5.2 Meeting the need
Meeting the need through training and development
It is not the intention here to go into detail of the many ways in which training and development can be delivered. Instead, this section will focus on three areas that are pertinent to the path manager: the manager, the team member and the team. However, at this point it is well worth taking into account that different individuals may prefer different ways of learning.
The path manager
As a result of the training needs analysis a number of routes to development may be decided. As part of their personal development plan (PDP) it is common practice for managers to put together a portfolio of evidence showing their progress. (In some professions this is actually compulsory in order to maintain professional status.)
The contents of the portfolio should include:
- an up-to-date CV;
- qualification and course certificates;
- a record of past training and development; any analysis carried out;
- appraisal reports;
- the PDP and reviews.
This portfolio should continually be updated, and in time will provide evidence of a commitment to lifelong learning. Team members should be encouraged to keep a portfolio to recognise their achievements. Further development of the team leader is discussed under team development below.
The team member (including the manager)
There are a wide variety of methods for an individual’s development. Some of these are related to a team’s needs, as discussed in the following section, but some of the needs may be very specific to the individual. A number of specific needs can be identified from the training needs analysis and PDPs. The team manager or trainer may then be required to determine how these needs can be met. There are a number of options.
Further education colleges and private training providers can be a source of training and development. If the courses provided match the needs identified in development plans, these can be very successful. Sometimes it is difficult to find courses that match needs completely; however, every effort should be made to ensure that the training is at the right level and will meet the identified needs.
If numbers justify it, it usually more cost-effective for external organisations to deliver in-house training to reach specific objectives that have been agreed between the training organisations and the client.
A wide range of open-learning packages covering both technical and interpersonal skills are available. Such courses are widely used in, for example, management training; some qualifications for managers incorporate a certain amount of open learning, some of which may be supported by mentors or tutors in the workplace or in a learning centre. This is the model used extensively by the Open University and the Open Business School.
Projects and assignments
There is very little difference between these two terms: assignments are generally written and projects are generally practical. Both start with an agreed objective or set of objectives and can be used at any level.
For instance, an assignment might have the following objectives:
- Investigate the design of four wooden footbridges over narrow chasms with a view to producing a set of drawings for a wooden footbridge over the ravine at grid reference xxxxxx.
- Explain the rationale behind the decision to recommend this particular design.
- Write a project plan for the commissioning of this footbridge given normal team resources. Report back on this by –/–/– with a full and detailed project report laid out in standard reporting terminology. Your report should be no fewer than 2000 words, excluding relevant appendices.
Use of National and Scottish Vocational Qualifications
National and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (N/SVQs) are revolutionising training and development design and delivery.
The new qualifications are based on National Standards. These standards have been developed by virtually every sector of industry and are laid out in a common format of units and elements of competence along with associated performance criteria, which state the outcome when a task is completed competently.
‘Competence’ is defined as being able to complete a task and having a full understanding of the task, as well as knowing why and how it is carried out. It also means carrying it out safely while taking into account the environment and the people who are around or involved. A path worker who moves a boulder without first carrying out a basic risk assessment of the task and does not check who is in the way or where it is going to roll is not a competent worker.
The competent path worker works with others to determine the weight of the boulder, checks where the boulder is going to roll, ensures that all safety measures are taken and uses the right tools and works with others to move the object.
This example shows that considerable time and training may be necessary to ensure that some people are able to work safely with others to carry out simple tasks. These principles are built into vocational qualifications.
A number of basic principles underlie vocational qualifications. Courses explaining these principles in more detail are available for training specialists but they are outlined below.
1. Standards are set by industry
Standards are set by industry and are accredited by awarding bodies to produce SVQs. The path industry has its own SVQs represented through an ‘industry’-recognised qualification used in tandem with the Environmental Conservation SVQ.
2. Competent performance is determined by assessment against criteria contained in the standards
The following is an example of one element from these SVQs showing the performance criteria against which assessment is carried out.
3. Assessment is carried out in the workplace by trained assessors
Training courses are widely available for assessors assessing any S/NVQs. At a basic level, the training is based on four elements of the Skills Assessor Award containing one unit: Assess Competent Performance. There are four principles:
- planning out assessments with the individual;
- observing the individual carrying out the task;
- questioning the individual to determine his/her understanding of the task;
- feeding back the results of the assessment to the individual and recording the result.
Very often the process of assessment is overcomplicated by unnecessary paperwork. In general, assessment in the workplace is a relatively straightforward practice usually based on work instructions or simple checklists related to the performance criteria.
The candidate for an S/NVQ will be required to, or will find it useful to, put together a portfolio. This should contain the same records of progress as described for the manager’s portfolio. In addition, it will also contain evidence that will be used towards the S/NVQ, including records, testimony from others that the criteria have been met, drawings, photographs, plans, maps or other documents supporting the assessment.
In the same way that path managers will find the portfolio-building process useful, there is a great deal to be gained in using the portfolio to reflect on learning.
The communication and planning skills learned through assessor training, including planning, questioning and giving feedback, are valuable development tools for the path manager.
Although S/NVQs have revolutionised the design and delivery of training programmes, it would be wrong to suggest that on-the-job training is new. S/NVQs provide a framework and formalise a lot of good on-the-job training. The principles are fairly simple. The first step is an analysis of the tasks. These tasks are laid out in Upland Pathwork – Construction Standards for Scotland manual. For example, constructing a stone waterbar can be presented on a task analysis sheet, which can then be used for other tasks.
Task analysis: stone waterbar
|Step 1||Key points|
|Excavate a trench across the path||
|Position the bar stones ensuring that the required angle and fall is maintained||
|Step 3 and so on|
The example above can easily be used for a wide range of tasks; sometimes there is an extra column for health and safety issues.
Once task analysis has been carried out training can begin. There is a long-standing formula for on-the-job training:
Tell – Show – Do
Tell: Practical tasks can be learned by being told about them; it is essential that people are told about key issues or can read about them.
Show: It is necessary to demonstrate how practical tasks are carried out. In the above task, a certain amount about constructing stone waterbars can be learned by being told, but we will learn more from a demonstration; videos and diagrams also help.
Do: The most effective method of learning is by doing. This, combined with being told and then being shown, means that the learner has very much more chance of both carrying out and fully understanding the task.
There is another way to look at it:
I do it We do it You do it
I do it – I will show you how to carry out the task.
We do it – We will do it together until you are ready.
You do it – Once you are confident you can do it on your own.
The above are standard models for training and coaching and serve as an introduction; training courses, some of them certificated, are available for trainers and coaches.
Developing the team
The need to determine the training needs of a team has been explained. Having identified the individual needs, the team has to be developed as a working unit. Fundamental to this is the role of the team leader. It has to be decided at an early stage the role that the team leader should have: whether the team will be self-managed, i.e. all team members having equal responsibility and sharing any management tasks; whether there will be a team leader who takes on any management responsibilities; or whether there will be an in-between stage in which there is a team leader who then delegates management responsibilities. The extremes are the traditional supervisor–staff relationship and the totally self-managed team who are all equally empowered to take management decisions.
There is no one model that will work best in all situations or organisations. Each of these extremes and anything in between will have particular training needs and particular development issues.
The team development process starts with building up team relationships, understanding and communication. It is not enough to call a working group a team. The term ‘team’ implies shared practice, shared values, shared goals and a shared vision of the culture of the organisation. It does not imply shared interests, shared motivation or shared personal ambitions. Some organisations expect too much from the team member. However, we can all be individualistic while working towards shared targets for the company.
The team–task–individual approach shown above is a good model for looking at team development. You can start with exercises or training to help the team focus on the task and how the team can achieve it. This is sometimes called a focus event and, if facilitated properly, can assist the team to develop or accept team objectives. It can be extremely motivating if the team is fully involved in setting objectives as it can give ‘ownership’ and consequently more motivation.
Crucial to the development of the team is the development of the team leader. If you are serious about the team being ‘led’ then you have to develop leadership skills in the leader. When looking at the team–task–individual model, the team leader can be seen as the person who can balance the needs of the task with the needs of the individual while helping individuals move towards team working.
The following is a good description of what the team leader might do:
- Working with the team to define or understand team goals.
- Giving relevant information.
- Seeking specialist advice.
- Making a plan.
- Allotting tasks to or agreeing tasks with team members.
- Checking understanding of the tasks.
- Reviewing performance and maintaining standards.
- Negotiating change.
- Ensuring that resources are available.
- Ensuring all actions contribute to the team objectives.
- Encouraging the team.
- Meeting individual needs.
- Balancing individual needs against task and team needs.
It can be seen from the above (select) range of tasks that the team leader needs to develop a range of both technical and interpersonal skills. But far more important is adopting the attitude that people count in the team–task–individual equation; the best team leader learns the technical skills while developing advanced communication skills such as influencing, negotiating and problem solving.
There are a number of ways of helping the team leader to develop, including courses and reading. Although these are extremely useful, one of the best ways of learning leadership skills is by having a good example. A new team leader supported by a mentor or coach is an effective way of learning on the job; the mentor can help the team leader reflect on the leadership skills which he/she is developing over a period of time. If this can be integrated with an overall development of the team, then all the better.
It may also be useful to look at explanations of team leadership from some famous leaders:
‘The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.’
Field Marshall Montgomery
‘A leader is someone who has the ability to get other people to do what they don’t want to do, and like it.’
Harry S. Truman
‘Leadership is that part of management concerned with getting results through people.’
A short course on leadership
The six most important words........... I admit I made a mistake
The five most important words.......... I am proud of you
The four most important words......... What is your opinion?
The three most important words....... If you please
The two most important words......... Thank you
The one most important word........... We
And the least important word............. I