EPA Project

I’m reaching the end of my apprenticeship and now working toward end point assessment, how exciting.  I chose to focus on the Leadership Development programme we are implementing across the Group at all management levels.  This is being co-developed with a consultant, will be delivered by myself in cohorts and will cover subjects such as conflict management, performance management and finance for non-finance managers.

First I needed to research what the business problem was to develop the Training Need Analysis (TNA).

The Business Problem – I reviewed the disciplinary hearings that took place in 2019 and noticed an increase of 3.5% on the previous year and the highest total recorded in 6 years.  Whilst attendance was the biggest disciplinary issue of the year, there was also an increase in the number of grievances raised by staff.  There were three significant issues relating to banter and how it can be perceived, it highlighted a need for diversity training and behavioural / management training.

2019 also saw an increase in mental health issues (and the HR Team spent a lot of time talking to colleagues to understand how work impacted on their wellbeing. 

With a headcount in December 2014 of 238 employees (160 permanent) increasing to 261 (251 permanent) in December 2019, these issues have impacted on the HR Team as Line Managers seem to rely on them to fix an issue, but pick it up too late in a situation. 

I drew up a storyboard highlighting key management tasks I wanted to work on during the Leadership Programme, which was the foundation of the Training Needs Analysis (TNA).

A TNA is the process of identifying the gap in employee training and related training needs, or the process of identifying training needs in an organisation for the process of improving organisational employee job performance.  Training (a performance improvement tool) is needed when employees are not performing up to a certain standard or at an expected level of performance.  The identification of training needs is the first step in a uniform method of instructional design.

Robert Katz (1955)

Based on the works of Robert Katz (1955), the Leadership Programme focuses not on what good managers are (their innate traits and characteristics), but rather what they do (the kinds of skills which they exhibit in carrying out their jobs effectively.   Importantly, a skill implies an ability which can be developed, not necessarily inborn.

A manager is one who:

  • directs the activities of other persons, and
  • undertakes the responsibility for achieving certain objectives through these efforts

Successful management rests in three basic skills, which are interrelated:

Technical skills – an understanding or, and proficiency in, a specific kind of activity, particularly one involving methods, processes, procedures or techniques.  Technical skill involves specialised knowledge, analytical ability within that speciality, and capability in the use of tools and techniques of the specific discipline.

Human skills – the manager’s ability to work effectively as a group member and to build cooperative effort within the team they lead.  The person with highly developed human skills is aware of their own attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs about other individuals and groups; they are able to see the usefulness and limitations of these feelings.  By accepting the existence of viewpoints, perceptions, and beliefs that are different from their own, they are skilled in understanding what others really mean by their words and behaviour.  They are usually skilful in communicating to others, in their own context, and what they mean by their behaviour.

Conceptual skills – the ability to see the enterprise as a whole; in recognising how the various functions of the organisation depend on one another, and how changes in any one part affects all the others; and it extends to visualising the relationship of the business market, the community, and the political, social and economic forces as a whole.  Recognising these relationships and perceiving the significant elements in any situation, the manager should then be able to act in a way which advances the over-all welfare of the whole organisation.

In practice, although all three skills are of importance at every level of management, the technical, human and conceptual skills of the manager vary in relative importance at different levels of responsibility.

At lower levels – as a manager moves further away from the actual physical operation, the need for technical skills becomes less important, provided there are subordinates with skills to solve their own problems.  At the top, technical skills may be almost non-existent, and the executive may still be able to perform effectively if their human and conceptual skills are highly developed.

At every level – human skill, the ability to work with others, is essential to effective management.

At the top level – conceptual skill becomes increasingly critical in more responsible executive positions where its effects are maximised and most easily observed.  In fact recent research findings lead to the conclusion that at the top level of management, the conceptual skill becomes the most important ability of all.

DiSC – Marston (1928)

In order for leaders to understand how their behaviour may impact on others, we chose to begin the Leadership Programme with an American personality profiling called DiSC.  This software works to help employees understand their needs, their behaviours and how this correlates with their colleague’s needs and behaviours to encourage and foster better working relationships.  The key principles are:-

  • Everyone is a blend of all four styles, all equally valuable
  • Other things influence your style: life experiences, education, maturity,
  • Understand yourself
  • Understand others – their priorities and how they differ from yours
  • DiSC is a tool for dialogue, not diagnosis of self and others

The DiSC Model of Behaviour was first proposed by William Moulton Marston, a physiological psychologist with a Ph.D. from Harvard. His 1928 book, Emotions of Normal People, explains his theory on how normal human emotions lead to behavioural differences among groups of people, and how a person’s behaviour might change over time. His work focused on directly observable and measurable psychological phenomena. He was interested in using practical explanations to help people understand and manage their experiences and relationships.

Marston theorised that the behavioural expression of emotions could be categorised into four primary types, stemming from the person’s perceptions of self in relationship to his or her environment. These four types were labelled by Marston as Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C), now known as Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S) and Compliance (C). 

The next stage of this project is delivery. I have selected four willing vicitims and will introduce the material to them and arrange for the DiSC profile to be completed. The beginning of a new career … wish me luck !!

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