Youth Sports Trust gets fit for the future

Organisations go forward more confidently when their strategy and leadership style are in perfect step. Working with Pearn Kandola, the Youth Sport Trust (YST) has introduced a management development initiative, ‘Setting the Pace’ to make sure the charity is in great shape to meet the challenges of 2012 and beyond.

The Trust builds a brighter future for young people by creating physical education and sport opportunities in partnership with government organisations, companies and schools. Since it was set up in 1994 the YST has helped over five million children across the UK and its work is becoming more high profile due to the London Olympics. The ‘Setting the Pace’ programme is aimed at improving the charity’s organisational effectiveness by promoting a consistent attitude to team-working. Its introduction also follows a period of expansion – the Trust now employs more than 120 staff across a number of locations and has an annual turnover in excess of £24 million.

Helen Shuttleworth, who is responsible for learning and development there, explains: “Over the last few years we’ve recruited technical specialists from a variety of backgrounds, including sport, education and business development. While all our staff are highly dedicated and passionate about what they do, their individual skill sets and experience of management environments are very different.”

‘Setting the Pace’ provided YST with valuable insight on a number of counts. It gave a clear picture of the charity’s leadership approach, with emphasis on project accountability and performance management, and what this meant for team members. Staff also gained a better understanding of best practice procedures, particularly in relation to managing remote teams successfully and progressing people’s personal development.

The programme ran over several weeks and involved 360 degree feedback, leadership impact psychometrics, group interactions, and role-plays with professional actors. Its interactive format encouraged managers to talk openly and constructively, and to develop the capabilities to deal authoritatively with everyday issues. Each participant also produced an action plan focusing on what they wanted to do differently in future.

Helen Shuttleworth commented: “Our senior managers got a lot out of Pearn Kandola’s programme. The development experience was very relevant to their day-to-day roles and enabled them to make immediate changes to the way they work.”

An evaluation of the programme confirmed its positive impact. Managers said they appreciated getting to know both themselves and their colleagues better. They especially valued the supportive environment and the contribution of the facilitators. Having the time to reflect, practise skills and develop new strategies had boosted their motivation and confidence and in many cases led to them having more meaningful reviews with line managers.

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