Sally Eaton examines the benefits of CPD and the line manager’s role in implementing it.

Should I place emphasis on CPD for my staff?

Reasons for:
  • To produce a more competent and capable work force.

  • By sharing your skills with others, you free yourself to do other tasks.

  • You share the workload and achieve more by involving other team members.

  • Team members become more motivated and enthusiastic.

  • Individuals appreciate the investment you are making and stay with you because they feel challenged.

Reasons against
  • Once staff are developed they may leave to seek promotion.
  • It may take up valuable time.
  • It can be costly.
  • You may not feel capable of training or developing someone.
  • You may be afraid that if you share your skills, you will eventually be redundant yourself.

The concept of lifelong learning is not new but is often more of an aspiration than an integral part of an organisation’s activities and ethos. From the person at the top to the most part time member of staff, CPD needs to be seen as an important and significant way to raise standards, keep staff and nurture potential.

You can sense a nursery’s atmosphere, good or bad, when you walk in. An environment where staff are motivated, happy, lively, enthusiastic and keen is almost always a sign that they feel cared for and respected. This will be a place where parents will feel happy to leave their children. Taking time to train your staff will also increase skills and levels of professionalism and this too will create a positive reputation for the nursery.

Should I place emphasis on CPD for my staff?

For some pros and cons see above. Creating a life-long learning culture is not easy. So many important and urgent needs arise throughout the day that training can sometimes not receive the time and attention it deserves. John Adair is a well known writer of management and leadership books. He recognised that there were three key aims that a leader had to keep in focus when developing and leading people. They combine to produce effective leadership:

  • getting the job done

  • looking after the team 
  • valuing and developing the individual.

When learning has taken place it is important that staff have the opportunity to practise the new skill and to see its value within the setting. Therefore, linking it to the nursery improvement plan can give everyone a clear understanding of the need for and benefits of the training.

Sometimes, the development need may be less related to practice. It may be to develop staff confidence or self-esteem for example. In this case, an activity such as juggling, abseiling or a pottery session may be a really good way to achieve this and create a good team spirit at the same time.

The role of the line manager

It is also important for a manager to understand how individuals learn best. Some people need to be actively involved in learning and develop best by ‘doing’. Some need to have a clear plan and specific instructions, some need to read first then try the new skill, whilst still others need to carefully reflect on and consider the new skills or task to be acquired before attempting it. A manager’s skill is to choose the right way of developing each person.

What are the benefits of CPD?

Professional Development will have an impact on standards and motivation levels. Staff will feel a sense of achievement when they have acquired new skills and grow in confidence to take more responsibility.

It is also important to understand a person’s capability levels. Far too often, people are promoted to the level of their incompetence rather than challenged within their ability range.

As a manager, staff need to feel that they can communicate their needs and feelings to you openly. To facilitate this, you may like to try using the Blob Tree poster or book as a prompt. These very amusing blob people are on different branches of the tree and are very simply portrayed in various positions that easily identify how they are currently feeling about life and their future. It’s a fun way to start a discussion by asking staff to identify which blob person they think they might be and why!

Psychometric testing for identification of a person’s skills and talents can help to prompt discussion – but take them light heartedly! Whilst they usually are quite accurate, they can be manipulated by a very shrewd employee who wants to tell you what they think you want to know.

For a larger organisation, appointing someone to be responsible for professional development may be possible. This role could be encompassed within an operation manager’s job description and responsibilities as this person will see practice both good and bad and the next natural step is to want to make improvements via training.

Training has many spin-offs and related advantages. With enhanced confidence and enthusiasm, staff are more likely to be innovative and develop new ways of doing things. They are also more likely to ‘see the bigger picture’ and think strategically about the nursery, its services and development.

There are no downsides to professional development and it need not be costly. In my next article, I will look at different training opportunities that can be given to staff – many of them have no financial implications at all but reap big rewards in developing skills.

CPD CHALLENGE

  • Do I develop my staff continuously, sometimes, or never?

  • Do I value CPD enough to budget adequately for ongoing training?

The Blob Tree Poster is available from: Incentive Plus tel: 01908 526120, Poster £16 + VAT, Book £10.00

The John Adair Handbook of Management and Leadership is published by Thorogood Ltd.

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