Practical Advice for Civil Servants
Accessible Information for Everyone Else
These four publications are genuinely unique. They offer advice, comment and information that is more honest than official government publications and more accessible than academic writing. They have been written by expert civil servants and contain knowledge that could otherwise be gained only through years of experience.
First published in 2000, this fourth edition of How to be a Civil Servant was published in 2021. It brings together a wide range of practical advice and information in an easily accessible form. It is a must-read for newly appointed Whitehall civil servants and for those looking to enter the profession – not to mention students, academics, journalists, politicians and anyone with an interest in the inner workings of British government.
The book was the first ever guidebook to working in the higher levels of the civil service, and it remains the only comprehensive guide to how Whitehall civil servants should effectively carry out their duties, hone their communication skills and respond to professional, ethical and technical issues relevant to the job. Its contents include working with Ministers, professional skills such as submitting advice and drafting speeches, the policy process and civil service ethics.
Reviewers have been very complimentary:
- "It is the best explanation of Whitehall you'll find anywhere.
- Fantastic Insight - A beautifully written glimpse of what life is like for civil servants. An essential read for all those looking to embark on a career in politics.
- Martin's experience as a senior civil servant provides practical insights into an often inaccessible world! Relevant way beyond those in the civil service.
- By far the most practical guide to how to do policy-making in the civil service.
- A masterpiece."
You can read other reviews here.
If you are not in a hurry, and want to avoid Amazon, we are currently selling the book at cost:- £5.99 + p&p for delivery within a week.
- How can civil servants remain politically neutral?
- What should civil servants should do (if anything) if Ministers do not take their advice, or if Ministers appear to be 'behaving badly'?
- To what extent are Government blunders the fault of the civil service?
- Why aren't MPs better at holding civil servants to account?
This book is a comprehensive description and discussion of the Westminster Model which governs the relationship between Civil servants, Ministers and Parliament. It is not yet available as a paperback but you can download it* here:
*The downloaded EPUB file should open automatically in Apple's pre-loaded Books app. Windows and Android users may need to download Adobe Digital Editions or the Calibre app - both free. You can also use Calibre to reformat the file for your Kindle reader.
Wise advisers know that it is not enough to speak truth to power. We need to speak in a way which will be heard. This unique long read examines the incentives faced by the decision makers, discusses why no one likes to hear honest feedback, and describes how powerful people are not like the rest of us.
It then analyses how to offer persuasive advice, and to offer and receive challenge.
If you are not in a hurry, and want to avoid Amazon, we are currently selling the book at cost:- £3.99 + p&p for delivery within a week.
This is an anthology of more specialised advice from more experienced officials, particularly valuable for those preparing for senior leadership and management roles.
The first part - Understanding Organisations - explores corporate behaviour and examines why larger organisations often behave in unpredictable, illogical and unethical ways.
The second part - Speaking Truth to Power - studies why it is so hard to get senior people to listen to your advice and act on it, and lists nine techniques to help you be heard, and help you learn how to offer and receive challenge.
Part 3 - Leading and Managing Policy Teams - recognises that policy-making is a complex activity in today's fast-changing world. Managers need to develop strategies, aims and objectives which inspire those who work for them. This part of the book brings together a wide range of practical leadership and management advice from experienced policy professionals.
Part 4 - Managing Crises - looks at policy- and decision-making under pressure and includes detailed advice from those who have gone before, including examples to help illuminate the Government's response to the 2020 Covid-19 epidemic.
Part 5 - An Introduction to Regulation is not yet available, but ...
Part 6 - Competition Policy offers a beginners guide to competition law.
Part 7 offers some advice about effective Consultation.
Part 8 will help you Understand the European Union.
Follow this link to read advice from experienced officials if you are asked to:
- Work with Scientists and Statisticians,
- Work Closely with Ministers