In May 2001, I returned to work full-time following maternity leave after the birth of my son. As Training Manager for 123 Ltd, I was responsible for the training and development needs of 250 employees in addition to the supervision of my own team of four Training Officers. Also, as part of the general management team I was attending weekly meetings to review and discuss organisational requirements. Whilst confident in my ability both as a trainer and organiser, I was concerned with improving the weaker areas of my management skills, widening my knowledge base and gaining further responsibility.
The Fellowship programme appealed to me because of its flexibility to fit in not only with my career progression but also the demands of raising a family.
When completing my Fellowship plan, I had expected my NVQ Level 3 in Training and Development qualification would be sufficient to meet the criteria of a major achievement. As a result, my objectives set to reach Fellowship status were targeted quite aggressively, from enrolment in February 2002 to expected application to election in November 2002. It was a disappointment to me that this qualification was not set at the correct level, however, I seized the opportunity to progress to NVQ Level 4 in Training and Development once the CII had confirmed that this would be acceptable as my major achievement.
My Fellowship plan was formulated on the basis that attainment of FCII status would demonstrate my commitment to continuing professional development and further develop my management skills.
I was assisted in the pursuit of my goals with the formation of a Quality Assurance Department at Head Office and the agreement that the training area would similarly expand. At the beginning of 2002, I became responsible for managing the branch audit programme and an Audit Officer was appointed to form part of the team under my direct control. In November 2002, my responsibilities increased again with the expansion of my team to include a Customer Service Controller dealing with Lloyd's and Chief Executive complaints. My management role now included all aspects of quality assurance within the department. I have learned to co-ordinate these separate, yet interrelated, activities with each other to achieve the best result for the company. In this way, my Fellowship plan assisted in matching my personal objectives with those of my employer.
Changes to Fellowship plan
Completion of the NVQ Level 4 in Training and Development had the effect of delaying the achievement of my objectives laid down in my Fellowship plan by around six months. This turned out to be an excellent opportunity as the higher level NVQ was much more suited to developing my management skills. I enjoyed the challenge of demonstrating competence within the management of training and completed six additional units. Of particular interest and practical use were the modules on evaluating and improving training and development programmes, which led me to implement an ongoing review of existing training material.
Self learning and awareness
With hindsight, the delay in completing my Fellowship objectives proved fortunate. It highlighted that I should lead by example in terms of commitment to continuing professional development and not become complacent. In addition, I was undertaking the Business Ethics Programme at a time when the company introduced business process re-engineering which increased my understanding of this philosophy.
The completion of all aspects of my Fellowship plan has provided significant opportunities for development both personally and professionally. I consider that the most important development areas were those which enabled me to improve my management skills. Attainment of the NVQ Level 4 in Training and Development and completion of the Business Ethics Programme were of particular benefit.
I hadn't expected the Business Ethics Programme to have such an impact on my daily role but it has been instrumental in my thinking and fundamental in my understanding of the wider business issues. The lessons learned were particularly relevant when I participated in a business process re-engineering project. This involved reviewing the job roles of all supervisory levels within the claims organisation. To obtain accurate statistics, it was necessary to handle personally a supervisory workload and I was able to draw on my experience as a supervisor, as well as my training and audit knowledge. The end result was the creation of two new job roles at supervisory level and a revised organisational structure, which was implemented across all sites of 123 Ltd.
Following on from this, I produced a training programme. My awareness of the need for change and benefits to be gained was reflected in the message imparted within the course. I will evaluate the effectiveness of the training and consider any areas that could be improved as part of my involvement in the post-implementation review.
Key skills and knowledge acquired
I feel that in achieving my Fellowship plan objectives I have learned to use new knowledge and skills to their best advantage for both the company and myself. Most of all, I have improved my knowledge of considerations affecting the company outside my own team and department. Involvement in the wider business issues has enabled me to become a more effective manager with greater insight into the objectives sought by the company.
The completion of my CPD records inspired me to hold a Chartered Insurer title and continue with the ongoing maintenance of my CPD records.
The Business Ethics Programme has helped reinforce my own views of ethical decisions, particularly when faced with staff issues ranging from poor performance and unsuitable trainees to recruitment and the pay review. Equally, I am always looking to improve the productivity and performance of all employees through the implementation and review of effective training and development programmes.
Intentions for the future
I take great pride in my work and I wish to continue to be challenged to progress within the Insurance industry. Having achieved my goal of a management position and widened my responsibilities within that role, I feel I have more to offer at a higher management level again. It remains to be seen whether or not this can be accommodated at 123 Ltd.
I am anxious not to become complacent with my achievements to date. This has led me to enrol on a BSc (Hons) in Financial Services degree programme. In this way, I intend to carry on with my Fellowship plan objectives in terms of demonstrating commitment to continuing professional development and further developing my management skills.