Working with Ministers

This is an in-house training course. For further information and pricing contact [email protected] or phone on +44 20 7661 7817.


The aim of the event is to facilitate a shared understanding of how Civil Servants should work with Ministers and how they can improve the way they help Ministers in their public duties.  This interactive event will engage participants with a range of questions, examples and insights to help them agree ways of strengthening the consistent application of good practice in their departments and teams. It will also address any issues where there is scope for improvement in the common approach. 


To enable participants:

  • to discuss and form a common understanding of the Minister/Civil Servant relationship (i.e. the role of the Ministers and the legalities dictating how you can assist, and how you cannot); and
  • to discuss, practise and choose some techniques, processes and formats to improve how Civil Servants help Ministers in their public duties. (In particular writing a brief and preparing/conducting a debriefing session.)


09:00 Welcome, Introductions and Overview of Day

09:15 Session One
Understanding the Minister/ Civil Servant Relationship

  • The boundaries set out in Ministerial Code of Conduct and Civil Service Code of Conduct
  • Facilitated discussion of the practical challenges involved in providing full co-operation, sound and impartial advice, full and factual information, and loyal service
  • What to do when you receive a request from a Minister that you believe is not consistent with your obligations under the Codes of Conduct?
  • How to improve the understanding of the Minister/ Civil Servant relationship in your departments and teams (including how you monitor how effective Civil Servants are in supporting Ministers.)
  • Facilitated discussion of challenges that you have experienced and agreeing a common approach going forward

10:30 Break

10:45 Session Two
Helping Ministers Decide (Policy Advice etc.)

  • Which formats for written policy /advice can support decision making?
  • Discussion of your experience of balancing delivery, evidence and political/ presentational considerations
  • What do evidence-based policy and rational decision-making mean in practice?
  • Some key cognitive biases to be aware of (and how to overcome them)
  • Balancing the use of influence/ persuasion to increase the Minister’s confidence in your recommendations, with ensuring that the Minister understands the costs and risks (as well as the benefits) of your recommendations
  • Strategies for handling advice on Ministerial invitations to events, requests for meetings with the Minister etc.
  • Discussion on agreeing a common approach including on clearance of policy advice

12:30 Lunch Break

13:30 Session Three
Written Briefing for Ministers (Events, Meetings, Handling Media, etc.)

  • Ensuring accuracy, brevity, clarity
  • The implications of “less can be more”
  • Ensuring that the objective of the briefing is clear
  • Techniques for presenting messages positively (but truthfully)
  • Discussion of approaches to formats and length for different types of briefing e.g. for information, for an event, for handling the media etc.
  • Discussion on agreeing a common approach including on clearance of written briefing

14:45 Break

15:00 Session Four
Discussing Policy Advice with Ministers, Oral Briefing and Debriefing

  • Preparing for a policy discussion or briefing session with a Minister
  • Getting the balance of personal “strength” and “warmth” right
  • Convincing the Minister that you support their ultimate objectives (even when making the case for an alternative way of achieving those objectives)
  • How to quickly but effectively prepare a Minister to face questions at an event or with media
  • Debriefing colleagues and team members on what has been discussed with a Minister
  • Discussion on what works best for different types of meetings with Ministers

16:00 Action Points, Final Questions and Discussion

  • How will you share the best practice discussed with colleagues and team members?

16:15 Close

Our L&D ethos

  • We’re here to enable you to perform better

Our L&D team

  • All former practitioners, now professional trainers, our L&D team have provided open and bespoke solutions for more than 100,000 public servants from 120 countries 

Our L&D seminars

  • A vast reservoir of international, transferable knowledge and perspectives about effective, delivery-focused approaches to working smarter in the public sector

This is an in-house training course. For further information and pricing contact [email protected] or phone on +44 20 7661 7817.