Heads Up and Train the Trainer programmes

The NHS Finance Skills Development Network (FSD) is a network of regional FSD Managers and FSD Lead Officers in every NHS organisation in England. We are committed to the improvement of finance skills in the NHS workforce.

In the North East of England the FSD Plan, “Stepping Up”, aims to offer development opportunities for finance staff at all levels. In 2008 a number of local FSD Leads – Deputy and Assistant Directors of Finance – identified a development need for supervisory staff in their finance departments. These were people doing a good job in their own section but not necessarily seeing the bigger picture – how their work fitted into the goals for the greater finance department or indeed the organisation as a whole.  Intelligence from the annual Finance Staff Database exercise had highlighted a need from these staff for a range of people skills and team management skills development.

FSD Leads mapped out an idea for a programme of short sharp interventions covering a combination of sessions on Financial Services, Financial Management and people skills.  It was always going to be difficult finding an external provider that knew enough about NHS finance and people skills. We believed that we had our own experts in finance and we knew the messages we wanted to get across but we didn’t have the confidence that we could effectively deliver those messages.  We still needed an expert on people skills. So we looked for a trainer that could get our own experts’ presentation skills up to scratch as well as delivering the people skills for us.

We found New Tricks Advanced Business Training, who were based locally. They had experience of working with local NHS organisations as well as with a number of large and complex clients around the country.  New Tricks Train the Trainer one day course was delivered to eleven volunteer accountants from around the North East NHS, with the quid pro quo that they had to deliver a session on a subsequent FSD programme that became “Heads Up for Supervisors”.

Train the Trainer was a revelation to most of us. Some of us were used to producing Microsoft Powerpoint slideshows and standing at the front and talking through the slides.  Others were novices at presenting and extremely nervous at first. We learnt how to produce effective presentations and not to rely on slideshows. We learnt to specify behavioural objectives; to narrow down what we needed to say or demonstrate to deliver the objectives; to engage the audience in active participation, including questioning techniques and seeking feedback.

Armed with confidence gained from the Train the Trainer days we set about identifying topics and constructing a three day programme for supervisors that would deliver the original requirements to improve supervisors’ people and team skills and to help them see their own contributions to the greater organisational goals.

Throughout the programme New Tricks’ Kevin Meaney provided support and feedback to the expert finance presenters as well as delivering the people skills sessions.

Nineteen supervisors completed the programme between November 2009 and January 2010.  Each delegate committed to taking actions resulting from the programme and these are being followed up some months after completion to ensure the knowledge and skills are embedded.

Feedback from delegates and their sponsoring managers was positive enough to get a further programme into the FSD plan for 2010/11. In support of that and to increase the number of people skilled in presenting we have also included two more Train the Trainer days in 2010/11.

The senior finance staff who undertook Train the Trainer courses can now be seen deploying their new skills in various situations where they need to get messages across.  Supervisors are better able to get the most from their teams and contribute more effectively to organisational goals.

In summary we feel we have got great and lasting value for money from restricted resources.

David Young FSD
NHS North East
June 2010