5.1 Identifying training and development needs
I can do that...
Fundamental to the delivery of any path project is the development of the team and the professional development of all individuals. At all levels there is an expectation that the skills, attitudes and knowledge required to deliver successful projects will be gained while these projects develop.
This section looks at how project managers can identify the skills and knowledge required to successfully deliver a competent project as well as provide the training and development required for both themselves and the project team. The intention here is to give an overview, as there are training and development texts that cover this subject in much more detail.
You should start with an analysis of the training and development that is required. The starting point and the subsequent steps can be represented in ‘The Training Cycle’ or ‘The Systematic approach to Training and Development’. This is a widely recognised and used model of the processes involved in professional development.
This is a good place to point out that when setting any objectives for training we should be using the standard management practice of using SMART objectives.
|S||You will notice that the above objectives are specific in that they explain a number of individual tasks.|
|M||They are measurable in that you can determine if the tasks have been completed by checking against the targets, e.g. 2000 words, four bridges, grid reference, and so on.|
|A||They are achievable in that resources are available to complete the project. For example, is there sufficient time for completion and does the candidate have access to a computer?|
|R||They should be realistic. Clearly projects have to be set at an appropriate level and be relevant to the development of the individual. We have to ask whether the person presently has the skills to carry out the project, does he/she need training or can they learn by completing the project?|
|T||Finally, the project should be time-bound in that you have to set time targets for completion, and possibly for reviewing progress.|
If you are able to set SMART objectives it makes the job of evaluation and review much easier.
Identify the need
The need for staff training can be idenitifed in a number of ways, such as during interviews, through feedback from colleagues, by competence or knowledge tests, by observing work taking place, or from appraisal documents or CVs. Skills and knowledge audits and a SWOT analyses are well-known techniques that can be used for self-assessment as well as for identifying the needs of individuals and groups.
Skills and knowledge audit
A ‘brainstorming’ session will identify the skills, knowledge and understanding required to carry out a particular task. Skills that the project team leader might suggest are listed in the table below. By comparing the exisiting skills and knowledge of the team members with the recommended ones, you can determine what training is required.
Such an audit might produce the following conclusions:
The project team leader
|SKILLS||Level required||Current level||Development needs|
|Project design||Degree or HNC level management and review||SVQ level 4 Supervisory management plus some specific project training||A more advanced course in management skills|
|Planning and reviewing||Management Level 4 S/NVQ||Management Level 4 S/NVQ||As above|
|Staff management||Management Level 4 S/NVQ||Management Level 4 S/NVQ||None required|
|Team briefing||Management Level 4 S/NVQ||Management Level 4 S/NVQ||As above|
|Effective presentation||Ability to present projects to community groups||Not confident in presenting to groups||There is a need for a specific course followed up with exposure to group presentations|
|Report writing||Professional quality reports||Already presents high quality reports||None required|
|Assessment skills||Vocational Assessor Award||Holds Skills Assessor Award||To work towards the D33|
|Team skills||Management Level 4 S/NVQ||Management Level 4 S/NVQ||None required|
|Training of trainers||3- to 4-day course||Already holds three relevant training units||None required|
|KNOWLEDGE||Level required||Current level||Development needs|
|Management of Health and Safety||NEBOSH level||Already holds Management Level 4 S/NVQ and has attended specific training||None required|
|Safety in construction legislation||NEBOSH level||As above||As above|
|Employment legislation||Management Level 4 S/NVQ||Management Level 4 S/NVQ||Updating courses when available|
|Appraisal system and how it works||Specific knowledge and use of the system||Has carried out appraisals in other organisations||Specific coaching only required|
|Environmental legislation||Full knowledge of relevant environmental legislation||Has full knowledge through personal research||None required|
Do not be overspecific about each and every aspect of the job, and do not use vague expressions: communication skills, for example, may cover questioning, listening and talking to a group. You should attempt to be as clear and concise as possible about the skill or knowledge required.
Another simple self-assessment tool is the SWOT analysis or analysis of STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES and THREATS.
This can be used on its own or with the skills and knowledge analysis. It is a good technique for helping staff identify their own training needs with or without support.
The project team leader
|● I have a strong background in management techniques.||● I have not worked to any degree with groups of manual workers.|
|● I have used a pc competently in previous jobs.||● I am unfamiliar with project management software.|
|● I have a NEBOSH Certificate.||● Health and safety training did not cover construction regulations.|
|● There will be a number of candidates selected for a higher level qualification in Project Management.||● Lack of project management skills can hamper progress.|
|● Growth in the path industry may mean that there are more higher level jobs available.||● Other candidates may have worked with manual workers – I need to improve my leadership skills.|
Whatever technique is used, it is best to include this in a personal development plan (PDP). This is very often carried out as a part of an appraisal process.
An example of a personal development plan
|Development issue||Reason for development||Method and date for achieving objective||Review date and comments|
|1. Training and assessment skills||To fulfil role in training and developing my team to meet the required job standards.||Attend training course leading to the Certificate for Skills Trainers and assessors by August 2002.|
|2. Report writing||To improve my knowledge of standard report writing techniques.||Attend a short course when available by September 2002.|
|3. Project management||To enable me to fully understand and manage projects.||To attend an introductory course by June 2002 with a view to commencing a certificate course in early 2003.|
The above techniques can lead to individual development plans. It is standard practice to compile these individual plans and to produce composite plans for a department or specific group. These, in turn, can then be combined with plans from other groups to form an organisational training needs analysis.
We can all do that
The department, organisational or team training needs analysis should be set out in a similar way to the PDP. However, simply compiling a list of team members’ training needs may result in a list of individually identified needs and not a plan that suits the organisation or the project team. Sometimes, individuals may push for expensive training that is not a priority for the team as a whole, or inappropriate or costly training may be prioritised badly.
It is the role of the manager or team leader to analyse the identified needs in order to determine the priorities for the team as a whole and to decide in which order these needs can be met, given that there are always budgetary constraints.
In order to do this the manager or team leader has to understand a basic principle of team working:
None of us works in isolation, although we sometimes would like to think we can, every action we take, every thing we say has possible consequences for others in the organisation or in the team.
Focusing on getting the job done may be detrimental to other team members and affect how the team works. Pushing others to achieve difficult targets is well known to have a demotivating effect on all.
Focusing on individuals, through favouritism for example, may be detrimental to the team spirit and affect how the task is carried out.
Focusing on keeping the whole team happy may be detrimental to individual team members and affect teamwork.
It is the aim of everyone in an organisation to achieve a balance and to encourage and support individuals so that a strong team can be built while ensuring that the task is being carried out.
It is up to the team leader or manager to ensure that there is a maximum overlap so that individuals work well within the team and that the team works well together to complete the task.
Team leaders have a major role in facilitating this through their management and communication skills. Individual training needs must be analysed and prioritised to benefit the team. It could be beneficial in the long term to allow individuals to undertake a costly MBA, but it could be more productive to fund an in-house programme leading to six or seven members of staff achieving an N/SVQ in an appropriate skills area.
Once a list of needs have been determined a timescale for achieving them has to be set down. An example of a team training needs analysis is shown below.
North Highland Path Team Training Needs Programme
|Risk assessment||Full team||To comply with law||ASAP|
|Basic H and S||J Kerr|
|I Smith||Team targets||–/–/–|
|SHORT TERM||Next month|
|Survey techniques||J Kerr|
|P Weir||Identified gap through analysis||–/–/–|
|MEDIUM TERM||2–3 months|
|Interpersonal skills||I Smith|
|D Stewart||Identified through appraisal|
|Team development||Full team||Identified through team discussion||–/–/–|
|SVQ In Administration||Admin team||To support training and identify further gaps||–/–/–|
If the manager or team leader does this, then the team development plan is more specific to the needs of the team, more cost-effective and more likely to take the team forward in its task. The next stage is to deliver the training.