Managing People

Article modified: August 2016, Author:


Introduction

It is intended that most of this can be applied to volunteers as well as paid staff and covers management concepts relating to people issues. Please note, though, that you really need to do some serious reading, course work or gain experience ‘on the job’ if you want to develop people management skills properly.

Also see People Management Resources page.

Team building

Belbin is the name often bandied about here. He has developed the concept of Team Roles, with everybody having their own preferred role(s). You need a reasonable understanding of the overall idea before you can apply it fully, otherwise you will be reducing people to being pre-programmed robots. He describes 8 roles (below) which a team must fill, plus that of the subject Specialist (expert). Precise terminology can vary, but you can use these headings to consider how your team manages to cover the roles as a ‘simple’ starter.

– Chair (co-ordinator and social leader)
– Shaper (gives drive and impetus)
– Plant/Innovator (ideas person)
– Monitor/evaluator (stopping over enthusiasm, missing key points)
– Resource investigator (delicate external negotiations)
– Organiser/company worker (implementer – turns ideas into practical action)
– Team worker (diffuses friction)
– Completer/Finisher (progress chaser)

Lifecycle of teams A real team (rather than just a group of individuals) will go through 4 identifiable stages:
– Forming. Often initially seemingly a very straightforward, uneventful activity. But sooner or later, any team which is going anywhere much has to address:
– Storming. Getting all the differences out in the open, leading to:
– Norming. Agreeing who is doing what, modes of behaviour etc., leading to:
– Performing
For a project team which performs well, there is likely to be another stage – mourning – when it comes to an end.

What is perhaps worst to realise is that in a typical small to medium vol.org. you will not get much choice in team membership, and each time a member changes (leaves, gets promoted or has job re-defined) the team lifecycle is likely to get knocked back a stage (or thereabouts).

These concepts help you appreciate the problems, but don’t lose sight of the power of good teams or the fact that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Just remember some attention to how the team operates is as important as being clear on what its real tasks are.

Motivation

Herzberg splits motivation into 2 key areas:

1. Hygiene factors. These don’t motivate, but inadequate fulfilment here could be de-motivating. Includes working conditions, working relations, pay, technical supervision, company policy. Good hygiene can help prevent illness, but doesn’t improve your health!

2. Satisfiers/motivators. Achievement, responsibility, recognition, advancement, work itself.

Appraisal and Supervision

Appraisal ideally contributes to both organisational and personal learning, plus achieving the organisation’s objectives.

It works best if there are regular supervision sessions during the year, picking up and dealing with minor issues on both sides, and establishing a level of understanding between the superviser and supervisee. How and when supervision happens will vary immensely between and within different organisations – for instance residential care staff working with ‘challenging’ clients will need greater support and guidance than office staff dealing with more predictable duties.

Our sample Appraisal Form/Checklist rather assumes that positive relationships and attitudes are the norm. Questions on ‘why things didn’t work out’ will need to be expressed more diplomatically if this is not generally the case in your organisation, otherwise there is a tendency to get into apportioning blame rather than being focused on ways forward.

Most small to medium size voluntary organisations will want to keep things simple, but it is possible to have very sophisticated performance assessment models developed, which at least in theory take away some of the subjective value judgements which tend to creep in.

If a lot of work is done in teams, has this been taken into account when appraising an individual? How well have they contributed to the team’s goals, is it actually impossible with current management style to tell?

Job design, Person Spec

Job descriptions and recruitment

Before recruiting to a post, you need to (re-)design the job! A checklist :

  • what, why, when, where, how is it done?
  • what are the responsibilities (people, budgets, resources)
  • define working relationships
  • requirements for the job – skills, education, motivation, level of performance expected
  • describe conditions of work
  • check whether this all stacks up (with current job-holder, line manager)

Then draw up the job description. You should be able to draw out most of the person specification too – what are the essential or desirable skills, experience, attitudes, knowledge? How will you recognise and judge these – application form (or CV), interview, written or practical test? There is a Person Specification in our collection of sample documents, but please note that this is NOT a model, but a guide for your thoughts.

Note: it is very common for recruitment to be done looking backwards, at addressing what was missing/went wrong with a previous post occupant. Try looking forwards, at current and future needs, instead.

Sample job descriptions may be found on some websites of sector support bodies, such as CharityComms for communications roles (e.g. Head of Digital Communications article, published 2012).

Institute of Fundraising has ‘Managing Fundraisers: The essential guide to recruiting, developing & retaining fundraising talent’. Download pdf, 2MB (published 2012).



Providing Training

Organising and putting on your own training course is an attractive proposition for many voluntary organisations, given that they may be dealing with an unusual combination of staff, activities or clients, and not be able to afford expensive commercial trainer/consultants. Our advice would be to check out what standard and tailored training can be provided by those specialising in the voluntary sector first – see Training page. There are many pitfalls which could turn an in-house production into a negative rather than positive force for change. Here are a few ‘train the trainer’ tips – see also our Training Resources page.

Development / Training Needs Assessment

Can be part of Appraisal process. The idea is to identify what training is needed to do the job well, and works best if the job is well-defined with specific requirements (skills etc.). This will not always be possible, as many voluntary sector jobs are very fluid, particularly in smaller organisations.

Training Needs Assessment Before signing up for courses, an assessment of what the job involves (purpose, responsibility, key activities – should have some match to job description!), what skills and knowledge this requires (essential v. desirable), assess the gap between this and the existing position.

Training Objectives

  • What are the intended learning outcome(s) of the training sessions?
  • What will the participant be able to DO as a result of the sessions?
  • What observable activity will show what ability has been gained by the trainee as a result?Additional Key questions: How have you identified this training need? Why do you think the training would be be carried out in this way?

Another issue is trying to align the potentially conflicting wishes/abilities of an individual with the demands/possibilities of the current job and also the future needs and prospects of the organisation (which may be emerging out of the mists). Perfection here is impossible – as in much of working life where people are involved (ie most of the time) a good enough or reasonableness test has to be applied.

Have you considered …….

  • on the job coaching?
  • mentoring?
  • exchange visit, placement?
  • reading?
  • talking to experts?
  • a safe environment to practice?
  • how any course learning will be re-inforced or be negated back at work, will there be a chance to consolidate the learning or is it just an isolated (wasted) exercise?
  • is training actually going to solve anything? Is it actually a mis-match between person, task and organisation, poor job design, a structural problem?
  • that volunteers may have different needs – fit the job to the person rather than otherwise? Do they really want to get training from you so they can do paid work elsewhere (this may be a fair exchange in the right circumstances)?

Methods

Tell me, and I forgot
Show me, and I remember
Involve me, and I understand

We remember: 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear together, 80% of what we say, 90% of what we say while we do it.

“PowerPoint is about presentation (showing) not involvement. It is suitable for conferences but has no place in the training room.” A slightly extreme view, perhaps, but remember that technical training aids can actually divert attention AWAY from the training material if used improperly.

(Credits for this section: OUBS B789, Peter Firkin/Continuing to Learn, Henry Stewart/Happy Computers)

Learning Styles/Organisation

Kolb and Fry learning cycle

Learning and development, according to Kolb and Fry, follows the cycle illustrated here. The names outside the boxes are the descriptors (Learning Styles) for people who have a particular preference for that part of the cycle (Honey and Mumford). There are Questionnnaires around designed to evaluate what your preferred Learning Style is. This is helpful to trade on strengths and minimize weaknesses, as you are likely to learn most from your part of the cycle. But there are dangers of missing out stages.

learning cycle

Characteristics of adult learning process

– Bring (their own) package of experience and values to the learning process – start from where they are.
– Usually come with set intentions – wanting to solve a particular type of problem they have encountered or anticipate
– Bring certain expectations about how the learning process works (and their capabilities).
– There are competing interests – social, work, etc
– Have preferred learning styles (see above)
– Adults by definition – treat them as such
– Engaged in continuing process of growth. It may not seem like it, but adults dont stop growing and developing, but the pace and direction varies.

Training is usually done in short bursts, with clear aims. See Training Needs above.

What is a learning organisation?

Characteristics of a learning organisation (derived from Argyris): open, exploratory, enquiring, mistakes are puzzles to be analysed.

Some barriers to being a learning organisation (from Salaman and Butler):
– formal learning doesn’t fit with informal (what actually happens day-to-day, what gets praised or recognised)
– departments, specialists, experts defend their corners, don’t accept others comments, ideas
– a political approach to controlling information, defensive
– strong group loyalties and pressures to conform/come to a consensus.

Investors in People

This is the national standard developed by a wide partnership of interests. It ‘sets a level of good practice for training and development of people to achieve business goals’. It is based on 4 key principles of Commitment (to invest in people), Planning (team, individual and skill development), Action, Evaluating outcomes.

See Investors in People UK website for more info, and our People Management Resources pageĀ  – the IiP standard was re-launched April 2000. Croners, amongst others, have produced materials (printed and online) to support this.

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