CASE STUDIES 

A route to improving performance 

Introduction

This public sector organisation is responsible for all highways in a federal republic the size of France and Spain combined.

At the time the assignment was undertaken, the Highways Agency employed some 17,000 permanent personnel and up to 5,000 contract workers depending on the number of contracts.

The General Manager, who reported directly to the deputy Prime Minister, had responsibility for an annual spend of $300 million covering thirteen major highway construction projects, contracted through various international construction contractors and consortia (Chinese, Japanese, South African, Greek-Spanish, British amongst others).

The agency is also responsible for infrastructure development and road maintenance through a number of regional organisations.

The Issue

The country is divided into nine ethnically based states and two self-governing administrations linked by some 34,000 kilometres (21,250 miles) of surfaced and unsurfaced roads. International aid programmes have provided the funding for a number of major road improvement projects.

Each of these projects involved major international construction companies, well versed in these types of programmes and well-rehearsed in planning, mobilisation and contract management.

The Highways Agency, whilst experienced in the handling of its internal roads programme, had limited experience in working in turnkey projects on such a scale. In the early stages of programme inception, priority was not given to land compensation claims, for example, resulting in delays in mobilisation and subsequent claims for compensation.

Similarly, management organisation and information systems were not adequate to handle the size of these projects and budget control and release of stage payments were major issues of concern. Added to this was the complexity of dealing with mult-national differing cultures and practices.

The key issue was, therefore, to provide capacity building assistance in a number of areas, both technical and management, to assist in improving management expertise and effectiveness in handling these major road building programmes.

The starting point for this was the senior management development programme involving the General Manager and his direct reports who were responsible for the key operational and service functions.

Courses taken in this case study

Change is an inevitable part of life. Nothing remains static and the way we respond to change varies from individual to individual. Approximately one half of the population resists it, while the other half welcomes it. This course examines the change management process and the ways in which an understanding of the causes of resistance can be turned to positive advantage.

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This course looks at the step-by-step process of decision making from problem definition to implementation. It highlights the importance of qualitative information in decision judgement and the impact of unstructured decisions. It emphasises that judgement takes a higher priority when the impact of the decision is greater, more complex or the potential risk is higher.

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Time, like capital or human skills, is a resource that has to be managed effectively. It is also a limited resource. This course looks at your ability to manage job objectives, priorities and activities within the available time. Effective time management is critical when time is at a premium and workloads are on the increase. In essence, the aim is to achieve the right things, at the right quality, on time.

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This course examines the ability to plan and control the allocation of work within team members in order to maximise resources. Good delegation is based on clear objectives, regular reviews and solid feedback. It shows how delegation can provide a sound basis on which to improve productivity, engender ownership and responsibility, whilst fostering individual growth and development.

More information about this course
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People are a vital element in any organisation and managing and leading people is criticallyimportant for every manager. This course describes the key people management skills that contribute fully to individual performance improvement and organisational effectiveness.

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.
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Information encompasses every aspect of your job. Throughout the work process you use it, produce it, pass it on and communicate it. This course examines the ability to store and the retrieve the essential information required to carry out your job efficiently.

More information about this course
.
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An interesting aspect of job knowledge is that the majority of people believe they understand their job until they are asked to explain it. This course sets out to examine your professional, specialist or expert knowledge and understanding that are especially required in your job.

More information about this course
.
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A manager can spend 50% of their work time in meetings, of one type or another. This course looks at your ability to plan and control meetings and make effective use of your time. Meetings involve planning, preparation, selection of participants, adherence to issues and time schedules. Meetings involve the maintenance of teamwork, supporting relationships and superior work performance.

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Objective setting is the foundation of good management. Without objectives, you will never be able to focus on achievement, nor manage the various aspects of your work and working relationships. This course covers your ability to think through and define the results you and your team wish to achieve, through an eight-step process, which is constantly subject to change and review.

More information about this course
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Personal organisation seems to have a considerable effect on feelings and moods. You have good and bad days. If you feel well organised, you have a positive sense of well-being and in control. This course looks at your ability to arrange and control all aspects of your work so that it flows smoothly and efficiently. This skill depends upon your inherent drives to control events and circumstances.

More information about this course
.
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Managing priorities often causes a potential source of conflict. The correct work behaviour is summarised as ‘what you do second is equally important to what you do first’. This routine is achieved if time is controlled in terms of priority management. This course looks at your ability to focus on priority of job objectives and conflict between priority of importance and priority of time.

More information about this course
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Each team has a unique  ‘team  personality’ made up from the individuals that form it. It is this aspect that determines how effectively the team works together, the quality of their performance  and what they are capable of achieving. This course looks at how teams work together to achieve team objectives. Effective teams have a common ‘team spirit’ which directly impacts on their results.

More information about this course
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Time, like capital or human skills, is a resource that has to be managed effectively. It is also a limited resource. This course looks at your ability to manage job objectives, priorities and activities within the available time. Effective time management is criticalwhen time is at a premium and workloads are on the increase. In essence, the aim is to achieve the right things, at the right quality, on time.

More information about this course
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Buy now
Transforming leadership involves having a transforming approach to your work and life. Leaders operate from a set of core beliefs about people, that motivates them to perform and engage in the organisation. This transforming improves personal development and the productivity of all involved. This course explores seven key areas to help you become more effective as a leader.

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The Solution

Each member of the senior management team was, technically well qualified with an engineering degree from his or her national university with post-graduate education at a well-recognised European university. So, technical skills were not an area of major concern.

The development audit indicated that there was an urgent need to strengthen management performance in a number of key areas relating to organisation, planning and control as well as a need to address specific issues relating to local work practices and a highly social oriented culture.

The Skillogy PERFORM programme was selected as the management capacity building tool due to it meeting all the development criteria and the fact that the learning and support processes were particular well suited to the challenges of the programme. In this latter regard, the processes had to be particularly effective in changing entrenched attitudes to work and cultural social pressures that often impeded productivity and the ability to meet deadlines.

Fourteen courses were selected covering a two-year management development programme. The courses involved:

SELF performance area (3) focused on personal productivity improvement

  • Personal Organisation
  • Priority Management
  • Time Management

MANAGER performance area (9) focused on process efficiency and output

  • Change Management
  • Decision Judgement
  • Decision Management
  • Delegation Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Information Management
  • Job Knowledge
  • Objective Setting
  • Teamwork

LEADER performance area (2) focused on

  • Meeting Management
  • Transforming Leadership

The Process

The Skillogy approach involves two main processes, one learning-driven and the other support-driven.

The learning-driven elements are integrated within each course and involve a cycle of assessment, knowledge acquisition, application of knowledge through job-focused actions and a review of outcomes.

The other process involves a blended learning approach. By this means the self- managed elements of the programme are balanced by peer group and learning adviser support, ensuring that individuals remain motivated and maintain a pace in accordance with their own developmental needs and that of the programme scheduling. The Learning Adviser is either from Skillogy or trained in-the client organisation.

In the case of this specific programme, the Learning Advisers were from Skillogy and managers were assigned to a learning set comprising 4 or 5 individuals working on the same module. The Learning Adviser supported the group through instructor-led workshops and one-to-one sessions, where required.

Today, on-line delivery access to the programmes is provided through the GO1 Learning Hub. However, in this particular assignment, the specific self-managed element of the programme was delivered on CD-ROM, owing to poor connectivity to the Internet .

The instructor-led elements involved one-day workshops covering launch and familiarisation at the outset of the programme, course introductions and review workshops at six-weekly intervals.

[Today, our online support is facilitated through the use of Zoom)

Crucial to the success of this and any other programme is how each individual interprets the knowledge gained from the course and applies this to their working environment.

Each course is divided into a number of tutorials aimed at providing relevant and practical knowledge to the individual who then develops job-based action plans specific to their needs and job responsibilities. By this means the learning issues address the needs of each member of the learning set who then exchange their views, ideas and progress in a mutually supportive environment. The Learning Adviser is both a facilitator and a coach in this process.

The presentation of the course is designed in a way that addresses individual learning styles and also aids learning retention. This is achieved through animations designed to link the subject matter to visual learning in an interactive and engaging style. Additional learning resources are provided via the learning management system, relevant to the subject area or customised to the particular programme.

Measurement of outcomes is achieved through discussion at the review stage as well as through the use of a five-stage analytics and metrics process integrated within the learning management system.

The Outcomes

Within this environment the scope for improvement was considerable. However, set against this was a culture that was strongly independent, adapting its approach to work based on a socially driven culture as opposed to results-driven.

This approach was completely opposite to the well-structured, contract-driven and result orientated focus of the main contractors that the highways agency were ‘managing’.

This presented a particularly difficult test for the programme and highlighted the importance of performance skills as a means of changing behaviour, attitudes and achieving measurable results for managers.

A fundamental issue that proved important in providing the catalyst for change were the significant compensation awards being made against the agency by the International Arbitration Court. This provided a degree of urgency and impetus within the programme and allowed the courses to be contextualised in illustrating potential areas for change and improvement. In essence, the courses and the action points contained within each tutorial acted as a catalyst for seeking improvements to management practice and performance.

This became a major measurement in gauging management performance. During the initial two-year period of the programme a 50% reduction in claims against the highways agency was achieved resulting in a saving in excess of $1 million. During the subsequent two-year period up to 2004 this had been reduced to 20%.

So, how was this achieved?

Firstly, it is important to note that the problems had little to do with technical skills. There were no real technical issues, other than to demonstrate, as part of other areas of the capacity building, the latest techniques in road-side drainage, kerbs, road surfacing, bridge construction and so forth, designed to improve specification standards within the tender bid process, for example.

The problems related to how to improve management performance. The answers lay in the underlying inefficiencies that caused the large claims, against the highways agency, in the first place; issues such as:

  • delays in negotiating land compensation claims
  • delays in access to sites for mobilisation
  • poor organisation of the tender process and analysis of needs
  • inadequate information management
  • unclear roles and responsibilities
  • low levels of productivity
  • constant interruptions by contractor personnel
  • little or no objective setting
  • ineffective delegation
  • time wasting, particular through unscheduled meetings
  • poor communication internally and externally
  • no prioritisation of tasks
  • bad time management
  • no understanding of personal organisation
  • an absence of effective teamwork

Against this background it was not difficult to identify the relevance of the Skillogy PERFORM courses and their potential impact in improving performance.

Significant results were achieved at a personal productivity level through a better understanding of job knowledge, improved personal organisation and time management, especially where social expediency had been seen as a priority over work objectives.

A measure of individual productivity improvement indicated an average gain approaching 60%. The data was captured through task analysis, analysis of time logs and changes in work practice (taken as pre and post work assessments).

Teamwork was another area of major improvement due to better delegation management and priority management combining to improve work output and achieve deadlines. There was a considerable improvement in team motivation and a reduction in absenteeism of 75%.

The tender process was significantly improved through clearer specifications and instructions, better planning and control, proper scheduling, analysis and  comparisons combined with more effective procedures for financial analysis and reporting.

Improvements were recognised in the decision management through a better understanding of the process and improvements in the quality and timing of information management.

Business planning was improved through clearer objective setting. The role of senior managers was clarified with a strong focus on transforming leadership and change management.

The meetings culture was radically overhauled with improvements in planning, organisation and control of meetings. Numbers, both in terms of meetings and attendees were significantly reduced as was the tendency for ‘snap meetings’. This resulted in considerable savings in time through better meetings management (100 hours of management time per week).

Skillogy PERFORM™ Soft Skills  Training Courses By Performance Area

 SELF

Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to manage oneself and one’s relationships with others in a mature and constructive manner. Research indicates that EI is closely related to workplace success at all levels of the organisation. In this course we look at six key aspects of EI in order to help develop your skills and abilities in managing yourself and your relationships in the workplace.

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Estimates show that some 70% of your work time is spent in some aspect of communication. With so much practice and experience, it would appear that we are all experts, but that is not the case. This course looks at your ability to reach a shared or common understanding with another person and how you apply your verbal and written abilities as well as your capacity to listen and understand.

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What you achieve at work is dependent on the contributions you make to your team. This is the sum of the skills that you willingly give to others or you add towards a common goal or result. This course looks at the key areas of contribution that you are required to make in order to achieve team objectives and results.

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Personal organisation seems to have a considerable effect on feelings and moods. You have good and bad days. If you feel well organised, you have a positive sense of well-being and in control. This course looks at your ability to arrange and control all aspects of your work so that it flows smoothly and efficiently. This skill depends upon your inherent drives to control events and circumstances.

More information about this course
.
Buy now
Managing priorities often causes a potential source of conflict. The correct work behaviour is summarised as ‘what you do second is equally important to what you do first’. This routine is achieved if time is controlled in terms of priority management. This course looks at your ability to focus on priority of job objectives and conflict between priority of importance and priority of time.

More information about this course
..
Buy now
Work stress has been described as the ‘wear and tear’ caused by your working life. In recent times, stress at work has seen a rapidly rising trend. This course looks at your ability to avoid work stress and to control and manage it. Excessive and continuous work stress problems stem from excessive workloads and impractical deadlines, relationships with colleagues and future job insecurity.

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Your ability to think is probably your greatest asset at work.  Everything  you say and do will be touched by what is going on in your mind. Performance and achievements are a direct function of your thinking abilities. This course looks at mental agility, conceptual and analytical thinking, in allowing you to conceive and form ideas, in a practical sense and draw the right conclusions.

More information about this course
.
Buy now
Time, like capital or human skills, is a resource that has to be managed effectively. It is also a limited resource. This course looks at your ability to manage job objectives, priorities and activities within the available time. Effective time management is criticalwhen time is at a premium and workloads are on the increase. In essence, the aim is to achieve the right things, at the right quality, on time.

More information about this course
.
Buy now
Wellness is not a new concept. The ancient Greeks believed that a truly healthy person possessed a keen intellect, a well-developed will and a disciplined body. Their ideal of excellence of any kind, was considered a noble state of human functioning, representing the merging of body, mind and spirit. This course focuses on making you aware of and making choices towards a more successful life.

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Your work personality brings together all those parts of you that have an influence on your performance at work. This course examines those qualities of your personality that you consistently demonstrate in your work and by which you become known by your colleagues. The main issue is whether you possess and use those positive qualities normally associated with good performance.

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MANAGER

Change is an inevitable part of life. Nothing remains static and the way we respond to change varies from individual to individual. Approximately one half of the population resists it, while the other half welcomes it. This course examines the change management process and the ways in which an understanding of the causes of resistance can be turned to positive advantage.

More information about this course
.
Buy Now
This course looks at the step-by-step process of decision making from problem definition to implementation. It highlights the importance of qualitative information in decision judgement and the impact of unstructured decisions. It emphasises that judgement takes a higher priority when the impact of the decision is greater, more complex or the potential risk is higher.

More information about this course
.
Buy now
Time, like capital or human skills, is a resource that has to be managed effectively. It is also a limited resource. This course looks at your ability to manage job objectives, priorities and activities within the available time. Effective time management is critical when time is at a premium and workloads are on the increase. In essence, the aim is to achieve the right things, at the right quality, on time.

More information about this course
.
Buy now
This course examines the ability to plan and control the allocation of work within team members in order to maximise resources. Good delegation is based on clear objectives, regular reviews and solid feedback. It shows how delegation can provide a sound basis on which to improve productivity, engender ownership and responsibility, whilst fostering individual growth and development.

More information about this course
.
Buy now
People are a vital element in any organisation and managing and leading people is criticallyimportant for every manager. This course describes the key people management skills that contribute fully to individual performance improvement and organisational effectiveness.

More information about this course
.
Buy now
Information encompasses every aspect of your job. Throughout the work process you use it, produce it, pass it on and communicate it. This course examines the ability to store and the retrieve the essential information required to carry out your job efficiently.

More information about this course
.
Buy now
An interesting aspect of job knowledge is that the majority of people believe they understand their job until they are asked to explain it. This course sets out to examine your professional, specialist or expert knowledge and understanding that are especially required in your job.

More information about this course
.
Buy now
Objective setting is the foundation of good management. Without objectives, you will never be able to focus on achievement, nor manage the various aspects of your work and working relationships. This course covers your ability to think through and define the results you and your team wish to achieve, through an eight-step process, which is constantly subject to change and review.

More information about this course
.
Buy now
Project Management is a combination of steps and techniques for keeping the budget and schedule in line. This course follows the five stages of the project cycle, which provides a clear process and system for project tracking. A successful project manager demonstrates team building skills and develops a thorough knowledge of the team’s strengths and the project’s needs.

More information about this course
.
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Each team has a unique  ‘team  personality’ made up from the individuals that form it. It is this aspect that determines how effectively the team works together, the quality of their performance  and what they are capable of achieving. This course looks at how teams work together to achieve team objectives. Effective teams have a common ‘team spirit’ which directly impacts on their results.

More information about this course
.
Buy now

LEADER

Management is about finding creative solutions to problems and identifying the appropriate course of action. Creativity and originality explores the power of the mind, in bringing things into being, from original thought or basic concepts. This course sets out to show how the power of imagination can build on original thoughts to create solutions and plans, which contribute to work performance.

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Ethical leadership involves the way that managers and leaders carry out their decision-making in terms of moral issues and choices. This course examines the role of the ethical leader and the influence that he or she can exert in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and improving an organisation’s ethical climate.

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Innovation is a special and highly regarded ability in people at work. The organisations that are the most successful at innovation, will gain leadership in their market. This course focuses on the role of the corporate innovator, in larger scale project development and highlights the importance of building innovative teams, in order to maintain a competitive edge.

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A manager can spend 50% of their work time in meetings, of one type or another. This course looks at your ability to plan and control meetings and make effective use of your time. Meetings involve planning, preparation, selection of participants, adherence to issues and time schedules. Meetings involve the maintenance of teamwork, supporting relationships and superior work performance.

More information about this course
.
Buy now
Leaders and managers will not be effective, if they do not understand the theories and practices of motivation. What you believe about people, affects the way your team reacts to you and your leadership. This course looks at the inherent needs of people and how to improve productivity and motivate a workforce. The level of motivation displayed by a team reflects the skills of the leader.

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In achieving optimum performance and long-term success, all organisations have to respond and adapt. Similarly, all jobs are conditioned by plans that require change. This course addresses your ability to have the knowledge and understanding of your organisation’s objectives, strategies, plans and the external environment in relation to political, social, financial and market competitive forces.

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Personal character is the sum of your moral and ethical qualities. It is these same qualities that provide the foundation for your working relationships. This course helps you to reflect on your work behaviour and integrity. Without this, it is impossible to lead and manage a team with any degree of success. Nor is it possible to survive in an organisation, which is not dedicated to ethical standards.

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Much of what you achieve depends on your ability to persuade other people. In many respects, persuasion is the highest form of communication. This course looks at the ability of persuasion and negotiation, in producing successful outcomes and moving towards a convergence of opinion and understanding. Negotiation depends on your attitudes in approach and devoting time to planning.

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Managers and leaders use power every day. Using power effectively, is an important skill and by developing influencing techniques, can lead to increased team effectiveness. This course describes the sources of power and strategies and assesses your abilities in line with these. Power contributes to organisational goals, respect human rights and conform to standards of equality and justice.

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Transforming leadership involves having a transforming approach to your work and life. Leaders operate from a set of core beliefs about people, that motivates them to perform and engage in the organisation. This transforming improves personal development and the productivity of all involved. This course explores seven key areas to help you become more effective as a leader.

More information about this course
.
Buy now