Education

Empowering your people to do the right things right

empowerment

Empowering your people to do the right things right

Don’t we all want our colleges to do the right things right? Well you would think so, but sometimes our behaviours don’t allow them to do so. Have a look at the Paradigm below it identifies four distinct areas that people will fall into at work and there are associated dangers and benefits to each area, along with organisational effectiveness, performance, skills development and team work.

In previous blogs we have looked at the whole concept of Attitudes and Behaviours. click here to see

In this context we are going to call them different things. Attitude, the stuff inside you, personal to you and your journey through life, can represent your prejudice. When you prejudge things adversely it can be problematical. It is very hard to see someone’s prejudice unless they drop their guard and let you see it through their behaviour. It then cease to be prejudice and becomes alive via discrimination.

So in this context Attitude = Prejudice and Behaviour = Discrimination

Area 1 – People with prejudice that allow it into discrimination at work

Empowering Prejudice

Where is the place for people that do this in your business? The obvious answer is out of the business, if colleagues come to work believing bad things and acting on them, they must surely fall foul of a vast array of policies and procedures. However many just get away with it because they have always been like it!

Not an empowering environment for creative, innovative working….. Empowering your staff requires every policy and procedure to be robustly applied to everyone.

Area 2 – People with absolutely no prejudice who never act in a way that might discriminate

Empowering No prejudice

Now we would all love to have workforces like this! Most of us bounce in to this area on occasions, but its a really difficult place to live in. NEVER having any negative thoughts, NEVER acting on them in anyway. This is the domain of saints and babies!  A delegate once suggested that this is an are solely for “the dead”, they can’t have prejudice and never discriminate.

A great place to aim for, resulting in the demise of every HR department, harmony at work…….

Area 3 – People have no prejudice, but their behaviour is discriminatory

Empowering bad behaviourHow can this happen? How can someone not feel the prejudice but behave in ways that discriminate? this falls into several subsections

1 The ignorant. These workers have no idea that their behaviour is inappropriate, but as no one has ever held them to task for their behaviour they just carry on doing it. The colleague who uses bad language as a matter of course, without realising its impact on those around, those that they would never want to offend or upset. But do.

Empowering your staff means dealing with these openly, frankly and honestly. The conversations might be unwelcome, make the individual feel uncomfortable, BUT they are necessary and warranted

 2 The blind eye. Where workers turn a blind eye to things that are going on, because they would be difficult or embarrassing to tackle. The manager that sees sloppy behaviour towards a customer and lets it go. Thus setting the standard for every subsequent customer interaction because “he saw it and said nothing……”

Empowering your staff requires standards to be set by managers and gives staff the permission to insist on appropriate behaviours, knowing they will be supported.

3 The Avoider. This individual knows that something is going on that shouldn’t be, but doesn’t have the tools to deal with the situation so they make sure they are never present when problems could occur. Supervisors roster conflicting colleagues together on a night shift, knowing that they will be on the day shift…. Not my problem then!

4 Joining in. The most difficult of the 4. Why would someone join in with behaviour when they KNOW its wrong? there are six simple answers, all of which revolve around fear. Fear of Position, Personality, Threats, Expertise, Social standing and Moral high ground.  Click here for our blog on power.

Empowering your staff means being very aware of the political dynamics at work, insisting on fair play, assassinating banter, keeping a finger on the pulse of the work place. Making sure it stays healthy.

Area 4 – People who come to work with prejudice, but don’t allow their behaviour to be discriminatory.

No Discrimination

 

Recognise anyone?  I certainly fit this area most of the time. I am able to choose my behaviours, I am responsible for them.

Empowering your staff means supporting good behaviours by acknowledging them, recognising them, celebrating them. When these things happens it is possible to start to erode the preconceptions and help colleagues dwell for longer in Area 2.

 

At PDP we help business’ and individuals look at their behaviours and the behaviours of those around them. We do this via training, coaching, mentoring and up-skilling.

Get in touch by email with Richard or Paula

By following Richard or Paula on Twitter

By giving us a call on 08712 349 873. We would love to by you a coffee…

 

 

Customer Service – What your team need to know

customer service

Customer Service – What your team need to know

Having just spent a brilliant day with London’s newest train operator MTR Crossrail we thought that it would be good to share some insight into excellent customer service. You may be aware that we worked really hard in the run up to London 2012 with the London Ambassadors, staff at City Hall and the service personnel who did such a great job securing the Olympic and Paralympic games. We were involved with training, coaching, consulting and monitoring performance.

Top Tips for effective customer service

Understand what the term “customer” means. Many business’ don’t.

DefinitionA customer is someone who receives something we provide, either a product or a service or information.

You will note here there is no mention of payment! Most operational employees of organisations rapidly identify where the “money” comes from, but fail to see the frequent “internal” customer and supplier chains. These chains are the ones which ensure the external customer gets great service. They also help ensure the business is there for the long term, which is great for job security..

It would be daft to say that every customer is the same, because we are all unique, different individuals. However we can identify similarities in customers that will lead to particular customer service outcomes.

Elective Customers

These are the people that recognise they have a choice for the provision of goods, services and information. They have the ability to move from supplier to supplier as a better deals or products come to the market. They are not Elective customertied in to the supplier. Organisations really fight hard to keep these customers by offering all kinds of loyalty bonus’, reward cards and incentives to attract customers back. When you genuinely have a choice would you put up with crappy products and services? Neither would we, so we go to the competition. So organisations really want to impress the Elective customers…. and do so by encouraging excellent customer service.

Captive Customers

There are a vast array of business’ that have captive customers. Look at your phone. Did you get swayed by the Captive Customershiny latest model and then sign away a 24 month contract to someone who knows it will cost you money to get out of their contract. The more complacent of these firms offer “new customer only” deals, which are far better than yours… If you are a captive and happy customer then well done to you and the supplier. The reality is that many of these business’ know you are captive and get complacent, until month 22…. when you start to become elective again and get better customer service.

Unwilling customers

Why would anyone be an unwilling customer? It doesn’t make sense! Well every time there is a bank holiday in the town we live in the refuse collection gets varied by a day or so. Every time that happens our rubbish isn’t collected, Unwilling customersso we have bins full of household waste that sits for … well… The service supplier that takes our bin has a two week cycle, week 1 rubbish, week 2 recycling. Not a service level agreement we wanted, but that’s it! So when a failure happens on August 28th the next time the bin gets taken is September 11. Can you imagine what the sardines we didn’t quite finish on the 14th of August are like now? BUT we have no choice in that supplier, and they know it, and they don’t care until their contract is up for renewal in 5 years…… so much for customer service.

Non Users

How can someone be a customer without using a product, service or information? In the UK cash is moved from Non Userbanks and shops to cash centres and then back to banks and shops. It is done by several companies, but the largest is G4S Cash Solutions Ltd. They protect their employees well with good vehicles, body armour and training, making it very difficult for “baddies” to steal from them. Fewer thefts mean that insurance premiums stay low, so when we go to insure our homes, lives etc the premiums are lower because of G4S! Even though we don’t use their products.

If it was your business…

We always try to deliver customer service that recognises our customers as elective, it keeps us focussed, ensures we pay attention to detail, makes us really listen to our customers. If you would like to find out more about the training, coaching and development work that we do please contact:

Richard by Email or twitter

Paula by Email or Twitter

or call us on 08712 349 873

Prejudice and discrimination in the work place

prejudice and discrimination at work

Prejudice and discrimination in the workplace

When dealing with managers on various training events it’s rare to come across someone who would fall foul of the 2010 Equalities Act. The Act sets out 9 protected characteristics and various ways in which some or all of the characteristics can be abused.

The nine Protected characteristics are;

• Age
• Disability
• Gender Reassignment
• Race
• Religion or Belief
• Sex
• Sexual Orientation
• Marriage and Civil Partnership
• Pregnancy and Maternity
To most of us these protected characteristics are factors which should play no part in treating others unfairly, they are not relevant in work based behaviours and choices. To be clear; your age should have no bearing on your abilities in the work place.

These protected characteristics can be abused in the following ways

1 Direct Discrimination.
When someone treats an individual unfairly because of a protected characteristic.
“Don’t employ Hindus because……. I don’t like them”
2 Associative Discrimination
When someone treats and individual unfairly because they are linked to someone with a protected characteristic.
“ I won’t employ him because he has a disabled wife and that will mean he takes time off for her care”
3 Discrimination by Perception
When an individual is treated unfairly because someone thinks they are linked to a protected characteristic.
“ She looks like she’s too young to meet customers”
4 Indirect Discrimination
Stipulating a particular rule or process, which might sound reasonable but discriminates.
“Male Police officers must be 6ft 1 tall, there by making sure that the majority of British Sri Lankans who may not get to be 6ft, cannot become Police Officers.”
5 Harassment
Employees can now claim offensive behaviour, even if it isn’t directed at them to be harassment. The important aspect of this is the impact of the behaviour on the recipient NOT the intention of the Harasser.
6 Harassment by a third party
Where an employer allows its employees to face harassment by someone else.
“a courier is subjected to sexist comments by a customer, but the employer keeps sending them back into the same business”
7 Victimisation
Not quite the dictionary definition of victimisation. This is where an individual is treated differently and unfairly because of a course of action they have taken, or because of their support for an individual that has taken a particular course of action.
“ An employee supports a friend in making a grievance and is then side-lined for promotion.

Not all the protected characteristics are protected entirely (See the ACAS TABLE)

In most work places

What we do come across often is that individuals don’t think about their feelings and the outcomes. They don’t think about their attitudes which can drive their behaviours, their prejudices which can drive inappropriate discrimination.
There are four outcomes forming this paradigm

Prejudice and discrimination

Fred comes to work with a strong race prejudice and then makes racist comments.
Outcome. Fred should be disciplined and probably sacked

No Prejudice and Never discriminates

Who on earth is that? Saints, Babies…. I have never met someone in this area, although every business I have ever been in seems to expect it….

No Prejudice but discriminatory behaviour

How can that be? Fred never has a malicious though, but his behaviour is discriminatory. This is the grave yard for managers old and new. How can someone do this?
1 Ignorance – they just don’t know what they are doing
2 Ignoring – they see something happening, but take a back seat rather than dealing with it. ( a suicidal management strategy)
3 Avoidance – They deliberately manipulate situations to not be present when problem might occur. Fred and Julie are always arguing at work, rather than deal with it their manager rosters fred and Juile on a shift pattern he isn’t on
4 To join in – because the behaviours that aren’t desirable are being demonstrated by someone with POWER (click for the blog on power) , rather than Challenge they go along with it

Prejudice but no discriminatory behaviour

Thinking and feeling something, but not allowing others to see that in your behaviour. Which accounts for the majority of us!

 

Interested ? Why not give Richard or Paula a call?
Email Richard or Paula
Tweet Richard or Paula
We would love to talk to you and your colleagues about brilliant work place behaviours. #how2PDP

Change – Make it happen using Kotter’s 8 stage model

Kotter's 8 stage model

Change – Make it happen using Kotter’s 8 stage model

In our last blog we explored the things that need to happen before you try to apply this really useful model. We looked at the importance and skills of objective setting, the application of PESTLE to clarify your thinking. Click here to see that blog.

Once you have that vision and have applied the PESTLE analysis to it, you can progress to using Kotter’s 8 stage model.

1 Create a sense of urgency

Create a sense of urgencyIdentify Market and competitive realities
Identify and discuss crisis, potential crisis and major opportunities

Often this is where leaders will miss the opportunity to “Aim for the Heart”, they rely on the application of pure logic to convince people. Leaders that connect with people’s values are much more likely to be successful. We can use crisis as an opportunity maximiser here. “We must react and react quickly”, inaction can be fatal.

 

 

 2 Build a guiding team

Change PowerAssemble a group with enough power and influence to lead the change effort
Encourage the group to work as a team and develop team work

How many business’ assemble a team of people without the passion, power or influence to make things happen. The idea is probably a sound one but other people’s power will kill it off. We really need to have people on board with both high levels of power and positive attitudes,  YOUR ALLIES.(Click here to see our blog on Influencing)

 

 3 Develop a change vision

Develop a change visionCreate a vision to help direct the change effort
Develop strategies for achieving that vision

 The vision must be:
· Imaginable: They convey a clear picture of what the future will look like.
· Desirable: They appeal to the long-term interest of employees, customers, shareholders and others who have a stake in the enterprise. They help with motivation.
· Feasible: They contain realistic and attainable goals.
· Focused: They are clear enough to provide guidance in decision making.
· Flexible: They allow individual initiative and alternative responses in light of changing conditions.
· Communicable: They are easy to communicate with confidence and can be explained quickly

 

 

4 Communicate the vision buy in

Vehicle to communicateUse every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies
Teach new behaviours by example

 communicating the vison is simple when it is;
· Simple: No techno babble or jargon.
· Vivid: A verbal picture is worth a thousand words – use metaphor, analogy and example.
· Repeatable: Ideas should be able to spread by anyone to anyone.
· Invitational: Two-way communication is always more powerful than one-way communication.

 Vision 1

We hope to reduce our lead time with products and services so that we are able to facilitate the needs of our customers, employees and suppliers making their objectives central to the vision of our business resulting in synergies for everyone.

OR…………

Vision 2

We will be faster and more accurate than anyone else – satisfying stakeholders needs.

Which one can you repeat? which one resonates? Simple! So don’t over complicate the vision.

5 Empower broad based action

Empower actionRemove obstacles to change
Change systems or structures that undermine the vision
Encourage risk taking, innovation, non-traditional ideas and actions

 You will need to deal with the lower level managers that keep on saying “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it”. They need to be very clear that we are going forward and that they need to be “on the bus.”

 

 

6 Create short term wins

 

create short term winsPlan for visible performance improvements
Create those improvements
Recognise and reward employees in the improvements

This is about deliberately creating some short term wins, about celebrating their effect. At this stage we need to be really high on planning and really low on praying!

 

 

7 Don’t let up

 

Don't Let UpUse increased credibility to change systems, structures and policy that don’t fit the vision
Hire, promote and develop “champions”
Re-invigorate the process with new projects, themes and change agents.

As the momentum is with you this is where the transformational leader uses the momentum to create even more change.

 

 

8 Make the change stick

 

Make it stickArticulate the connections between organisational success and the new behaviours
Develop the means to ensure leadership development and succession.

This is where we can identify the cultural change by reinforcing new values, by appointing people to the business who share those values. In this last stage we must make sure that the change is celebrated and communicated.

 

 

At PDP we are passionate about your business, your change and your views, please leave us some feedback about this blog via the comments box below……

Or contact us by email Richard or Paula

Or follow us on Twitter Richard or Paula

Or call us on 08712 349 873

We are here to help, lets get together over a coffee?

Time for Change? PESTLE – a tool to make your change happen

PESTLE

 

Time for Change? Practical things to make change happen.

Many organisations that we are associated with are really up for change, they understand the necessity for change, the opportunity for innovation, efficiency savings, team work and even re-organisation. Frequently change fails within business for some simple, straight forward, avoidable reasons. Let’s have a look at some of these pitfalls so that you and your business might be aware and avoid them.

We really like the work done by Kotter, his 8 stage change model is really useful, but needs some preparation.  (We will refer to his work in a future blog)

There are some fundamentals that we need to address if change is going to happen and they are frequently ignored. The first, having an objective, is highlighted in the clip below.

What is the change that we need to implement and why does this need to happen?

Well you are the expert in your business! but the following is a really useful model to use so that you can start to think about the pros and cons of any change once the objective has been formed. This model uses six separate areas of reflection that can then be divided between positive outcomes and negative outcomes.

 

PESTLE – what will the future look like when your “change” is embedded? What do you need to factor  in under the following headings. We find it useful to list the benefits and drawbacks here.

Worked example – “Should a  third runway be constructed at at Heathrow Airport?”

Politcial

PoliticalThe P in political can be a large or small one! It can be about National or International issues or local, even interpersonal politics? Every work place has stakeholders and they are usually political beasties.

Heathrow Example

Benefits; Potential for increased employment, further investment in the area, Heathrow being seen as an International hub, Closer working between central government and local authorities

Drawbacks; Danger for local MPs who might get voted out if they support the plan, widespread disruption for several years, impact on “newly” affected noise pollution areas

 

Economic

EnvironmentalWhat are the Economic factors in the change?

Heathrow Example

Benefits; Massive investment in area and infrastructure, huge employment opportunities, attracts the best people to work and live near the airport, huge revenues for local authorities, Hotel and restaurant expansion, skills levels of workforce raised

Drawbacks; South East housing “bubble” further exacerbated, inequality of funding to other regions, transport implications in an already busy part of the UK

Social

SocialWhat are the social implications of the change, to organisations, teams , individuals, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders?

Heathrow Example

Benefits; Employment, investment in hospitals, schools and infrastructure to support workforce

Drawbacks; Increased shift working, families cannot afford housing, potential for very desirable expensive housing only, blight on communities with noise, impact on “newly” affected areas of noise and emission pollution, creation of ghost towns?

 

Technological

TechnologicalWhat Technological advances or intervention can be used? Even if the advances are currently embryonic. Are there changes in technologies that potentially make the change redundant before it starts?

Heathrow Example

Benefits; Lower engine noise and emissions mean that the impact of more flights will not have an adverse effect on the population. Better sound proofing materials exist now, more accurate monitoring and recording of the  impacts are possible

Drawbacks; As planes get quieter we could put more flights through the existing runways, as IT technologies get better we could adapt and shorten the distance between take off and landings thus NOT requiring additional runway capacity

Legal

LegalWhat are the legal implications of the change OR the legal Implications of the Status Quo?

Heathrow Example;

Benefits; Government backing

Drawbacks; costly Public consultation process, lengthy appeals process, challenge to decision could come from several areas, local residents take action against the airport and it’s contractors.

Environmental

EnvironmentalWhat is the potential environmental impact of the change from Macro to Micro. Does standing still have a potentially negative Environmental Impact?

Heathrow Example;

Benefits;Newer Aircraft are less damaging to the environment, they carry more people, are more fuel efficient, emit less CO2

Drawbacks; Increasing the number of flights increases noise, pollution from CO2, damage to wildlife, potential physical and mental harm to residents.

PESTLE

Is a really useful consultation, communication, motivation and behavioural tool. The Heathrow expansion example is a bit simplistic, but within a relatively short time you can roll out the implications for your change idea and also explore the possible dangers of in-action. We encourage clients to use this tool as an integral part of the way that they lead and manage change. Can we help you through training, coaching, consulting and increasing confidence to do the same?

Contact us via Email Richard or Paula

Follow us on Twitter Richard or Paula

Like us on Facebook

Call us direct!  08712 349 873

 

 

 

 

Keeping your little Elves ‘ealthy – 9 Top Management Tips for Santa

Elves

9 Top tips to keep your little Elves ‘ealthy all year round.

 

The season of good cheer is on us! The season of Christmas cards, presents, secret Santa and the office social event.  For most of us this is a bit of fun,  the opportunity to take some time out, to be friendly to those around us, to actually share some feelings with others at work. (click for previous blog on this).

The warm glow of being part of something, of  making an effort, valuing those around you. Wouldn’t it be great to do this all year through? Here are our top tips on achieving Santa’s wonderland in your work place.

Christmas Elves

Santa’s all year sack of gifts

 

Gift 1  – The vision

Be really clear about your expectations of your Elves. What is the overall vision. Share this vision with the Elves as often as you can, so that they know how important it is that the children all get a Christmas gift.

Gift 2 – Check the Elves understand

Allow your Elves to question and understand the vision, often we assume that because we have sent out a message, that the others have received it. How often has Santa got unclear letters from boys and girls? Check, check, check your communication. No one wants to be disappointed on Christmas day.

Gift 3 – Give them specifics, objectives.

Break down the vision into broad aims, attributable to teams of Elves. Show your little helpers that they make a difference and that their hard work is both valued and necessary. Elves should know that good behaviour is really important too.

Gift 4 – Be open to ideas

Create an atmosphere where its OK to question. Have open dialogue with the Elves about the toys they make. How many, what colour, how long and to what quality must they be? When they are successful Santa can deliver on the 24th of December.

Gift 5 – Who is the expert here?

When the Helpers are working hard at their stations TRUST them to make their toys well, they have the skills, they are the experts not you Santa!

Gift 6 – Feedback

Walk around the workshop, not every day but often. Catch those naughty Elves out; doing a good job! Tell them they are on the “nice” list. Reward good performance and behaviour.

Gift 7 – Innovation in the grotto

Every couple of months ask each Elf to sit down with you and talk about their toy making, are there any new toys they could make or better ways to make the old favorites?

Gift 8 – Elves can improve Santa’s performance

When you chat with the little people ask them how they think Santa is doing, they might find this hard at first because Santa is SANTA!. After a while they might really tell you, which is great for the development of your emotional intelligence.

Gift 9 – Reward the Elves

When you sit down for your once a year chat with each Elf, you will be able to give them rewarding gifts, gifts they want, because you have followed all the above Santa management Steps. This will improve motivation and performance. If it does go wrong at least you’ve got your Elf.

 

Merry Christmas from all of us at PDP, Have a happy holiday. When you come back after the break give us a call to help you have lots of Christmas’ in 2015.

To check where Santa is on the 24th December click here

 

Tweet us @richardjonesPDP or @therealme_PDP

Email Us Richard@professionaldevelopmentpeople.co.uk or Paula@professionaldevelopmentpeople.co.uk

Like us on Facebook

 

How to develop a #safeguarding culture?

safeguarding

How to develop a #safeguarding culture?

The $64,000 question is how to develop a #safeguarding culture?  Well, there are many ways to do it. This blog examines how we have worked with employees to overcome the ‘English Man’s Home is his Castle’ apathy, and have challenged the view that “I have no right or obligation to interfere  with what’s going on behind closed doors”.  We at PDP want to galvanise your company and employeees to develop a culture of appropriate vigilance and referrals.

Remember the best training ALWAYS follows a good consultation process!

What we offer? A typical Training event.

1. Hearts and minds, convincing and influencing your teams that they have a duty and that it’s not an onerous one. (Click to see our previous Blog)

2. When do colleagues come across children in their work place? Practical session to explore the reality of exposure to children at work for YOUR business.

3. Baby P and the fallout from his tragic death. The mismanagement of Risk and the consequences for children, business and employees. Implications in YOUR world.

4. Children’s homes to Family and back again? How children have been treated by the state in our lifetimes.

5. Development of safeguarding from Cleveland to present – A whistle stop tour through the major bits of legislation and some factors that contributed to their existence.

6. Major bits of Law that we need to be aware of so that YOU can make a difference.

7. The lexicon of Safeguarding.  The importance of getting the language right, of being seen to be using appropriate terminology. Moving YOUR culture forward by using the right lexicon.

8. Concept of CRB (now replaced with DBS) – Bichard inquiry into the Soham Murders. How this came about, the effect of CRB and the latest incarnation.

#safeguarding

9. The umbrella of the state and the role of Local Safeguarding Children’s boards. Who should be there for children, what does a LSCB do? How does YOUR business fit into the umbrella.

10. The continuum of need, regular swift interventions before protection. The process and principles of swift interventions.

11. How we might begin to categorise the things we see. With supporting data from the NSPCC

12. Hearing my internal voices, what can, and must I do, when I feel really uncomfortable?

13. How does my personal baggage effect decision making? How do GOOD people walk past safeguarding issues?

14. Making clear effective referrals

15. Who to refer to and how to do it, using YOUR business’ policy and procedures.

16. Case Studies from real life examples in YOUR business sector.

17.Bringing your concerns under the umbrella, bringing the day to life, next steps  – Plenary session.

 

Like to find out more, get a feel for our style? Give us call.

 

Contact Richard or Paula to let them help YOU on 08712 349 873

Like us on Facebook

Follow Paula on Twitter or Richard on Twitter

Richard@professionaldevelopmentpeople.co.uk

Paula@professionaldevelopmentpeople.co.uk

 

 

#Safeguarding children – Your responsibility

#Safeguarding children - Your responsibility

#Safeguarding children – Your responsibility.

  • Q1. Should you have any? Well morally you should……
  • Q2.Do you have any? We don’t all share that moral imperative so some people turn a blind eye….
  • Q3.Does your place of work mean that responsibility is also a legal one? Many people that fit into Q2 also work in, or contract with, organisations that have a duty to #safeguard children. By working within that business you  have a legal duty to do the same.

 

#Safeguarding children – some facts…

 

Why is it so important that we #safeguard and promote the welfare of children? Have a look at this link, which isn’t graphic, but is informative.  (OFSTED VIDEO)

Where issues are seen to be real, are talked about, are factored into organisational behaviour we get better results.

Did you know that “20% of child deaths reviewed in England between 2010 and 2011 were from preventable causes including accidents, suicide, abuse, and neglect.” (Click to the Lancet research). #

According to the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children)

“in in the 17-month period to the end of August 2008 local authorities in England notified Ofsted of 424 serious incidents involving the deaths of 282 children. This equates to 199 annually, or almost four children each week. Since publication of this report, Ofsted has clarified that 210 of these deaths, i.e. three each week, were actually attributable to abuse or neglect (Gilbert,2008).”

This was also within the time frame of Peter Connoly’s Death (Baby P).

Does that shock you? Revolt you? It is something that needs to change and is within all of our wit to change.

 

#Safeguarding Children – What can I do?safeguarding

Do you ever hear voices? I do, I have been checked out and I am OK! These voices say things to me like “what is happening there?”, “did she really say that?”, “What does that mean”, “OMG …!.”

We all have these voices and should try to turn up that volume when encountering children through our work (legal responsibility) but actually we ought to be doing this outside of work too… (moral responsibility?)

So what types of things might we encounter that would set these voices off, that might ring Alarm bells?

 

#Safeguarding – the 5 broad categories of abuse

In England and Wales there are 5 broad categories of abuse, which help us to focus on things that might be happening.

The numbers quoted here are attributed to the NSPCC (LINK)

 

Physical Abuse

  • hurting a child.
  • causing deliberate injuries.
  • 1 in14 children have been physically abused, 20% of the NSPCC helpline calls were about this last year.

 

Sexual Abuse

  • when a child is forced or coerced to take part in sexual activity, whether the abuse is physical or not. This includes grooming and online abuse.
  • 1 in three children that are sexually abused stay silent.
  • 1 in 20 children in the Uk have suffered sexual abuse.

 

Emotional

  • when a child is deliberately ignored, humiliated, isolated or scared.
  • 1 in 14 Uk children have suffered this from a parent or guardian.

 

Neglect

  • failing to meet a child’s basic needs through things like poor diet, emotional welfare, clothing, warmth and love.
  • 1 in 10 children have experienced neglect.

 

Domestic Violence

  • where children are present, when adults abuse each other, intimidate, bully or undertake acts of physical violence.
  • being present doesn’t need to mean in the room! Ever had your in-laws staying?
  • 1 in 5 children have been exposed to domestic violence.
  • 60% of serious case reviews quote domestic abuse as being a significant factor.

 The dangers of categorising abuse

WAbusee need to be able to describe what we have encountered in a logical clear way. This adds clarity to our referrals, but to attribute only one of these categories to a child is too simplistic. How can someone that is being beaten (physically abused) not also be a victim of Neglect and Emotional abuse. The categories can help us, but professionals always look at the broader picture.

I hope you found this interesting, in subsequent blogs we will look at what you can really see, hear and feel that would require you to take some action.

At PDP we consult, design and deliver programmes around safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children that are stimulating, engaging and developmental.  We recognise your business has its own specific needs and bespoke programmes accordingly.

Here is an example of direct feedback from the a customer last week

 

“I think this course was useful to everyone not just operational

staff, his personal knowledge on the subject was outstanding and his personal

experience helped to overview real scenarios as opposed to

made up scenario’s following a powerpoint.”

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How can schools support children living in difficult conditions?

How can schools support children living in difficult conditions

This blog is written in response to a Linked In (Early Years Training Group) article by Leah Davies in which she questions how American schools can support children living in difficult conditions, citing homelessness as a key area.  My immediate response was that schools in the UK don’t face this same issue, as in my long career in education, as a teacher and through supporting children and young people with a range of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, I hadn’t come across “homeless children” before (which I associated with living on the streets), nor had schools highlighted  children living in this manner.How can schools support children living in difficult conditions?

I then realised how naïve this sounded, and researched the term “homeless children in the UK” and found a number of references to this group, but not necessarily referring to them living on the streets, but families staying in temporary accommodation, such as B&B’s, sleeping on friends floors and sofas or whole families sharing one room.  There is also reference to children living in domestic violence shelters. All of these situations I have come across and worked with both children and parents living in these conditions, but saw their situation as different to being literally homeless.How can schools support childrnen living in difficult conditions?

The issues facing these children are the same as Leah mentioned in her article, “Homeless families have no shelter of their own, are often hungry…live in emergency or transitional shelters”.   and from my experiences there is a distinct lack of space, few personal possessions and an underlying feeling of unease or fear of being threatened.  One mother living in a B&B with a baby and a 3 year old admitted to locking them in her bedroom when she went to have a shower,, to make sure they were safe and that no-one could get into her room.  How is that safe?  How can she be sure that neither child won’t harm themselves?  How can she have a shower in peace and relax?

How can schools support childrn living in difficult conditions?

A common problem for families living in these conditions, is their heightened sensitivity to what is happening around them.  They are not in a familiar environment, in a B&B they cannot control who stays in the room next door, and so may be housed with those who have drink, drug or anger issues, as well as mental health problems.  My child sleeps in a familiar bedroom, with familiar toys, the same routine and peace.  These children may be in rooms next to loud tvs, people shouting, swearing or arguingThe young people are not only sharing a room, but at times also a bed with their parents or siblings, so a restful night’s sleep is impossible!  The National Children’s Bureau  highlights how poverty and disadvantage will cause children to “lag far behind their more affluent peers in almost all areas of their lives”

How can schools support children living in difficult conditions?

There may be issues around concentrating in the classroom and so set short tasks requiring focused concentration, with a more practical activity or discussion to follow up on learning.  By changing the learning style, this can keep the child on task for longer.

Give the child space…

Acknowledge and arrange for the child to have ‘headspace’ or time to let off steam, if they are living in a noisy or cramped environment or have to be quiet so as no to upset or disturb those living around them.

Where can homework be done…

Be aware the child may need to complete homework during the day, due to not having a table or space to do so outside of school.  Ensure this can be achieved without the child missing much needed break times?

Involve appropriate professionals…

Involve the Senco and local agencies, with parental permission, to assist the family in their housing issue or to offer support in other ways.

Listen….

Know and understand the family’s situation.  Don’t be embarrassed to find out.  You can’t support the child if you don’t understand the problems.

Be aware for things going missing…

There may be issues around ‘borrowing’ school items or those from other children, especially if the child has very few possessions of their own, or they get lost due to the transient nature of their living arrangement.  Provide the child with his or her own set of equipment, pencil, ruler etc that can be left in school .

Issues with sharing…

The child may have difficulty sharing, as they may feel the object will be taken away from them and not returned.  Use circle time to discuss the principles of sharing, and have class toys/equipment that are readily available for the child to use, especially when they need comforting or re-focusing after an outburst.

Anxiety issues coming to the fore…

Recognise the child may be suffering from anxiety and need a lot of reassurance, praise and appropriate reward systems to improve his or her self confidence and self esteem.

Focus on inappropriate behaviour…

Deal with temper tantrums and behaviour outbursts calmly but firmly.  Children whose home lives are vicarious and potentially chaotic need boundaries within which they can express how they are feeling safely, and in which the same responses to their behaviour will be given each time.

 How can schools support children living in difficult conditions?

Do you think children in your school or Nursery may be living in uncertain circumstances, and show their anxiety in their behaviour?

If so, get in touch with me for some fresh ideas!

5 steps to running a successful parents’ support group

successful parents' support group

5 steps to running a successful parents’ support group

Reading an article regarding increasing parental involvement made me reflect on the value of setting up and running a successful parent’s support group, as early in the school year as possible.   As staff,  you will quickly become aware of those children who are engaging in  negative behaviours, and will begin trying to change that behaviour through rewards and sanctions, as well as talking 5 steps to running a successful parent's support groupto their parents about your concerns and trying to get them on board.

Some children are new to school life and are struggling to adapt to the formal nature of the setting and cry each time they are left or have regular tantrums throughout their time with you.  Some parents themselves are finding it difficult to leave their little ones,  cry at handover time, and are difficult to get out of the classroom.    I can look back on memories of cajoling parents into leaving their children, then moving onto guiding them to the classroom door, then physically shutting the door, whilst they yell around the frame “remember mummy loves you….the teacher will call me if you need me……I might just wait in the office for half an hour to check that they settle”.  These parents can be their child’s very reason for not settling!

Other children are familiar with school and the routines and are flexing their muscles.  Still others,  may have regularly displayed episodes of choosing to engage in negative behaviour, whilst some may have  an undiagnosed condition such as ADHD or Aspergers or other aspects of the autistic spectrum.

 

How do you engage parents in discussing their child’s inappropriate behaviour?

successful parent's support group

This is a tricky one, as often the parents you want to speak to are the very ones who ignore you!  More often than not, their own experiences of being at school are extremely negative and they want to avoid being in the building, meeting a teacher and discussing school work at all costs.  Their own academic skills may be poor and so they don’t want to show themselves up by displaying their lack of knowledge.  Add to this already long list of why these parents don’t want to engage with school, the fact that you are complaining about their child’s behaviour, and you can understand why they might blow up at your suggestion that they try that bit harder to help the school!

I have a background in SEN, especially focusing on social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) and worked both in schools and as part of a local authority behaviour support team. We spent many hours looking at the best ways to work with parents, ranging from formal meetings at school and the accompanying paperwork tying them into trying things at home, which inevitably failed, to having a cup of tea with them in a place they felt comfortable and discussing how to move forward together.  This took time and steps were slow, as we were working on a 1:1 basis.  I found one of the best ways was forming a support group with parents.  I deliberately use the term with, rather than for parents, as they have to feel both parties are on the same side, in order for real changes to be made.

5 steps to running a successful parents' support group

5 steps to running a successful parent’s support group

STEP 1 – Choose carefully the mix of parents who will be in the group.

Will you ‘invite’ parents to join the group, or will they choose to sign up with no suggestion from the school?

From my experience, you will find a number of parents willing to come to a parent’s support group, but will they be the right ones?  The ones who avoid coming to school, don’t return letters etc, will not put their names forward for this.

I’ve tended to ‘invite’ personally those who I want to attend and also mention it to those parents who appear anxious about their children or keen to help, but I have no real concerns over.  This mix ensures that I would not be talking at a group of parents, but that some would ask and answer questions as well. This reinforced the idea that we were actively seeking parental expertise to help change their children’s behaviour.  Also it doesn’t look like a “failing parents group”, as one mum suggested I was asking her to attend.

 

STEP 2 – Think carefully about the time of day, length and purpose of tsuccessful parent's support grouphe sessions.

These things can make or break a successful parent’s support group.  Parents will always come up with a reason to not attend boring school stuff, that they think has no relevance to them, and also where they will be told that they aren’t parenting their kids right.

The groups I’ve been involved with, trialled times and dates, and found that generally running the session straight after drop off or before pick up were the best times.  We also choose a day towards the end of the week, as often behaviour was getting worse at home as well as at school, and parents were more receptive to behaviour management ideas that they might try out of pure desperation!

The first session was only 30 minutes long, as we wanted it to be as painless as possible, and parents to feel pleasantly surprised when it appeared to be over quickly.  The next session was 45 minutes and then the others were 60 minutes long.  We tended to run them for half a term, and so recruitment began the half term before, in order to get maximum numbers attending the sessions.

 

STEP 3 – What’s in it for them?

A creche facility was offered for siblings, which initially  was in the same room as our parent’s support group.  This was for two reasons, firstly, to alleviate parental anxiety over what the younger ones were up to and who was looking after them.  We needed to build up trust.  Secondly, it was free childcare and gave them a break!  Thirdly, it meant if parents found the format to imposing, they could pretend to play/oversee their children, whilst still be in the room listening and hopefully contributing.  Fourthly, parents couldn’t cancel, because they had no one to look after their child.

We ensured we offered refreshments for both parents and the toddlers, including cakes for the parents rather than biscuits, as they  thought this was a treat.

Lastly, we arranged for their school based children to be brought to the meeting room, as then our support group sessions didn’t have tparent group wordso be cut short, with parents slowly drifting out.  This strategy also allowed parents to talk to one another after the more formal input and us to have ‘light touch’ 1:1’s with certain parents.

 

STEP 4 – Choose staff whom the parents like and respect and provide the necessary time for them to fulfil this role properly

My role  with schools was devising the programme for the parent support group project and then acting as the facilitator for each session with a member of school staff.  Choose carefully who that person will be.  The parents have to know this person and have some form of respect or positive opinion about them to start with, as well as feel they are quite high up the school pecking order.  The choices have often been the SENCO or Deputy Head.  These people have been released from some of their duties to allow them to focus on these children, including meeting parents informally throughout the week and checking on the progress of the children in the classroom/playground.

5 steps to running a successful parents' support group

STEP 5 – Gaining trust and building relationships

This is key if you want to work more intimately with parents.  This can be an uphill battle, due to the feelings parents may have about their own school experiences.  How do school staff begin to break down those barriers and build relationships with parents?  The success of your parent’s support group will depend on this.

In our first session,  we stuck to the 30 minute time slot and  asked parents for their experiences of school.  We ensured we had quotes from other parents that we could use, to demonstrate we  understood and had listened to and more importantly ‘heard’ how some parents may feel negatively about their school experiences.

Once we started, the parents offered their stories and we had a great deal of laughter and also some shocked gasps.  There was emotion in the room, but not highly charged, so it was easy to handle, if you were a skilled teacher or facilitator.  For parents to share these emotions, they must have that key member of staff who they know and reasonably like, as obviously I was new to them.

We kept the session light hearted and asked them for tips on how they managed their children’s behaviour at home. We validated each idea, as far as we could, and then translated it into what we could and couldn’t do at school, both through choice and legally!

We kept it as a discussion forum, then offered 1:1 sessions afterwards if parents wanted to discuss their individual child. Inevitably, it’s the nervous parents who come to see you, rather than the ones you needed to.  However, it meant there were always willing voices to share what strategies they had tried out during the next week.  This allowed us to become facilitators for only part of the session, rather than throughout, and the group began to talk to each other outside of the sessions and share ideas.

successful parent's support group

Each session we focused on a key behaviour issue, rather than a child and asked parents to comment if their child displayed that behaviour, which they inevitably did, and we could then add what we were seeing in school and strategies we used.  We  would explain how we wanted the parents to support us with changing the behaviour. Gradually parents moved from saying their child wasn’t a problem at home, to admitting they were, and often the behaviours were more extreme.  This led to some pro-active joint problem solving between home and the school.

 

5 steps to running a successful parents' support group

 Contact Paula at PDP to  plan a successful parent’s support group.