Standards in Registered Training Organisations

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1. Determine development needs

One of the biggest challenges facing Registered Training Organisations is maintaining the required level of skills and knowledge within their workforce necessary to survive and remain competitive in an environment which is subject to strict compliance and statutory regulations imposed under the Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015.

Investing in learning and development programs has never been more important, with studies showing that continued workplace learning is a critical success factor for remaining competitive in today’s global economy and the achievement of organisational goals.

Many organisations have acknowledged that people are their most valued resource, and one of the main reasons for this is that the knowledge, skills, talent and capacities of people working for an organisation are the most crucial factor for outcome achievement of the organisation. Further, it is said that competition and challenges can be tackled and overcome by the performance and the responsibilities handled by the organisation’s employees. It therefore stands to reason the development of the organisations workforce is essential.

Whether as a compliance officer or a compliance administration officer, you may be required to develop the team and individuals within your own work group, as well as other teams and individuals within the Registered Training Organisation (RTO), to ensure they perform efficiently and cohesively, striving together to achieve organisational goals. Through monitoring the performance of teams and individuals, you will be able to identify and implement learning and development programs to improve workplace performance.

In this topic, you will learn how to:

  • Identify and implement learning and development needs
  • Develop and implement learning plans
  • Encourage self-evaluation and continuous improvement
  • Collect and compare feedback on performance

Identify and implement learning and development needs

The role of a team

An RTO can have any number of departments and teams that work together to achieve the organisation’s goals.  Underpinning these goals is the requirement for the RTO to ensure it fully complies with the Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 (the Standards) at all times.

These teams are essential to the organisation’s success and while each department manager will be responsible for their day to day activities, the Compliance department and its team are responsible for ensuring that team members across the organisation, have the required skills and knowledge to improve the RTO’s performance and meet its responsibility under the Standards.  Within your role in Compliance, you may be your responsibility to ensure your team have the required skills and knowledge to perform their roles at optimum level. You may also be responsible for determining the development needs for other teams and individuals across the organisation whose workplace performance does not meet organisational or statutory requirements.

The following table provides an example of some of the teams you may find in an RTO and which is of course, dependent on the size and needs of the organisation.

Table 1.1

Operations Finance IT
Compliance Marketing Human Resource
Training/Assessors Academic Contracts
Administration Sales Legal
International Learner Support Team Project
Senior Management Business Development Call/Service Centre

Not all teams might be located in one central Head Office, with many RTO’s having locations in other areas.  For example, a national RTO has teams located in other parts of Australia, often referred to as a Campus. Another example could be a team of remote trainers/assessors, working through a centralised training and delivery model supporting distance and/or on-line delivery models.  These team members may be located at one or more of the campuses, or working from home. While remote teams have in the past, represented a challenge to their manager in managing and monitoring their work performance, technology has enabled these teams to be linked and they now function more effectively.

It needs to be remembered that with such a diverse range of teams, a team is not just a group of people working together in the same area or location. A team is a group of individuals working in a combined effort and focus to achieve a common goal.  Within a campus, you could find replication of the teams located in Head Office, such as sales, administration, learner support and trainers and assessors.

Therefore, the relationship you have with your team and the teams across the organisation, will directly affect the success of the teams and the RTO.  Your role will require you to be an effective leader, communicator, information sharer, listener, motivator and above all, be responsible for encouraging and fostering a learning culture within the team and the organisation.

Why a Learning Culture?

Research has shown that a learning culture embeds professional development into the core of the organisation, ensuring knowledge is shared between teams and individuals to improve practice, which leads to continuous improvement across the organisation.

A learning culture that supports and encourages both the individuals and the organisation to increase skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis, will in turn, promote continuous improvement, support the achievement of the RTO’s business goals, increase the ability to deal with change, support your community of learners and sustain a competitive advantage for the organisation within a highly competitive environment.

Identifying learning needs

While your role is to ensure your own team works effectively, it will also involve monitoring the performance and work practices of other organisational teams and team members to identify key areas for improvement, and address their learning needs to ensure their work performance meets the required organisational standards.

The most effective way to do this is to adopt a logical and structured systematic approach, providing a clear structure with which to determine exactly what skills need to be developed to improve work practices.

One of the first steps is to ascertain the learning and development needs of the organisation and then, matching the required skills and knowledge of team members with the requirements of the organisation.

This process is called a Learning Need Analysis (LNA), and is based on a formal or informal assessment of current skills and knowledge and on any current or anticipated gaps. It can be likened to a health check on the skills and capabilities of all or part of the organisation, and is based on the systematic collection of feedback about the team and individual competencies and the skills required by the organisation.

For example, a formal LNA might be undertaken by the HR department as part of its workforce planning strategy, whereas Compliance might undertake an informal LNA to identify skills gaps of its trainers in assessment practices as part of its auditing process.

The outcome of an LNA should at all times, be a learning solution such as:

  • Coaching or mentoring
  • Webinar or web-based learning
  • A qualification
  • Any number of learning interventions based on achieving knowledge, both on and off the job

The process flows from the organisation’s business strategy, with the goal to develop a plan to make sure there is sufficient competency to sustain business performance and meet statutory requirements.

Analysis of learning and development needs can be done at a number of levels:

Level 1 – Organisation, as a whole – at this level, an analysis will identify what types of learning is needed to ensure that all teams and individuals have the right skills and knowledge to deliver the organisation’s business strategy and goals and meet its Statutory requirements.

Level 2 – For a specific department, project or work area – the analysis at this level might identify new projects and opportunities which requires new ways of working, while restructuring also brings about changes in job roles.

Level 3 – For individuals – this analysis links the individual’s own personal learning and development needs to those of the business, often carried out as part of performance review, or a Compliance Monitoring review.

No matter whether the process requires a formal or informal LNA, it is important to make sure that the analysis carried out at any of these three levels are considered with one another. Refer to Table 1.2

Your analysis will require you to break down the three levels into the three needs areas identified below and highlighted in Table 1.2, which have proven to be very effective in most organisations, and are very well suited to identifying learning needs within an RTO.

1. Industry-related needs

These needs are usually easy to identify. They are certain pieces of industry knowledge that employees should have, both as an individual and as a team.  This need essentially derives from how the organisation fits into industry, and within the training and education industry, it is a critical aspect of their business strategy and compliance under the Standards.

For example, if an RTO delivers qualifications across business, information technology and child care, they will require employees with the relevant industry knowledge and experience, as perhaps the qualifications, to design, develop and deliver the products and services effectively. When assessing these needs, know how to differentiate what needs to be known from what would be nice to know.

 2. Job-related needs

Job related needs relate directly to the jobs which are part of the organisation.  The purpose of this assessment is to facilitate employee learning of job-related knowledge and skills to help them improve their performance and to provide employees with the skills needed for both present and future jobs.  The purpose of job-related needs is to improve the final output of the job.

For example, one of the roles of a trainer is to upload Learner Files which include completed assessments, pursuant to organisational, legislative and statutory requirements. The final output of the job itself is to maintain the organisation’s compliance under the Standards and is related to on-the job training.

3.Task-related needs

A task related need is specific to the different tasks or processes that you would do that forms part of your actual job.  Consider your own job – it’s a combination of different tasks and processes that create your job on a daily to yearly basis.  This is something that all jobs share. Sometimes one or more aspects of a job aren’t working and affect the overall productivity of an employee, or as is the case in the following example, also affects the RTO’s compliance.

Following on from the job-related example, your RTO has implemented a new Learning Management System (LMS) for the delivery of on-line programs.  While your trainers were having no difficulty recording and uploading learner assessment files on the previous system, many seem to be having trouble using the new system to complete the same task to the extent that an audit revealed quite many learner assessment files had not been uploaded for quite some time.

It is important however, that an analysis carried out at any of these three levels, are considered with one another. In other words, you may find that while conducting an informal LNA at Level 2, you need to consider the implications of one or both other levels.

Table 1.2

Level of Analysis Focus of the analysis Sources of data
1. Organisational

Business strategy and goals – (Industry related needs)

 

Compliance and Statutory

  • Business goals
  • Business environment
  • Future trends and marketplace
  • Statutory Policies & Procedures
  • Current workforce performance
  • Current capability of workforce
  • Skills and knowledge required
  • Professional qualifications
  • Business Plan
  • Mission & Value Statements
  • Succession Plans
  • Standards for RTO’s 2015 (ASQA)
  • Customer complaints
  • Skills Audit
  • Professional Development Profiles
  • Current learning evaluations and feedback
2. Department, project or work area – (job related needs)
  • Department/team needs and goals
  • Department restructure
  • Inter department relationships
  • Team job roles
  • Department/team plans
  • Project Plans
  • Restructure Models
  • Team performance appraisals
  • Job Descriptions
3. Individuals – (task related needs)
  • Personal profile of skills, qualifications and knowledge
  • Industry relevant experience
  • Tasks
  • Resumes
  • Appraisals
  • Professional Development Plan
  • Client feedback/complaints

Assessment methods

Whatever assessment method is chosen, the primary objective will be the same – a learning program that provides effective solutions to both the organisation, the team and the individuals. However, at the core of any learning program is correctly identifying what or who needs to be trained.  LNA’s conducted incorrectly can lead to learning solutions that deliver:

  • The wrong competencies
  • The wrong people
  • The wrong learning methods

The results of your LNA will provide you with answers to the following questions:

  • What is needed and why?
  • Where it is needed?
  • Who needs it?
  • How will it be provided?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What will be the effect on the business?

There will be times when an LNA will be planned, but other times when it’s not.  See Table 1.3 for examples.

Table 1.3

Planned Unplanned

 

Rise in complaints New legislation
Grievance against a line manager ASQA intervention
Desk Audit Entering a new market i.e. Scope of Registration
Validation of learner files New Technology Systems (LMS, CRM)
Learner surveys Business Merger

Whether it is a planned or unplanned process, an LNA should answer the following questions:

  • What is the goal and objective of the learning?
  • What ‘needs’ will be addressed by the learning?
  • Any recent process or procedure changes?
  • What resources are available or needed?
  • Who needs to receive the learning?
  • Who can serve as subject matter experts?
  • What are the knowledge, skills and abilities?
  • What are the time preferences for undertaking the learning program?

When you are conducting an LNA, you must be very clear about the purpose of the process and what you want your team to do.  Naturally, there will be common learning needs that will apply to some, if not all, team members. Remember though, that each member of the team is unique; each have different skills and different levels of understanding as well as varying responsibilities. A “one size fits all” approach does not work. By taking the time to understand the learning that each individual need, you will be able to provide the right learning and development for the right people.

The following steps provide a framework for better understanding and identifying people’s learning needs:

  1. Review team member’s job descriptions

A job description defines what work team members should be doing and what skills and knowledge they must have to do that job role effectively and in accordance with organisational policies and procedures

  1. Observe team performance.

One of the best ways to identify learning needs is by watching your team on a day-to-day basis. This doesn’t mean you sit there with pen and paper making copious notes, day in day out! It simply means that by watching how individuals handle their tasks, problem solve, follow procedures and work with others while producing quality of work expected, should help you identify skill gaps or areas in which they could use further development.

It is important at this stage that you establish a collaborative culture to ensure that team members understand how your observations will benefit the group. Be sensitive, ask open questions, and where appropriate, explain your actions.  It needs to also be remembered that poor work performance is not always caused from a lack of skills or knowledge.  At one time or another, everyone has personal problems that can impact on their behaviour at work, which can cause lack of communication or loss of concentration or focus on their tasks at hand. Behaviour problems may also be because of conflict or personal difficulties within the team. In these cases, conflict resolution or communication skills workshops may be needed.

  1. Discuss learning with individuals

Specific needs of individuals can be looked at in a number of ways including performance reviews, informal discussions, and feedback received from others (discussed in Step 4). It is important that you remain open and honest in these discussions so team members know why you are asking questions, and how they can help. Be sensitive and supportive, asking them about their personal goals, and how these goals may align with the organisation’s objectives.  By explaining how their responses will assist you in planning their professional development and help the output of their team and the organisation, you will help ease any anxiety or even intimidation, they may be feeling.

  1. Gather additional data

By approaching data gathering in a sensitive way, you can learn a lot from others who work closely with the person you want to assess.  Data can be gathered by:

  • Performance reviews
  • Complaints
  • Compliance Audit reports
  • Manager, Supervisor or Team Leader
  • Other work colleagues
  • Work produced

When gathering data, make sure you don’t undertake any action that may undermine the person’s dignity.  If the culture of your organisation is such that it is acceptable to talk openly to co-workers, do so with a lot of sensitivity, if you do it at all.   Avoid unfocused generalisations. The data you collect must be valid and reliable, ask people to back up their comments with specific examples.

  1. Analyse and prepare data

Look closely at the information gathered in the first four steps. Do you see any trends? Are skills gaps clearly identified? The goal here is to bring together the most relevant information so that you can develop a learning plan for the team member/s.

  1. Determine Action Steps

At this stage, you should have a good idea of the learning and development that the team member or the team needs. You now have to decide what you are going to do to make it happen.

Some learning methods will work better than others. No two people learn or retain information in the same way, but research shows that we all retain information much better if we actually perform the skill or task.

There are various ways people can learn new skills and knowledge:

  • Coaching, mentoring or supervision
  • Formal or informal learning programs
  • Cross-Training
  • Internal or external training
  • Work experience
  • Conferences
  • Web-based

Before committing to any one learning program, don’t forget to consider people’s individual learning style. Everyone learns differently and you may need to customise the learning to accommodate everyone’s best learning style.  If you are considering external training such as a series of webinars, attendance at a conference or seminar, or undertaking a qualification through TAFE or elsewhere, you may need to consider the costs associated with that method and gain approval for the expense incurred.  There is often the need to strike a balance between the cost of a particular training method and its ability to achieve the desired results.

The value of career planning sessions

Some organisations, as part of their Professional Development Policy, offer career planning sessions to their staff. These sessions are usually led and managed by the HR Department or Senior Managers. Sitting with your team members to discuss both their short-term goals and learning requirements, and their long-term career opportunities within the organisation, will help determine the skills they need to further their career and how to acquire these skills. This session can be done during a performance appraisal or form part of the LNA.  The real outcome here is that together, you can select the most suitable development options for that team member.

Align learning and development needs with organisational requirements

To conduct business safely and ethically, RTO’s like many other organisations, have compliance regulations they must meet, such as legislative and statutory requirements, licences, codes of conduct and organisational policies and procedures. Most organisations have developed a HR policy and procedure manual/employee handbook which should at least provide the following policies and procedures:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Anti-bullying
  • Anti-harassment
  • Use of email, internet and social media
  • Grievance
  • Workplace Health & Safety
  • Drug and Alcohol
  • Return to work
  • Code of Conduct
  • Leave provisions

Specific policies and procedures relating to developing teams which you may need to refer to could include:

  • Selection and recruitment
  • Induction and Probation
  • Performance Management
  • Promotions and Transfers
  • Professional Development including study leave
  • Role Clarity (including job descriptions)
  • Managing complaints
  • Terminations

An RTO’s statutory requirements include policies and procedures that are benchmarked against the Standards to ensure best practice is followed.

It is therefore, very important that you and your team members are aware of all policies and procedures, with particular emphasis on those aligned to the Standards, and in your role as a compliance team member, it is the Standards that you will, in most cases, be using as a benchmark to review and assess their skills and knowledge against.

Case Study

David is one of the Compliance Officers at Zoobidoo Learning Academy Pty. Ltd. It has been brought to his attention that Maria, who has been employed at one of the national campuses to deliver the Diploma of Leadership and Management, does not hold the full qualification.  On reviewing her trainer profile, he sees that while she holds eight of the Units of Competency, she does not hold two of the core units.  He also notes that Maria has no industry currency relevant to this new Qualification’s Core Units. David will need to  issue a Corrective Action Report for these two non-compliances under Standard 1 of the Standards for RTO’s 2015. These non-compliances will form the basis of a Learning and Development Plan for Maria.

You should take time to review your organisational policies and procedures, especially those specific to professional development and developing your team, to make sure that before your move forward and develop learning plans, you are aware of any requirements in relation to professional development, thus ensuring that the learning programs you implement are in line with organisational requirements.

Practice task 1

  1. What organisational requirements should you be familiar with when planning a learning program.

2.  List the policies and procedures are available in your workplace that will provide you guidance when identifying learning and development needs?

  1. List and briefly describe the different methods used to identify staff learning and development needs in your current workplace.

Develop learning plans that meet training needs

What is a learning plan?

A learning plan can be likened to an action plan and while it may be known in different workplaces as a Professional Development Plan, Staff Development Plan, Performance Improvement Plan or a Team Development Plan, outlines the learning and development activities to be undertaken by an individual or group, for them to perform their job properly.  The main objective of a learning plan is to identify and develop the skills, knowledge and attributes that will improve the individual, team and organisational capabilities.

As we have already discussed, learning plans can be developed for:

  • Organisations as a whole – industry related
  • Departments or Teams – job related
  • Individuals – task related

Developing a learning plan involves:

  • Determining the learning goals and objectives of the organisation (strategic), the team goals and the individual
  • Prioritising the learning needs in collaboration with the individual or the team members, discussing their personal learning requirements to achieve work objectives and matching these with the needs of the organisation
  • Identifying the learning experience/s needed to meet the learning needs (i.e. on and off the job training, coaching)
  • Identifying what support will be required (resources)
  • Setting target dates for completion of learning activities
  • Methods to assess/monitor the learning against the learning plan

Using facilitation methods

Have you been asked to facilitate a meeting? Or put another way, have you guided, led or acted as the team/group leader at a meeting?  If so, then you have already experienced being a facilitator, which simply means a person who guides and helps the team or group to achieve the meeting objectives, and remains in a neutral position, not taking any particular position in the discussion.

Facilitation can be used in a variety of contexts including team development and improvement, and is the process of helping teams or individuals learn for themselves to reach consensus or to find their own answers to problems.  It focuses on how people participate in the process of learning or planning, not just on what gets achieved.

You may have been facilitating team meetings in your current workplace for some time.  Facilitation can improve the sense of engagement felt by your team members, which is a very important factor in team performance. It’s one way that when developing teams, you can maximise the benefits of both improved teamwork and the specific strengths of the individual team members.

A quick search on the internet will identify a wide range of team facilitation methods that can be used to effectively facilitate a team event.  The following are the more common approaches that you may like to use to encourage the development and improvement of your team:

  • Create the right environment – quiet area, plenty of space, informal seating, sufficient time
  • Ensure expected outcome/s or objectives are clear and gain agreement from the group
  • Brainstorming – generates ideas and makes for a good introduction to the ‘event’ and helps to establish rapport
  • Set ground rules – this can be done as a group activity i.e. acceptable behaviours
  • Decision-making techniques – allow them to explore options, select the best solution and make decisions as a group
  • Action planning – how to get things done
  • Management of participants – encourage quieter participants while controlling those who tend to dominate.
  • Holding a group review to check progress

One of the most important things you can do in your role as a facilitator of a team meeting, is to be clear about the content of the meeting or the workshop: what it is that you are facilitating?  What is the meeting for and what is the meeting about.  The following questions may help you in your preparation:

  • Why have you called the meeting?
  • What is the context of the meeting? For example – what are the specific issues
  • What needs to be done?
  • Who should do it?
  • When does it need to be done?
  • What information is needed?

The content is the key reason for your meeting.  Facilitating is not always an easy task but it can be made easier if you are well prepared.  Meetings that are ineffective or fail is usually because it wasn’t clear what they were meant to achieve.

Documenting learning needs

Throughout the LNA process, it is important that you document and record the learning and development needs of your team and individuals.  You will need refer to this information when preparing a list of both team and individual learning needs. This documented evidence should clearly identify the skills gaps, how these were identified and the learning activity required and should be recorded in accordance with organisational requirements.

This information will come from your LNA, either formal such as a performance review or appraisal, or informal, such as an observation or assessment of work produced.

Case Study

Robyn Church is the National Compliance Manager for Zoobidoo Learning Academy Pty. Ltd. The Compliance Department is composed of various teams supporting the organisation in meeting its compliance requirements under the Standards. Over the past few months Robyn has received a number of comments from colleagues regarding the work performance of some of her team. While she has undertaken performance appraisals over the past few months with some of her team, she decided to take the opportunity, while working on a project with most of her team, to keep an eye on the work practices and processes across the department, and see if there were any performance gaps.

The following is an example of notes which relate to the Compliance team’s learning and development needs made by Robyn which has been gathered from performance appraisals and observations. Robyn has noted whether the learning is a team or individual need, and what the priority is. These notes will serve as a record of the team’s needs, and will be used for more detailed planning.

EXAMPLE: LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT NEEDS

Date Team Member Learning and Development Needs Priority Learning/practice
19 March David Simpson (Compliance Officer) C.R.I.C.O.S.

Promotion & transfer

B Job Shadowing /Coaching
7 April Janelle Higgins (Compliance Officer) Facilitation Skills – Facilitating Validation Processes A On the Job and Coaching
12 April Team (Compliance Officers) Email Etiquette A H.R. Department Mentor
14 April Sue Davidson (Data Admin Team) Computer Skills – Office 365 Use of SharePoint A Coaching & On-line tutorials
1 May Team (Contracts) Changes to CRM. Need training in new procedures C In-house

Developing a Team Learning Plan

Developing teams is important for establishing strong team dynamics and teamwork within groups. Teams engaged in learning together obtain a far more natural team building dynamic, providing encouragement and support for each other. A collaborative learning team tends to learn through discussion, clarifying ideas, and evaluating other’s ideas. Often a team member aided by another team member will attain a better way of thinking about a task and remember how to do that task for a longer time, than when working individually.

One of the first steps in identifying team needs, is to consider whether you will provide the learning for the whole team or just one person, who can then transfer their learning through on the job training or coaching to the rest of the group.  For example, Robyn has noted that the whole team needs skills practice in the new CRM.  She might consider two options for this team training.  One to have an in-house training session for the whole team, or select one team member to get the necessary skills and pass this learning on to the other team members.

When developing a team learning plan, you should also consider the preferred learning styles of individuals in the group and whether these can be accommodated.

Remember, a learning plan is to outline the learning and development activities that are to be undertaken by the team, for them to perform their job properly and improve their work performance.  When developing and recording your team learning plan, it should include the following:

  • Identified learning needs
  • Identified and agreed learning activities
  • Learning goal/outcome
  • Target date/s
  • Monitoring

 

EXAMPLE: Learning plan for Compliance Team

Learning needs Learning Activity Learning Goal/Outcome Target Date Monitoring
Written Communication / Email Etiquette

(Job related & Task related)

Coaching by HR Team members demonstrate appropriate email etiquette as defined in organisational policies & procedures. Members use emails as a professional form of communication to all internal and external clients 27 April Team Performance Improvement Sessions

Internal Stakeholder feedback

Technology 3-hour skills workshop and coaching by IT Systems Team members demonstrate better understanding and application of CRM system 15 May CRM reporting accuracy

Internal Stakeholder feedback

Team meetings will provide an opportunity for your team members to discuss and report on the outcome of their activities. This is also an opportunity for encouraging self-evaluation so that team members can identify areas in which they need to improve. Ask your team members what learning and development programs they think would help them improve their skills and knowledge and support them in their current role and career goals.

Developing an Individual Learning Plan

If a learning plan is to achieve its outcomes, it must be developed collaboratively with all parties, agreed to and then implemented. Develop the learning plan with the team member and encourage them to ask questions on how this need was identified, and how it will benefit them in their work. Give them the opportunity to share with you their career goals and what the learning needs they have identified.  You may like to do this at a Career Planning Session, forming part of your LNA.

Completing an individual learning plan can be in the same format as that of your team plan, but can also incorporate any other information that is required to meet your organisations requirements.

EXAMPLE: Individual Learning Plan for Sue Davidson – Compliance Admin Officer

Learning needs Learning Activity Learning Goal/Outcome Target Date Monitoring
Computer Skills – Office 365 – Share Point To undertake coaching sessions in the application of Office 365 / Share Point To use Office 365 and Share Point effectively and efficiently in job role, specifically in uploading Compliance Reports and documentation in Master Documents and using Share Point internally. 29th April Performance Appraisal

Feedback from team leader

Practice Task 2

1. What is the purpose of a learning plan?

2. How could using facilitation techniques help you encourage improvement in the work performance of your team?

3. What are the benefits of using a consultative process in the development of a learning plan to the learner and the organisation?

Encourage self-evaluation and continuous improvement

Why self-assessment?

Performance improvement starts with a simple question – “How well am I doing?”  Self-assessment helps to answer that question, and those that flow from it – “How do I know?” and “How can I do better?” Self-assessment is a process of pausing and taking stock and reviewing the current situation. Self-assessment involves people in the regular and systematic review of their processes and results.

A successful team is one that uses the individual skills and knowledge of its members to work towards and achieve team goals.  Each member’s contributions should be appreciated and acknowledged, and each team member should also value and recognise their own individual contribution to the performance of the team.  Team members need time to reflect on and evaluate their own activities and achievements.

Initiating team self-reflection and self-assessment and leading that process are very important leadership tasks.  You should encourage them to think about what they are contributing – to self-assess their own input.  This process can start with you asking questions which might help to highlight where learning and development should be targeted, asking your team to suggest how needs can be addressed.

The self-assessment process is best done after your team has completed an activity or project.  For example, a team of Compliance Officers may have just completed a desk Audit in preparation for the organisation’s re-registration audit due later in the year. The debriefing session is an ideal opportunity to receive their thoughts and suggestions for improvement.

  • What did we achieve?
  • Did we manage within the timeframes required?
  • What were the strengths of the team’s performance
  • What were the weaknesses of the team’s performance
  • Were there any skills gaps in the group that weakened the team’s ability to achieve its goals?
  • How did the team handle this?
  • How satisfied are we with our own performance?
  • If not, what could be done to improve performance
  • What feedback was received from stakeholders on the way in which the team handled the Audit process
  • Who needs more support in the team and from whom?

Encourage individual self-assessment and self-reflection

By encouraging team members to self-assess their own work performance regularly, learners can:

  • Identify their own skills
  • See where to focus their attention
  • Set realistic goals
  • Revise their work practices
  • Track and monitor their own progress

This process helps the team member to stay involved and motivated in their learning activities. Research also indicates that self-assessment encourages reflection on their own learning; promotes independence, responsibility and ownership of the learning; encourages a stronger focus on the learning process and importantly takes the shift away from having something imposed on them by the organisation, to a potential partnership.   Self-assessment also fosters and supports the learning culture in your organisation.

What is self-reflection?

Self-reflection is thinking about one’s own behaviour and feelings. It’s a way of assessing the way we work and the way we learn.  Self-reflection helps us to develop our skills and assess their effectiveness, rather than just carrying on and doing things the way we have always done them. It’s about asking ourselves, what we do and why we do it, then deciding whether there is a better way, or a more efficient way of doing it in the future.

Reflection is an important part of learning. For example, would you use a cake recipe if the cake didn’t work out the first time you used the recipe? You would either adjust the recipe or find a new one.  Each of us can become stuck in a routine that may not be working the way it should. Thinking about your own skills can help you identify changes you might need to make. Just because we have learnt something one way, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done in a more effective way.

Self-assessment and self-reflection is a process for continuous improvement – improving your personal and professional skills and abilities.

Individuals can reflect on their performance, skills and development needs using a variety of activities or tools, including:

  • Feedback from their manager or supervisor, colleagues, clients
  • Performance appraisal process
  • Competency standards that match their job role
  • Job Description – has it changed and if so, does the team member require new skills
  • Workplace Skills and Behaviour Questionnaire or Survey

The purpose of a workplace skills and behaviour questionnaire is to identify areas where you may need advice, learning and development.  A simple assessment by either ticking Yes or No, and whether you believe each skill and behaviour is essential (E) or desirable (F) for the effective performance of your role.  Figure 1.1 is an example of a generic workplace skills and behaviour survey which you could adapt for your workplace.

Figure 1.1 –  Workplace Skills and Behaviour Survey 

Skills and workplace behaviours Yes No E or D
I can confidently reduce and handle interruptions effectively      
I complete all my high-priority tasks each day      
I am confident explaining new concepts to other people      
I would be able to give a presentation to my team members on handling conflict      
I enjoy the challenge of solving problems      
I am a highly organised person and meet deadlines easily      
I can communicate confidently (face to face; telephone; email)      
I am a confident coach and mentor      
I develop positive relationships with those I work with both within my team and other teams in the organisation      
I make sure that I understand the goals that the team is trying to achieve      
I am always looking at ways to improve my own work performance      
I understand the concepts of professional development      
I am sensitive to the roles of other team members      
I easily adjust to changes in routine, company policy and continue to be productive      
I can be relied upon to complete tasks and follow up as needed      

 

Practice Task 3

1. Complete the self-assessment given in Figure 1.1 and answer the questions below.

a) What learning need/s did you identify?

 

 

b)  Using one of the learning needs identified in the self-assessment, complete the following learning plan.

Learning needs Learning Activity Learning Goal/Outcome Target Date Monitoring

c) Briefly summarise how a self-assessment such as this could help your team members in their role.

2.  Briefly outline what actions you could use to encourage your team members to self-evaluate their performance or learning needs.

Collect and compare feedback on performance

At one time or another, we all have and will continue to, receive feedback on our performance. This feedback is critical to improving our performance and if feedback isn’t received, we go on doing what we do with no change.  This isn’t to say that all feedback must be positive for us to improve our performance. Positive feedback is always welcomed as it assures us that what we are doing is meeting the expected standards of the organisation.

One of the most powerful tools for improving performance is feedback, and it’s one of the most cost-effective performance management tools for an organisation to use. However, for feedback to be helpful in improving performance, it should be used in conjunction with setting performance goals.

The information you receive from the feedback can be used to support, motivate, direct, correct and regulate work performance and outcomes. It also clarifies the standards and expectations of the work to be performed.  Feedback from managers or supervisors about the quality of their team members work is needed to support their team members in understanding what is needed to continue good performance, correct poor performance or improve on average performance.

Feedback should be collected on a regular basis, informal, impromptu, on-the-sport or formal and can come from different sources including:

  • Managers and supervisors
  • Performance appraisals/reviews
  • Work colleagues
  • Customers (learner surveys)
  • Comments/complaints from others
  • One on one conversations

Collecting feedback is a necessary process and one that can lead and support changes that can improve overall team performance.

Compare feedback

Once you have received all the information from feedback, you should compare the information with the learning needs you have established, and to check if problem areas identified in feedback could be resolved through other learning opportunities.

Feedback received may identify a problem area of performance which is not due to skills or knowledge but rather to poor scheduling of tasks.  Addressing poor performance can often be resolved through conversations and discussions with the person or team to talk about the situation and come to a resolution.

Providing feedback

When providing feedback, it should be given in a manner that will best help improve performance. The following guidelines are worth considering:

  • Feedback should be descriptive, not judgemental
  • Feedback should be performance specific, not personal
  • Feedback works best when it relates to a specific goal
  • Feedback should always benefit the team member, not the person giving it
  • Feedback should balance positive and negative comments
  • Feedback should be timely. If improvement needs to be made in their performance, the sooner they find out about it the sooner they can correct the problem

People always respond better to feedback that’s presented in a positive manner. No-one likes receiving negative feedback. However, even though negative feedback is not readily welcomed, it should be used constructively to improve the person’s performance. Constructive feedback when delivered positively and encouragingly will provide the message – `you are doing a great job but there are some areas that perhaps we can work on together’.

Before giving negative feedback take the opportunity to consider what may have caused the problem before discussing it with the individual or team, as there may have been a very good reason for what happened to cause the feedback. There may be any number of factors that affected the person’s performance, so it is better not to jump to a conclusion prematurely.  For example, it could be a matter of a misunderstanding, a lack of training, a need for development in the areas of problem-solving, or incorrect procedures and processes.

PRACTICE TASK 4

1. Briefly describe two approaches used by your organisation to obtain feedback on a team member’s performance.

2. Outline the benefits of feedback to both the organisation and the individual.

Reflection

Teams exist within all levels of your organisation, and in today’s competitive environment, productive and effective teams are necessary if organisational goals are to be achieved. Effective teams are characterised by a combined effort and focus, with each team ember taking responsibility for its success and the achievement of team goals.

Within your role you may be required to identify and address learning and development needs of your team, and indeed, teams across the RTO.  Knowing and understanding the concepts of team development is critical in order to strengthen the cohesiveness and effectiveness of the team.

Topic 1 has introduced you to the skills and knowledge required to determine individual and team development needs and to facilitate the development of a team.

 

 

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