I’m joining this KTP with the Perth Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) as my anchor bureau and had the good fortune of having my first week in post line up with their annual away day. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet the full team and gain an overview of how the bureau operates. Since Covid, PerthCAB have maintained a mostly remote service, retaining their drop-in appointments for crisis clients only. This has benefitted their clients by enabling them to support more people with a faster response as well as their staff by allowing them more flexible working patterns. It’s also required them to rethink their organisation structure, with careful consideration to the way they construct their teams, how they maintain work morale and culture, and what systems they put in place to ensure that clients have a consistent and beneficial experience when engaging with them.
The Away Day is one such measure that they’ve put in place to support this. As one of the larger bureaus in Scotland, PerthCAB have a range of teams within their organisation, which we broke out into throughout the day. The twin goals of Away Day were fostering their team culture and creating space to reflect upon strengths, challenges, goals, and opportunities throughout the bureau. I was following the Business and Development team, which allowed for me to explore some of these themes on a broader level. I admired the approach that they took for the event, choosing to incorporate more creative activities instead of taking a more straightforward question and answer structure. For instance, instead of simply asking about everyone to list their goals, they framed it as writing a letter to yourself from the future about what you’d achieved in the last few years. I found that this teased out the necessary insights in a more natural way and allowed for everyone to think more laterally about their work. To me, it felt as if they were able to strike the right balance of space for identifying business needs and strategy as well as opportunities to connect and develop their team dynamics.
As each CAB is an independent organisation, they’ll each have their own unique structure and processes. I’m excited to learn more about how each bureau responds to their local needs and organisational resources – to learn how and why they work in certain ways, the issues they face, and how they overcome those challenges.