The added-value approach to development


Last Published  01 August 2012

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Time needed
Allow for about 1 hour 40 minutes to run this tool.
  • Introduction - 5 minutes
  • Step 1 - 10 minutes
  • Step 2 - 15 minutes
  • Step 3 - 10 minutes
  • Step 4 - 30 minutes
  • Step 5 - 30 minutes
Suggested steps - Introduction
Introduce the activity using the Overview as your guide, together with such questions as how many of the participants have responsibility for developing staff and how many of them have ever been given a detailed description of what is meant by 'development'. The chances are that although most participants will know that they should be developing their staff and agree with the concept in principle, they are not sure how to go about it.
Step 1
So explain that you want to begin with a simple question (Task 1). Arrange the participants in small groups and pose the question, 'How do you know when someone has been developed?' Ask them to produce a list of suggestions on a sheet of flipchart paper. During the activity, visit each group and confirm that they are working along the right lines. This will help ensure a positive review.
Step 2
Hang the participants' sheets of flipchart paper on the wall and review their lists. Cross out any obvious duplications and, using the following list as your guide, add any items they may have missed.

Evidence that development has been successful
  • Increased value of contribution (quantity or quality) is noticeable.
  • Increased mastery of task (in terms of improved consistency of good results) is measurable.
  • Increased empowerment (in terms of initiative, decisions, etc) is noticeable.
  • Enlarged perspective is evident in what is said and done - thinking beyond previous boundaries, making sense of ambiguous situations which previously would have caused confusion, thinking in both the long and short term.
  • More creativity evident in response to problems, new issues.
  • There is more and better use of people networks, inside and outside the organisation (as appropriate for that job level), resulting in greater achievement.
  • There is a sense of personal growth. It is possible to cite examples of what is being achieved now that before the development activity would have been beyond the learner's ability.
  • A member of staff may be given, or considered for, tasks which before the development activity would have been beyond his or her ability.
  • He or she can successfully take on higher-profile, riskier or more important tasks.
  • It is possible to cite examples of what has been learned, how it has been utilised, and the results that have been achieved.
  • The learner is increasingly sought by others for help, advice and guidance.
Step 3
When you have reviewed Task 1, point out that using that list alone will help plan staff development. You will help further by describing a simple yet very effective model. Explain the 'Value' model using the following notes as your guide:
  • Employers employ us because of the value they receive from the investment they make in us.
  • 'Value' concerns the contribution we make, and that contribution has four aspects: the tasks we perform, the skills we use, the relationships we build and the perspective we adopt.
  • These aspects can range between two extremes. At one extreme they can be simple, defined, procedural, narrow and safe, while at the other they can be complex, ambiguous, creative, broad and challenging.
  • By placing your staff somewhere along this continuum, either for their job as a whole or for individual tasks within it, and by asking what they would have to do to progress along the range of value, you can answer many questions about development without the issue being confused by traditional thinking regarding courses to attend or by development being thought of as synonymous with promotion.
Step 4
Explain to participants that you would now like them to apply this model and the list created in Task 1 to two case studies. As they may not be familiar with the industries concerned, encourage them to generate many alternative development methods rather than just seeking one right way. Ask them to record their results on sheets of flipchart paper.

Step 5
Explain to the participants that because they have been encouraged to generate alternatives, there are no model answers for these case studies. Instead, you would like them to review each other's work. Hang their sheets of flipchart paper on the wall and ask each group to review one other group's work and to annotate each sheet with the evidence they would expect to see from the development methods listed. Explain that if they feel any of the evidence is difficult to predict, they are free to discuss it with the group that originated the flipchart and arrive at a joint outcome.

Then discuss each group's suggested development methods. Pay special attention to those that:
  • result in an easily identifiable increase in value through skills, tasks, relationships or perspective
  • cost little or no money
  • can be arranged with the authority of manager and staff without recourse to a higher authority.
  • Explain that you have emphasised these last points to highlight how many development opportunities there are in and around a person's job.
  • Finally, ask participants to compare this approach to staff development with what they currently do and to consider how they could improve their current approach. Discuss their ideas.