AS&K – Three-tiered Management & Leadership Programme
As a fast-growing business, AS&K recognised the need to equip their management population with the skills and techniques to confidently manage and develop their developing teams. The challenge was to create relevant content for three levels of management, plus a further level once the directors were added to the programme. The content had to be linked yet relevant to each level of management. Little did we know that there was to be an extra challenge introduced just after the official launch of the programme and the running of the first senior management module in the training room – Covid19 and lockdown. Clearly the training room was not going to be an option.
Our Response – Stage One
In order to make sure the content for each learning group was relevant, we held a series of meetings with the participants to tap into what would really help them in their roles as managers. This is a vital part of the process, not only does it help us as deliverers of the training ensure relevant content, but it also starts to create a high level of engagement between participant and the programme they are attended. It ensures participants do not feel that they are being sent on a course. They start to understand how the programme will help them and the motivation to use what they will learn starts to build.
Further to the consultation meetings, we were able to design a modular programme consisting of three “face to face” modules for each of the specific learning groups. We also included two modules for the Directors to attend. We then introduced the programme to everyone involved with a launch event. The importance of a launch event cannot be underestimated, as with the consultation meetings with the participants, it is another crucial piece of the engagement jigsaw. Launch events such as this give the opportunity to present the proposed content, provide a feel and flavour of what the training will be like and what it will involve and give the opportunity to address any concerns.
The launch event also gave the opportunity for us to explain the online element of the programme. Even before lockdown and the need to transfer the planned training room modules to a virtual format, we had designed the programme to include our online learning platform, Promote. Promote provides the real difference to this type of programme. It connects what participants learn during modules to their working environment. Promote stretches the learning, by hosting a series of specific tasks and activities which participants are required to complete. In doing so, they actually use what they have learnt in the “live” environment, putting their newly learnt skills into practice, gaining confidence and observing results.
Promote also hosts all the resources that participants will need for reference and reminders. For all the different learning, groups we were able to provide a variety of resources to match their level of experience in order to support, guide and challenge.
Adapting to Covid 19 and Lockdown
The original plan was that we would run three face to face modules for each learning group, approximately four weeks apart. Clearly lockdown meant a change to that plan. Having created the learning groups, built the online element on Promote, held the launch event and actually run one face to face session, the adaptation was in fact fairly straightforward. We converted the remaining three-hour face to face session to run using Zoom and the conversion was a huge success.
Inadvertently, we had struck on something that we have battled with for years. Now that the modules were delivered to participants all based at their home offices, we overcame the problem of participants having to leave their workplace to attend training. We were taking the training to them, exactly where they needed it. The programme had become part of their working day. They scheduled the Zoom sessions in the same way that they would schedule a client meeting or an employee one to one. The time efficient three-hour sessions fitted perfectly into the working weeks and we noted far less rescheduling and non-attendance than on previous programmes that involved having to ‘leave’ the office.
The programme – at all levels – has proven to be a great success. We can see by looking at Promote how many tasks and activities have been completed and therefore how much what has been learnt has been put into practice and what results have been achieved, in terms of changes in approach and impact on behaviours.
The fact that this programme has been run for all levels, management from senior leaders right through to the newest and least experienced of the management population, has meant that there is now a consistent approach to management across the business. There are greater levels of connection between management groups, greater understanding of their role and responsibilities and a full understanding that management is not something that they can pick up and put down amidst a busy working schedule.
The two directors of the business have fully bought into the programme, attending two three-hour sessions themselves so far, to gain a full understanding of what was being covered and what they needed to do to support their managers ongoing. This is a crucial factor in the programme’s success. Active stake holders make a huge difference, participants have to have the “license” to use what they have learnt and the arena to try things and be supported to do so. This programme has been supported throughout and effective management is now very much on the agenda for this business and will continue to be so as it further embeds and receives ongoing support.
We have now scheduled regular follow-up sessions and will continue to use the online platform to enable participants to practice what they have learnt, leading to higher levels of confidence and technical ability and therefore greater results.