The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for the protection and expansion of England and Scotland forests and woodlands. Across the UK it produces timber, protects forest environments and runs leisure facilities across their forest holdings. In the face of organisational and political change, it became clear that they needed to ensure that their entire band of middle managers had the skills and abilities to drive the organisation forward and make the changes that would sustain it over the long term.
The overarching objective was to provide a method of consistently measuring all middle managers in relation to a new competency framework so that they understood their strengths and development needs. Once assessed, individual middle managers needed to understand their development options so that they were able to access them quickly and effectively, based on individual need. The challenge of this Development Centre was that many of the individuals were highly skilled and educated in forestry but had had little opportunity to develop line management skills which were needed at more senior levels. Individuals needed to understand where they needed to broaden their experience, with specific guidance about how to go about doing that within the organisation. The Forestry Commission is also known as an organisation where employees have long tenure. Our challenge was to help individuals who had possibly been doing the same role for some time to see that they had potential for senior roles and help them understand how that could be achieved.
Eliesha’s solution was to design a staged process consisting of online assessment, a Development Centre, reports and follow-up coaching sessions. Delegates initially completed online personality and motivation assessments and a 360 degree assessment. This provided essential diagnostic data. Participants then attended a 1½ day Development Centre where they took part in interactive and individual exercises, along with individual feedback and personal planning sessions. This resulted in individual reports which, along with their 360 degree feedback, were discussed at a 2 hour coaching session two weeks after the Development Centre. Coaches encouraged the participants to look at all the evidence and helped them draw out development themes. At this stage, they also had a discussion about the wide range of development options which were on offer - everything from formal training, coaching and mentoring to opportunities to shadow different jobs. We also developed a cohort by cohort set of development needs so the client was able to match their own development options to the cohort’s needs at a group level.
“Feedback was highly positive and we were able to capture it as we ran each successive Development Centre and subsequent coaching sessions. In terms of KPI’s, we delivered complex Development Centres in a consistent manner across the programme.”
Participants received a consistent Development Centre experience and we were able to maintain a high degree of reliability and validity in the development process. We used the same team for each event which meant we developed a strong understanding of the organisation’s culture. Participants received their Development Centre reports within a specific timeframe following their attendance and we scheduled all feedback sessions within 2 weeks of the Development Centres.