Today I delivered some virtual training on analytical thinking as a practice skill for Best Interests Assessors and practitioners more generally for a lovely group of our in-house BIAs. This was the brain child of our DoLS manager and I and had been causing me no small amount of concern.
Because I’ve never delivered skills based training before. All the previous training has been largely knowledge based. And when doing knowledge based training, all I have to is pass on my knowledge in an accessible and engaging way and that is usually achievable (or at least that is what I like to think).
But skills training is different, because we only learn skills by using them, and so I (and one of my very helpful new colleagues) designed a few exercises to try to prompt practitioners to look at issues in a more analytical way and unpick some scenarios.
Add in the fact that this training had to be delivered virtually and I was already starting to regret my decision.
And I have no idea when I thought I was going to be able to actually prepare for this training. How naive of me to think that at the height of holiday season when colleagues are on leave left, right and centre that I would have time to do anything other than fire fight.
But today’s session went surprisingly well. Which is a relief. Indeed it was quite a successful experiment all round. Because we are having a change of approach as a legal team. We are having a real push towards working more closely and proactively with our clients, and training is a part of that, in my opinion.
And this matters to me, it is something I have been quite passionate about for a few years. There are a lot of downsides to working in-house in local authority, but one of the real benefits for me has been being able to build long-term, lasting relationships with my clients. I like helping them problem-solve as part of projects and spotting trends in practice that need improved. When we are all working for the same organisation I get to see more of the bigger picture and understand how all the pieces fit together. It is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the case work. And if I can get the right outcome for a customer I feel great that I have played a part in making a difference to that person’s life. But if I can improve practice more widely, how many more customers will benefit from systems that are effective and efficient and practitioners who are knowledgeable, confident and empowered in their day to day roles?
Teach a man to fish, and all that.
So, yeah, I have quite a lot invested in experiments like this, at least in an emotional sense.
Thankfully, the practitioners who attended today were keen and really got involved in the activities (much to my relief). It was great to see them bouncing ideas off each other and talking through the problems we had set. It is easy to get cynical doing what I do, when so much of what I do is getting involved when things have gone wrong. So it was great for me to see practitioners using their skills and getting a more accurate picture of what they must be like on the majority of cases, the ones they don’t need me to be involved in because they are doing what they do best.
So today, I am pleased to report, has been a good day.
All I can hope is that the practitioners who attended the session took as much from it as I did.
In case it isn’t obvious from the fact I still haven’t identified the authority I work for, the views expressed on this blog are my own opinion and not the opinion of that local authority