Debate at Unions 21 events is increasingly noting that asa movement we need to develop and share best practicein the way we internally manage ourselves. In orderto deliver the best or our members we need to runeective organisations and manage our employees well.This article explains how one union, ATL, has invested inthe development o proessional sta.
ATL is a member-led democratic organisation that recognisesthe importance o managing proessional sta proessionally.It is the Human Resources sub-committee o the NationalExecutive that oversees the HR Strategy and the annualplans which detail what is to be delivered during that period. The Executive operates with respect or the dierencebetween governance and management so having set theHR strategy, policies and plans, leaves it to the managersunder the direction o the General Secretary to manage theorganisation. The HR strategy and plans cover every aspect o HRmanagement including learning & development. As a unionthat now has a dedicated Learning & Development teamworking with and growing a network o well over 100 ULRsit would be hypocritical i we didn’t take the developmento our own employees seriously. To demonstrate itscommitment to the value o continuing proessionaldevelopment or all employees, ATL signicantly increased itssta training budget rom 2006.ATL believes in the benets o diversity and this means theirteam comes rom a range o backgrounds o public, privateand not-or-prot sectors and with very dierent mixtureso experience in the education sector, trade union activismand unctional expertise (Casework, Policy Research, Finance,Communications, Organising, IT etc). They also do dierent jobs, some are active in classic trade union activities such ascasework, negotiations, organising and policy development,but others are accountants, IT specialists, secretaries,acilities managers, etc. ATL values them all and the dierentperspectives they bring and, with such diversity, a widerange o learning and development needs to be addressed.ATL recognises that there are three main types o development needs to be met:
In the last year they provided training on the basics o why“Organising” is so important or ATL as a growing union toevery one o their 140 employees. This year, they’ve alreadyrun diversity training or all line managers as part o theleadership development programme and later this year willbe delivering diversity awareness training or all employees.
ATL wants to be the best trade union it can be and to do thisencourage and support everybody to be the best at theirunctional skills. For example, Nicki Landau, Head o HumanResources at ATL has earned her Fellowship o the CharteredInstitute o Personnel & Development (FCIPD) and become acertied master practitioner in neuro-linguistic programming(NLP). Both these developments were supported by ATL.Similarly, numerous colleagues at all levels are developingunctional expertise appropriate to their jobs. Many, thoughnot all o which, include qualications or membershipo proessional bodies. Among these they include ATL’sOrganising team who are ollowing the TUC OrganisingAcademy training programme.
Since 2006 ATL has had a leadership developmentprogramme or all line managers and potential linemanagers. It has also included senior people on every intakeo the TUC’s “Leading Change” programme. ATL wantseverybody to be IT literate and ensures the development o general IT skills through an external provider while oeringtailored IT training internally on major systems such as themembership and casework systems. In the near uturethey will be developing structured project managementcompetency or those sta who require it. The main way in which ATL has identied and prioritisedtraining needs is encouraging good general management.Regular 1-2-1 sessions between individual and line manager,together with an annual appraisal system introduced in2006, allow individuals to discuss their development needsand enable managers to eed these to HR so that generaland individual development activities can be planned.Certainly ATL want the best rom employees in their currentroles but members genuinely want their employees toprosper in their longer careers too. That is why learningand development extends beyond skills and competenciesor current jobs. ATL is as keen to support those who wishto transer laterally within ATL and have been pleased topromote various colleagues into higher level roles whenvacancies have arisen. However, as a small to medium sizedorganisation o 140 employees ATL accepts that they will notbe able to oer internal career advancement to everyone. That’s partly why ATL display vacancies within other unionsand encourage ATL people to consider other unions as theirnext employer whenever they eel ready to move so that thetalent developed by ATL will continue to add value to thetrade union movement.
Currently ATL are very interested in exploring the possibilityo secondments between unions, to help individuals developthemselves. So Nicki Landau would be pleased to hear romother unions that either have people who might benet rom asecondment at ATL or who have a temporary vacancy that anATL person might ll. To contact Nicki e-mail email@example.com
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