Line Management Interviews

An L & D Blog Special Edition

Management Cartoon

The BIS “New Managers Development Programme” helps new managers in the department get to grips with what it means to be a line manager, and someone in that category I have been part of the 2016 cohort. 

Getting a more experienced line management buddy is a central component of the scheme, and at my buddy’s suggestion I have conducted three interviews with experienced line managers from across the department so that I could benefit from their wisdom and greater experience.  Write ups are below for your interest and information.

Douglas Leckie, Cities and Local Growth Unit

Name: Carl Creswell

Role: Deputy Director, Routes into Apprenticeships and Work

Line Management experience: 15 years (15 years in BIS)

Carl Cresswell

Do you have a guiding line management principle?

“A line manager needs to be brave enough to be specific and direct in the messages they give their teams. When I started managing I was too concerned about hurting feelings and ducked giving clear messages a result. Over time I have found that telling people directly about my views on a policy issue or if something should be improved – either in their work or in their behaviour – has almost always actually improved my relationships with them because everyone has been clear about where they stand.”

Can you describe a formative experience you’ve had as a line manager?

“I learned a great deal from managing someone under the performance improvement system. This required significant personal resilience, and taught me the importance of having a strong network of peers to be able to talk to, how important my relationship with my own line manager is, and the need in high pressure situations like this to have assurance from those around you that using taking this approach is the right thing to do. I also learned the importance of starting poor performance measures early where there are significant concerns because it can lead to meaningful improvements in performance if you identify support needed for staff upfront.”

Can you describe a formative experience you’ve had as someone being line managed?

“When I first became a DD I had fantastic guidance from my Director. He explained the difference between the role I had taken on and what I had been doing previously, and helped me to see that – for example – if I found myself drafting submissions as a DD then I should be delegating more to my team. He then did a great job of stepping back and letting me get on with the job, giving me the freedom to shape my own role.”

Name: Euan Macmillan

Role: Team Leader, Economic Analysis Team (European Reform Directorate)

Line Management experience: 4 years (1 year in BIS)

Euan Macmillan

Do you have a guiding line management principle?

“I’ve actually got five, neatly summarised by the acronym DETCH.

1. Direction: managers need to set direction by deciding what people in their teams need to do, which can be tough when that differs from what people want to do.

2. Empathy: managers need to understand where others are coming from, taking the time to understand how people are feeling.

3. Transparency: managers need to be clear with their team about the decision making process behind the changes that affect them.

4. Cover: managers need to assure their teams that they will back them up and fight for them.

5. Honesty: this can be hard, but managers sometimes need to tell the people they are managing things they don’t want to hear. It’s important that your direct reports know where they stand with you.”

Can you describe a formative experience you’ve had as a line manager?

“I’ve got two such experiences that have shaped the way I line manage now. The first was a time when I was managing someone who was lacking in confidence. Having reflected on the reasons for this, I realised that the problem was as much to do with my management as her approach, and that I needed to let go and dump her in the deep end to give her the chance to swim. So I gave her a project for her to present directly to senior management, and it worked really well. She produced an excellent end product, and realised that she actually didn’t need that much support to do her job.

My second formative experience was in the context of working in a team under great financial pressure with programmes in danger of being axed. In that context I had a pre-maternity leave conversation with a colleague to discuss how her return to the team might work, but all that she heard was that her position was under threat and that I was considering terminating her position in the context of her maternity leave. In retrospect I realise I should have avoided the subject entirely, and it taught me the importance of empathising with those under my line management.”

Can you describe a formative experience you’ve had as someone being line managed?

“Having come into the civil service from academia, my first DD ripped my verbose and academic written style to shreds. It was pretty brutal, involving reams of tracked changes and line by line analysis of all my mistakes and poor drafting. For several months my manager took the time and effort to go through things with me in painstaking detail, and I’m really grateful for the effort she put in as it transformed the way I worked and helped me to adjust far faster than I would have managed without that support.”

Name: Elena Williams

Role: Chief Operating Officer, Financial Services Organisation at UKTI

Line Management experience: 8 years (2 years in BIS)

Elena Williams

Do you have a guiding line management principle?

“I have been greatly influenced by a book called ‘What Colour Is Your Parachute?’ by Richard Nelson Bolles which helps you think through what’s important to you in a job, in terms of the sort of people you want to work with, the environment that you work in and the values of the organisation that you work for. For me, the important things are (a) autonomy, (b) working for people I can respect and see as role models, and (c) getting the right level of support. So this is what I try to provide for the members of my own team.

I have found that focussing my management on these aspirations helps to create a relaxed working environment in which all members of the team can come and talk to me about anything that’s on their mind. I make a point of having 1:1s with my whole team, rather than just my direct reports, and try as much as possible to hold these out of the building. I find this helps me to get to know people much better.”

Can you describe a formative experience you’ve had as a line manager?

“No one particular experience stands out, but I’ve got a few specific things I try to do regularly which I have found helpful.

I try to give excellent performance within my team maximum visibility up the management chain. This is one of the ways that I can reward and encourage my team members in lieu of being able to offer significant financial rewards.

I’ve started organising regular half hour Friday afternoon downtime (known locally as Prosecco-and-alternative-soft-drink Fridays) with my team and our immediate neighbours to build up a positive working culture. We use these sessions to talk about issues of the day. During diversity and inclusion month we used the discussion to talk about how to attract more women into financial services roles.

As a consequence of that discussion I agreed to advertise roles in my team outside the usual channels in the interests of increasing diversity and giving the widest possible range of people the opportunity to apply.”

Can you describe a formative experience you’ve had as someone being line managed?

“I have found the unwavering support and encouragement that I have receive from my current line manager, Rodney Berkeley, as formative. I really appreciate the way that he supports me. He gives me the space (autonomy) to manage my sectors and my team in the way that I see fit, but is always there as a backstop in case I drop the ball. When I grow up I want to be like Rodney.”


June 2016

Welcome to June’s L & D blog…

Ali 8
“I shook up the world, I shook up the world.”

Muhammad Ali was born on 17 January 1942. In 61 fights over a professional career lasting 21 years he recorded 56 wins, including 31 in a row before being beaten by Joe Frazier in 1971’s “Fight of the Century” in New York.

Ali was acclaimed by many as the greatest world heavyweight boxing champion the world has ever seen. He was certainly the most charismatic boxer. His courage inside and outside the ring and his verbal taunting of opponents were legendary, as were his commitment to justice and his efforts for the sick and underprivileged.

Three times world champion, Ali harnessed his fame in the ring to causes outside it. He was a convert to Islam and the personification of Black Pride. He anticipated the anti-Vietnam war movement of the 1960s by refusing to join the armed forces.

He made goodwill missions to Afghanistan and North Korea, delivered medical supplies to an embargoed Cuba, and travelled to Iraq to secure the release of 15 US hostages shortly before the first Gulf war. Repellent though he found many aspects of US foreign policy – and repellent as the establishment found him when in 1967 it banned him from the ring for three years for refusing the draft – the nation embraced Ali as time passed, realising his unique ambassadorial value. In 2005, he received his country’s highest civilian honour, the presidential medal of freedom, from George W Bush, an incumbent whose views he must have detested.

You can read the rest of one of Ali’s many obituaries in the Guardian here.

Asked how he would like to be remembered, he said: “As a man who never sold out his people. But if that’s too much, then just a good boxer. I won’t even mind if you don’t mention how pretty I was.”

He died on aged 74 on 3rd June 2016 in Arizona.

In This Edition…

1. CLoG Activities
2. BIS and DCLG Opportunities

3. Across the Country…and Beyond
4. News and Reviews

1. CLoG Activities

L and D Day – Thursday 14 July

The next L and D day will be on Thursday 14 July.  It will focus on how we can engage better with business, and the agenda is shaping up very nicely. Bring your best questions, and have a look at for a flavour of what you can expect.

Policy School III

Policy School has now been confirmed for Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 September in sunny Balckpool. That is in the first week of conference recess. Colleagues from CLoG and those working with us from other directorates and departments on devolution at any grade are welcome to apply. Please forward this invitation to your partners outside the team.

Participants will be learning policy tools and techniques and applying them to create policy proposals which will be judged on day 2 by Blackpool Council’s leader and Chief Executive and Deputy Chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership. We will arrange accommodation.

Please apply by filling out the table in the document attached below and emailing it to Kate Thompson.

Policy School Application Form

To maximise the opportunities to learn from each other across government, we will allocate spaces to applicants based on their responses to the questions below and to achieve a good mix across teams. Please contact Kate Thompson, Kate Jones, Mick Allen or Callum Whittaker for further details.

Freedom of Information Requests

Please find attached David Masino’s guide to (almost) everything you might want to know about FOIs.

FoI Requests – A CLoG Guide

Ali 1
Accused of being a loudmouth for always predicting he would beat his opponents, Ali needed no words and just two props to fashion a comic response.

2. BIS and DCLG Opportunities


Aspiring Managers Programme

The Aspiring Managers programme is being rolled out following an extremely successful pilot in 2015. The programme is due to launch in September 2016, with applications open from 20th June to 5th August.

Please keep checking the Aspiring Managers intranet page for all of the latest updates and details of the application process. We’ll also be sending out another newsletter with more information over the coming weeks.

Aspiring Managers is a key element of the Management Matters initiative and a top priority for the department. The programme provides those who are not currently managers, but have the potential to take on a managerial role within two to three years, with a host of practical managerial skills and experiences.

Feedback from the pilots was fantastic, with a whopping 90% of participants confirming they’d recommend the programme to others and that it helped development their management skills.

If you’re interested then please do consider applying and send details to any of your colleagues who could benefit from the programme.

UK Devolution and EU Policy Making Seminar

Wednesday 30 June 14:00 – 15:00

The EU Skills Academy is very pleased to invite you to a one hour seminar on UK devolution and EU policy making. The Devolved Administrations (DAs) have a legitimate interest in the preparation and presentation of UK Government’s EU policy. The aim of this seminar is to provide helpful advice on how and when to engage the DAs when dealing with EU policy and European institutions and will consist of two  presentations:

 1. BIS devolution  Team on UK Devolution and new Cross Whitehall Guidance:

  • When and how Policy leads should consider and consult the devolved Administrations in the EU policy making context

2. Rory O’Donnell UKREP  Presentation on:

  • The UKREP perspective and some hands on experience  of working with DA’s on European issues

To book your place click on Eventbrite link :

Ali 2
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'”
Knowledge Series:Award Winning Policy Excellence – The Drug Driving Law

Wednesday 6th July 9:00-11.30

This is a series of events for senior policy advisers G6/7 across government to look at how to create better, more innovative and open policy making

Aim and Objectives

  • Learn about policy excellence at this event from the winners of the 2015 Policy Award at the Civil Service Awards.
  • Hear how fellow policy professionals in two departments worked jointly to develop and implement an enforceable new Drug Driving Law, demonstrating user-centred, evidence based approaches, and showcasing open policy-making. 


  • Martin Ellis, DfT
  • Duncan Harding, Home Office
  • Catriona Henderson, DfT

To book your free place please email us at:

Changes to the BIS Outreach programme

BIS Outreach is moving to a more proactive, informal and inclusive approach, where there will no longer be a centrally organised programme of Outreach activity. Instead staff throughout the department will be encouraged to discuss and arrange visits and events within their policy groups and one another, and in order to support this an Outreach forum has been created:

The forum provides an area where these discussions can happen, as well as tips and guidance for staff looking to arrange Outreach activity.

Contact Robin Gray for more information.

General BIS L & D Opportunities

Army Reserve Leadership Session

‘Buy in BIS’ Procurement Drop-in: 29 June

Future Leaders Scheme (FLS) and Senior Leaders Schemes (SLS)

Temporary SEO opportunity Portfolio Team (Digital Group)

Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI): BIS Representative

Volunteers for the SCS and Team Support Review (Corporate Project)

Parental Support Group Buddy

Help with consultation analysis – consumer switching

Digital Leadership course for G6 and DDs

Ali 3
Olympic gold in 1960 aged 18.


DCLG Mentoring Programme

See below for a link to an intranet article about the DCLG mentoring programme.

3. Around the Country…And Beyond

The future for transport policy in the North

Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar

Morning, Wednesday, 13th July 2016, Central Manchester

  • David Brown, Chief Executive, Transport for the North
  • Dr Jon Lamonte, Chief Executive, Transport for Greater Manchester
  • Russell Goodenough, Fujitsu
  • Gary Hodgson, Peel Ports
  • Alex Hynes, Arriva Rail North
  • Adam Jupp, Manchester Airport
  • David Sidebottom, Transport Focus
  • Joanna Whittington, Office of Rail and Road

 Chaired by Lord Haskins, Chairman, Humber Local Enterprise Partnership

Book Online | Live Agenda | Website

High value manufacturing in the UK – next steps for investment, innovation and competitiveness

Westminster Business Forum Keynote Seminar

Morning, Thursday, 14th July 2016, Central London

  • Clare Marett, Head of Manufacturing, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Seán O’Reagain, Deputy Head of Unit, Advanced Manufacturing Systems and Biotechnologies, Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, European Commission
  • Dr Zoë Webster, Head of High Value Manufacturing, Innovate UK
  • Jason Aldridge, Arrowsmith Engineering
  • Jonathon Clark, Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Dick Elsy, High Value Manufacturing Catapult
  • Jonny Hazell, Green Alliance
  • Brian Holliday, Siemens
  • Caroline Jackson, UK Trade & Investment
  • Neil Mantle, Rolls Royce and Steering Group for the UK AM Strategy
  • Mike Rigby, Barclays
  • Ann Watson, Semta

 Chaired by Chris White MP, Chair, All‐Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group and Stephen Kinnock MP, Member, All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group

Book Online | Live Agenda | Our Website | Unsubscribe

Ali 4
The expressions, the simmering contempt, the outfits, the saturated colours – Ali and George Foreman before Ali’s second fight with Jerry Quarry in 1970.
The sharing economy in the UK: regulation, growth and policy priorities

Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar

Morning, Thursday, 15th September 2016, Central London

  • Debbie Wosskow, Chair, Sharing Economy UK (SEUK) and Chief Executive Officer, Love Home Swap
  • Helen Goulden, Executive Director, Innovation Lab, Nesta
  • Sam James, Managing Director UK & Ireland,
  • Richard Laughton, Chief Executive Officer, easyCar
  • Clive Seddon, Partner and Head of TMT & Sourcing, Pinsent Masons
  • Steve Garelick, Branch Secretary for Professional Drivers, GMB Union
  • Roddy Campbell, Founder, Vrumi
  • Olivia Sibony, Co-Founder, Grub Club

Book Online | Live Agenda | Our Website

Contract Management Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)

The Government has backed a third MOOC with a view to increasing the commercial capabilities of civil servants.  This one began in May, but you can read about it via the link below with a view to getting ahead of the game before the next one comes along:

Strand Group 13: HM Treasury and the Supply Side

Kings College – Policy Institute

18.00 on Thursday 7th July at HM Treasury

The thirteenth event of the Strand Group, the Policy Institute at King’s signature seminar series. John Kingman, Acting Permanent Secretary to HM Treasury, will discuss ‘HM Treasury and the Supply Side’. The event is sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Tickets are very limited. If you would like to apply please send your name and affiliation to Confirmations will be sent a week before the event.

Ali 5
“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
Economics for Policy Advisors

19 – 21 July, London

This three-day programme of workshops introduces and explains the concepts and tools of economics and their application to government policy. Economic principles furnish participants with a set of tools to enhance their own skills and to enable them to work more closely with economists. Applying these principles to policy, and interventions across government, builds confidence and ensures that the theory is relevant, transferable and accessible. These courses bring together participants from different departments; applications and case studies ensure all are able to relate these to their own areas of work and that of government as a whole. The approach is always discursive and participatory, involving the latest policies and government initiatives. Participants receive a textbook and electronic materials to enable continued learning and support.

This course was developed by Professor Alison Wride, working in conjunction with the GES. Both open and closed departmental variants have been delivered across government for more than five years. All have received excellent feedback and many participants go on to recommend it to colleagues. For any questions about content, level etc, please feel free to contact

To book a place on the course please click here.

The Royal Society Pairing Scheme

Applications are now open for the Royal Society Pairing Scheme. This is your opportunity, as a civil servant, to be paired with a talented UK based researcher (from a university or industry) to understand or re-engage with the research process and explore methods of knowledge sharing with scientists in the field.

The scheme was set up by the Royal Society in 2001 to help build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best scientific researchers in the UK. Through a partnership with the Government Science & Engineering (GSE) Profession, civil servants have been included since 2009. By pairing academic research scientists with either a civil servant or MP, the scheme aims to:

  • help scientists recognise the potential methods and structures through which they can feed their scientific knowledge to Parliament and Government;
  • help practising research scientists understand the pressures under which MPs and civil servants operate;
  • give MPs and civil servants the opportunity to forge direct links with practising research scientists; and
  • give MPs and civil servants the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the process of scientific understanding and topical research and ultimately to be able to bring this knowledge into better informed discussions and decision making.

Please note that the scheme does not pair civil servants with MPs.

This year the ‘Week in Westminster’ will run from Monday 28 November – Thursday 1 December, providing a programme of activities for the scientists including seminars, workshops, shadowing opportunities and a tour of Westminster. This induction aims to give the scientists a taste not only of the approach to science policy within Government, but of Parliament and the civil service in general.

As part of the Week in Westminster your scientist will shadow you in your organisation for two days (29 and 30 November). Sometime after the Week in Westminster, the civil servant partners spend some time shadowing the academic scientists at their home institutions. You will also have the opportunity to meet the other scientists on this year’s Pairing Scheme. Last year’s participants also had the opportunity of meeting with the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Mark Walport, and posting him some difficult questions about the role of science in Government.

To apply for the Pairing Scheme, please contact for an application form, which should not take long to fill in.

The deadline for applications is Friday 8 July 2016. For more information on the Pairing Scheme please click here. (Please note, this is publically available information and therefore includes information on the external scientist half of the scheme that has already closed. We are now looking for Civil Servant pairs).


An interesting interview about the Government’s approach to secondments with Chief People Officer Rupert McNeil.

Ali 6
“I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick; I’m so mean I make medicine sick.”

4. News and Reviews

Business Case School (Douglas Leckie)

Zainab Agha organised two day-long business case schools in London and Manchester which were both extremely well received by all who attended.  Indeed in judges’ Jacinda Humphry and Stephen Aldridge’s view such training should be compulsory across the whole of DCLG, if not the whole of government.

To summarise the day briefly, we covered the five constituent parts of a business case in their conventional order, namely moving from the big picture to the finer detail.

  1. The Strategic Case: why act?
  • The context: wider government priorities and policies
  • The problem: market failure or problems of equity
  • The proposal: rationale for intervention, and how it fits with existing policies.

2. The Economic Case: what is the public value?

  • Identifies a wide range of options
  • Sets out Net Present Public Value (difference between the costs and benefits), Benefit Cost Ratio (ratio of benefits to costs) and analyses the additionality anticipated, i.e. the extent to which the proposal would increase public value.

3. The Commercial Case: how would the proposal be implemented?

  • Sets out the procurement strategy

4. The Financial Case: how would the proposal be funded?

  • Budget Statement: how much will be spent on each component over the lifetime of the proposed investment?
  • Funding Statement: who is contributing what?
  • Cash Flow Statement: what is the timing of the proposed income and expenditure?

5. The Management Case: how will it be delivered?

  • Governance and project management
  • Project plan
  • Risk management
  • Evaluation
  • Change management/evaluation plan
Ali 7
“If you even dream of beating me you’d better wake up and apologize.”
Whitehill and Bordon Awayday (Kate Cornford and Toni Wooton)

Around 15 colleagues from across CLoG went to visit Whitehill and Bordon in EM3 LEP on Thursday 16th June at Kate Cornford’s invitation, and gained a fascinating insight into the sharp end of local growth delivery.

Whitehill and B

When the Army’s Defence School of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering relocated from Whitehill & Bordon in 2015 it freed up approximately 100 hectares of land. East Hampshire District Council’s Masterplan for the area envisaged a population increase from 16,000 to 21,000, delivering 3,350 new homes, 5,500 new jobs, a thriving new town centre, and protection of 150 hectares of natural environment over the next 20 years.

However, as Kevin Bourner (HCA’s Head of Area) outlined, the HCA has been crucial in kick-starting this regeneration by providing upfront investment. The LEP, in recognition of the importance of this site for the wider area, has provided funding to enable delivery of a key relief road. HCA have carried out de-risking works including removing the private network of utilities, and delivering Suitable Alternative Green Space required for the local community. £26m public sector investment over the last three years is now starting to see tangible returns in the form of gathering momentum across the whole redevelopment.

Link Road 2
At Quebec Park bats nesting in the garrison buildings while the site was left derelict are being re-housed in £50,000 bat hotels.

Kevin made clear the progress made on the site has been in no small part due to the mindset shared by all involved, including the local authorities. For the first time in living memory the planning committee gave unanimous support to the project, and did so within 10 months of the application being submitted.

However, developers including Barratt Homes, Radian Homes and a Taylor Wimpy/Dorchester JVP did point out that these partnerships have been tested by the capacity within local authorities, particularly the number of planners employed to review applications. DCLG grants to support students studying planning had been enormously beneficial to ensure the pipeline of planners needed to meet building demand.

Link Road 1
The link road outside Louisburg Barracks which was delayed by a badger who disagreed with planners about his relocation to the local National Park and trundled back on site.

The highlight was seeing the site as it emerges from the ground and understanding some of the complexities and challenges which lie at the heart of the development. Some additional points of interest included the halting of demolition works due to the historic significance of the graffiti bricks within the officers’ mess, bats who had made some derelict buildings their home and were now being rehoused in £50,000 bat hotels, and that a key link road (above) would be delayed by 3 months because a badger didn’t want to relocate to the National Park that the site borders.

Ali Frazier
Muhammad Ali and George Frazier in 2003.