Improving organisational life

By Dr Karen Borgelt, Manager of People and Performance Gladstone Regional Council.

Over the last eighteen months learning and development at Gladstone Regional Council in Queensland has undergone a change in its approach and delivery to a point where it now forms a greater part of the warp and weft of our organisational life.

Our journey began with the rewriting of more than 650 Position Descriptions (PDs) to more accurately and consistently reflect work being done here at Council. As part of the new PD format, role responsibilities were classified under the headings of mandatory and non- mandatory for the ‘technical’ aspects of a role and organisational related responsibilities under headings such as ‘team leader’, ‘co-ordinator’, ‘supervisor’ and ‘manager’. The content of the PDs then allowed us to identify and classify training and development under each of these same headings. Mandatory training courses now link seamlessly with the mandatory components of PDs as do non-mandatory and organisational courses with their respective PD counterparts.

At the same time our Learning and Development section underwent a restructure. Our team now consists of three specialists and an admin support. One looks after orientation and on boarding so as to allow recruits a smooth transition into permanent employment. This same advisor also works with our apprentices, trainees, graduate students, their supervisors and educators to ensure successful graduations. Another advisor is responsible for all mandatory training while a third looks after non-mandatory training, development and our e-learning course development and delivery.

Our e-learning library now consists of 180 modified (ELMO) courses which provide a cheaper and uniformly consistent form of training for those courses which do not require face-to-face delivery. They cover a diverse range of topics from Traffic Management Level 1, introduction to Working at Heights and Confined Spaces to Purchasing, Customer Service and how to use Microsoft, ECM and Aurion products. Added to this has been the development of some 80 videos produced in-house to support this learning. While course room training and conference attendance still occur, this is reserved for the more complex learnings.

As a result of taking this approach, learning has become more relevant to the work that our staff does while the courses are more cost-effective and predictive come budget time.

Because training and development is intimately connected to PDs, they also form linkages to performance appraisals, performance management, corrective actions and investigations.

While still in the early days we expect these along with several other initiatives currently in development to go a long way in developing Gladstone Regional Council as a knowledge organisation and thereby improving productivity, minimising risk and supporting safety and governance across Council.