Your particular pathway to working in local government may present some specific challenges when you start writing council reports. Here are some examples and potential solutions.

1.    Passionate people working in the community development space may struggle with the need for objectivity in reports, since they joined their council to make a difference, and they have a strong sense of what needs to happen.

  • Understand that your role is to consider the objectives of the elected members, and channel your experience and activism into advising on the best ways to achieve those objectives.
  • Build on your strong networks to reflect a more diverse range of stakeholder voices in your reports than has been traditionally heard around the council table.

2.    People who landed in their roles due to their strong interpersonal skills may feel more comfortable talking than writing.

  • Fast track your process by talking through the content with a peer or manager to gain clarity on what you need to cover.
  • Experiment with using the ‘dictate’ function in Microsoft Word, or download the ‘Easy Voice Recorder’ app on your phone, to generate your first draft by speaking rather than writing.

3.    People with strong practical skills may be rewarded for getting things done by being promoted to team leader or manager roles – which require them to write reports on behalf of their team. If your focus is on making things happen, you may have a strong understanding of the context and the recommendation to include in a report, but have less experience with writing problem definitions, options analyses, or reflecting on how the current issue aligns with your council’s high-level strategies.

  • Review some good examples of reports prepared at your council to familiarise yourself with the template and the analysis required before arriving at your recommendations.
  • Take time to think about, and assess, genuine alternative options rather than creating a persuasive case for your initial solution.

4.    In my first job, as a journalist, the target was to write five stories per day. I have had to learn to slow down, to allocate more time for problem definition, research, consultation and analysis, before jumping into the writing process.

  • Allow yourself to spend more pre-writing work before getting underway with the first draft of your report.
  • Repeat the Mainland Cheese phrase to yourself – ‘good things take time’.

Report writing workshops: Please get in touch if you would like to discuss the development of a report writing workshop for your council which reflects your report template and systems.