Nurture soft skills to create a place people love to work

7K0A0223As organisations increasingly recognise the importance of soft skills, the Rickter Scale provides an ideal vehicle to benefit both the employee’s personal growth and the company’s bottom line through soft skill development.

Customer service key to business success

Good standards of customer service are critical to any business success and the soft skills (or lack thereof) of your workforce has a lasting effect on the customer experience. It has been well documented that a happy workforce equals happy customers.

Employees who feel undervalued and overlooked are not conducive to any place of business. People always perform best when they feel appreciated, with their input and achievements being acknowledged. Feeling ‘good’ about work and that they are a valued part of the team helps an employee feel motivated to do their best.

In these busy times, managers can be forgiven for being so caught up in trying to keep on top of business activities that often employees are being ‘left to it’. More than ever it feels there is too little time to spend speaking with staff when there are clients to see, orders to go out or issues to resolve.

However neglect soft skills development at your cost, with recent research by the Development Economics group suggesting this is an area worth £88bn to the UK economy per year, particularly in businesses that rely on face-to-face human interaction.

Tackling the soft skills gap to create a better workplace

The best way to improve soft skills is through the recognition of what they are and then by goal-setting and measuring the subsequent journey.

 Workplace wellbeing can easily be aided by taking some simple steps:

  • Teach your workforce what soft skills are
  • Using the Rickter Scale, work with individuals to recognise their soft skills and determine the steps needed for growth
  • Create a workable action plan, encouraging individuals to build and expand on their soft skills

Working on your team’s soft skills will almost certainly contribute to the productivity and operational efficiency of your organisation or service.

Rickter is the ideal process for helping individuals recognise and develop soft skills such as Leadership, Communication, Resilience and Time Management.

Contact us to request more information on the Nurturing Soft Skills Rickter framework.

What do you do to create a happy workplace? Tweet sharing your ideas @ricktercompany  #Rickter

The Ultimate Rickter Interview

With 15 years experience of using the Rickter Scale, we asked our Director of Operations Nan Wood  for her top tips to accomplishing an effective Rickter Scale interview.

“On training days I often receive positive feedback on my skills when interviewing.  These usually centre around how at ease I am, the tone of my voice and how good my recollection is when I reflect back.  I have to say that most of this comes with practice and perhaps a few things I have picked up over the years of using Rickter.  Believe me when I started, I had the same challenges and worries as everyone else! I thought it might be useful to share what I consider to be my tips for using Rickter effectively.”

  1. After your Practitioner training read all of the handouts, especially the “Rickter Steps” document, to help get the process of the interview clear in your head. Don’t feel that you have to learn the Baseline Profile Questions off by heart, familiarity will come through using them. There is more chance of making mistakes if you try to rush things. Don’t cut corners, stick to the language and the process as you learned it on training.
  1. Think about who you are going to interview first and if you have a choice in this, ask an individual that you know and with whom you have already established rapport.
  1. Prepare for the interview by having all of your resources ready. If you are using an overlay, ensure you have printed off those questions, the recording sheets and Action Plan. Put your resources in the room before the interview, laying them off to the side on a small table if possible, but within reach.
  1. Think about where you are going to do the interview and set up the space to be as user-friendly as possible i.e. chairs in ten-to-two position, handkerchiefs and water. I try to sit on the left of the individual because this enables me to read the headings on the board and acts as my prompt. Make sure you are safe by working with someone and letting them know where you are and how long you plan to be.
  1. Be welcoming to the individual you are going to interview and help them feel at ease. Their first big step may be coming through the door to see you.
  1. Practice your introduction, keeping it simple and explaining the reasons that you are using the Rickter Scale and what you hope the individual will gain from it. Remember to protect yourself and the individual by explaining the service rules of confidentiality and disclosure.
  1. Think about your body language, the tone of your voice and about this being a shared experience. Try to be observant as you go through the Rickter process, watching the individual’s body language. This can lead to you asking additional questions, or if you see distress or agitation it is about asking whether they are okay to continue. You don’t want Rickter to be a negative experience, so always remember to offer choice.
  1. Remember the individual is the expert on themselves, you simply have to listen and value what is being shared with you. Don’t panic over reflecting back by putting barriers up in your head, where all you are thinking about is that you have a terrible memory. Reflect back only what you have heard and not your own opinions. Bear in mind the individual is sharing in this process and will help you to recollect if necessary.
  1. Record the Action Plan and help make the steps for the individual small and achievable. If they can complete the first step, they will be encouraged to move forward and see the impact this has on the rest of their lives. Make sure you explain this is an ongoing process and set a date for the review before they leave the first interview. Record the interview data. This evidence is there not only for the individual’s progress, but also to demonstrate the work you are doing and your service provision. It may even help you to keep your job secure by demonstrating good practice to help gain funding.

10. Ensure that you have support from line management. You need to know that you have someone to talk with and share how you feel if you have a particularly challenging interview, but it’s also good to share and celebrate those positive outcomes. Remember too that we are always here to support you and we like to hear of the positive effect Rickter has too. Knowing you have this should help to build confidence.

I hope these tips help as you are using the Rickter Scale and if you have any to add, we are always open to learning.

Nan Wood, Director of Operations

Launch of new Rickter Appraisal System

Appraiser Training A new way of undertaking staff appraisal, our system benefits Management and Staff, helping achieve positive outcomes for the organisation as a whole.

Having just delivered our first Rickter Appraiser training, we are very pleased with how well it has been received:

“Excellent course, I will recommend it to others”

“As the Rickter Appraiser System is a positive focus, it will promote positive teams and very realistic goals”

This training focuses solely on staff appraisal using the Rickter Staff Appraisal System which has been developed around the Rickter Scale Process.

Through our experience and from feedback received on training evaluations, we identified a common gap exists around managers/supervisors delivery of staff appraisals/supervision. Quite often people have earned promotions and moved through a service or company and although they know their organisation systems extremely well, they have never received any kind of training around carrying out staff appraisal.

We are promoting the Rickter Appraiser training to address this skills shortfall and to offer a formal method for reporting positive staff outcomes and good practice. Some organisations are unhappy with the appraisal systems they currently have in place and are looking for a simple and effective replacement. We know that the Rickter Staff Appraisal System works, having used it very successfully within our own employee management programme for a number of years now.

The one day Rickter Appraiser course is ideal not only for those new to employee management, but also for anyone wishing to enhance their existing skills and implement a more formal system of appraisal and staff engagement.

The training costs £195.00 per person which includes a Rickter Scale Appraiser Board and access to the online Rickter Appraiser IMS (Information Management System) for recording action plans and outcomes. Lunch and refreshments are also included.

On completion of the training, you will receive a certificate to use Rickter in the capacity of staff appraisal and will leave equipped with all the tools you need to implement a new Appraisal System that straight away will help build motivation, helping create a stronger workforce.

Please complete our webform to register an interest in accessing future courses. Be sure to state your location and the number of places you would provisionally require.

Thank you so much to our first participants, Jan and George. We very much appreciate your input and feedback.

European Centre for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Conference

Building a picture of achievement

Building a picture of personal achievement

The final conference for our Bulgarian partnership with the European Centre for Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship took place in Plevin. The project aim was to support 300 young people into employment over a twelve month period by conducting three Rickter Scale Interviews, two on-line consultations and giving access to on-line resources with regard to building job preparation skills.

The outcome is that practitioners have engaged with over 300 young people and have supported 48% into employment.

The conference audience was made up of some of the young people who had participated, employers, professionals and representatives from the Labour Bureau.

Elena Todorova Ivanova-Kiritsova, Personal and Human Communities Development Association opened the conference and explained the aims of the project, Penka Spasova, Chairperson of RESC Pleven talked about the need for this type of work, Keith Stead, The Rickter Company spoke about the outcomes that were evidenced through using Rickter and the IMS, and Nan Wood, The Rickter Company talked about the training and input that we had with regard to reviewing and verifying best practice.

There was a display of coloured boxes with words written on them such as; confidence, motivation, success etc and after each person spoke; including the young people and some of the practitioners, they were asked to select a box that represented what they had gained from the project and they were constructed to offer up a physical picture of what had been achieved.

The conference was a huge success, with everyone involved delighted by the outcomes.

Farewell MobAd!

MobAd Project, Final Meeting _Cyprus 2014

MobAd Project, Final Meeting _Cyprus 2014

Cyprus in July and a heatwave greets us. As we arrive in Nicosia – or Lefcosia as the locals know it –the temperature is already 40° C, and set to rise over the next few days to 45.8°, and that is hot!

Along with our partners from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, we have gathered for the very last meeting of the Grundtvig project ‘Mobility Advising: a way to stimulate motivation for mobility among adult learners’.

After two years of working together on the MobAd project, it is clear that there are a number of ways in which this work can be sustained and further developed.

There is a strong feeling among the partners that mobility is a very important topic and one that could be pursued over a number of EU projects.
The main aim of this current project was to increase the number of learning mobilities undertaken between EU states, first and foremost by providing well trained staff in educational organisations acting as ‘mobility advisors’ to young and adult learners. This is a role without a specific standardised or recognised qualification, and with varying descriptions of what responsibilities it carries. By taking part in international mobility programmes delivered by these specially trained Mobility Advisors, more learners would improve their key competences and skills and thus increase their own employability, and consequently gain improved access to the labour market.

So, while sustainability can be achieved for the MobAd project in the usual way, by exploiting as many ways of disseminating our work as possible, for us that is a given. In addition, we want to take forward our work more formally, by applying for two further projects under the new Erasmus+ Programme.
One of these will be to continue the development of an accredited online course for Mobility Advisors, and the second will be to turn our attention to work we did at the start of the MobAd project in our Survey on the Barriers to Mobility. Our intention is to take this strand of the mobility process and working with young people themselves, investigate in detail how they can be better engaged, informed and motivated to participate in European mobility programmes, not only gaining vital knowledge and skills, but progress in their journey towards employability, specific job readiness, and more generally for opportunity readiness. And of course this would include the introduction of the Rickter Scale Process!

It quickly became evident that there is great variation between the participating countries in how mobilities for young people are perceived outside each country’s borders, the information that is available, the preparation for the mobility itself, the way in which the mobilities are organised and evaluated, and who in fact are the experts in this field. Particularly after completing this project, there is clearly a lot more work to be done.
It is also highly significant that the ‘Special Eurobarometer 417’, coordinated by the European Commission and only published in June 2014, records statistics about poor levels of information about mobility and even poorer figures for actual engagement. This is particularly true of the UK, where European mobilities for young people are hardly promoted at all. Even the word ‘mobilities’ is very rarely heard or understood in the UK!
It is situations like this that continue motivate the MobAd team and in particular the Rickter Company to ensure both the sustainability of the project, and its effective development in the future.

Keith Stead, CEO – The Rickter Company Ltd

Austrian Conference sees the completion of Grundtvig Media Addiction Project

Final Meeting

In May Keith and Nan, accompanied by four Rickter Company Associates attended the final conference for our Plan 2 Grundtvig Learning Partnership in Austria. This project has been about raising awareness of parents, teachers and professionals to the risks children face from computer gaming, social media and cyber-bullying.

The lead partner is the Foundation for Media and Online Addiction, Lunenburg, Germany who have developed LAN-Parties. This is a programme designed to work with parents and professionals to raise awareness of how children feel while using computer games and the risks involved in social media. They work through schools to reach their target groups of pupils, teachers and parents.

One of the other partners is the Romanian German Foundation, Timisoara, Romania. This is a vocational college working mainly with unemployed people to gain skills and qualifications in such things as heating engineering, plumbing, English Language etc.

Our partner hosts for this event were FAB in Linz who are the largest vocational college in Austria. They run a variety of courses and specialise in support for people with disabilities. The conference was held in their college and we were shown the workshops that employ disabled people and had a chance to observe their work. They have partnerships with Nestlé to supply packed goods and an Engineering Contract where they make machine parts. They also have a catering kitchen and run the college canteen, as well as a print office, cabinet makers, laundry, gardening and construction areas. These workshops can be used as a training base which up-skill people to move into open employment or the trainees, who are paid a living wage and can work there for as long as they wish.

The aim of the conference was to share our work with other professionals and political representatives. The event was well attended with representatives from all four countries, as well as many professionals from Linz. After being welcomed by our hosts there followed presentations and workshops.

Meral Akin-Hecke, Digital Champion Austria of the European Union spoke on “Competence instead of Fear” looking at why it is important to overcome the digital gap. Patricia Groib, Safer Surfing, Linz talked on, “Control versus Competence and Arnhild Zorr-Werner, Foundation Media and Online Addiction, Lunenburg, topic was “In the past everything was easier and nowadays does new media need new education?” There were also several workshops afterwards and an Information Zone where Rickter was represented. The conference was well received and successfully raised awareness of the subject matter for those attending. We are very grateful to our friends in Linz for organising this event and hosting it so wonderfully.

While in Linz our hosts took us to the Museum of the Future which is shaped like a ship and is situated right next to the River Danube. Here we saw the history of computing, work on cloning plants and animals, how plastics can be computer generated into working objects and the fantastic three dimensional space zone. A small yellow motorised train took us around Linz to give us a taste of the city and in the evening we attended a social dinner back at the museum in their Cubas Restaurant, which offered wonderful food and views of Linz.

Nan Wood
Director of Operations

Grant’s Story

Rickter ScaleI was delivering Rickter Scale Training in Edinburgh recently for a group of practitioners from a variety of services.

On his introduction, one young man made a huge impression on me and as we talked during the day, I was so interested in his story that I thought you would be too. So I asked him if he would mind sharing it with others and he said, “If I can help one person that helps me”.

We are delighted and grateful to Grant that he took the time and has written the following inspiring story of his personal journey:

Hi my name is Grant Taylor, I had a drink problem for about 27 years but I started to get serious help for it in 2010 when I went to F.I.R.S.T (Fife Intensive Rehabilitation & Substance Misuse Team) and that was the day that changed my life.

I had a great rehabilitation worker, we did relapse prevention and all sorts of work. But one thing that really helped me was the Rickter Scale. It was a great tool to let me see where I was in my life. Here I was in control of it, in control of my answers and it made me feel important.

In the beginning I was very low and had no interests, but after using the Rickter Scale I felt a lot better. When I got my Rickter Scale review a few months later, I was over the moon to have a look at where I had been and where I was now. I only moved up 1 or 2 places, but to me that was a big, big step and to see it there in front of me was amazing!

When I got to the end of my support I had secured all my goals through the Rickter Scale and I can honestly say it changed my life for the better. I am now a support worker myself and thanks to hard work, my rehabilitation worker and the Rickter Scale, I made it.

Grant

Grant is now a Rickter Practitioner himself and is using the Rickter Scale to help others to move on in their lives – a true inspiration!

Nan Wood
Director of Operations

MobAd: Motivation for mobility among adult learners

DSCF8607The Rickter Company is involved in a European Grundtvig Project which is looking at the role of a Mobility Adviser. This is a person who would advise on learning mobilities for students, encouraging them to travel to different countries to access courses, qualifications and to build confidence and experience.

We have already explored the barriers that prevent people from taking up mobility opportunities. These would include; family responsibilities, different food, being alone in a strange country and not speaking the language.

Keith and Nan travelled to Poznan in Poland to meet with our other partners from Germany, Cyprus, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Romania. Our partners in Poznan hosted this meeting and looked after us incredibly well.

We are in the process of outlining a profile of the skills and expertise required by a Mobility Adviser to enable them to engage with people and to fulfil this role to the best of their ability. Through an earlier poll in all the partnership countries we discovered that the UK has the least knowledge and use of mobilities.

Our partner in Lithuania shared their vast experience of working with young people and encouraging them to engage in the mobilities programmes. They say as well as any qualifications gained, the changes in confidence and motivation when these young people return is vast.

We were lucky enough to have a little time to visit the historical parts of Poznan and view their beautiful cathedral and the Castle of Kόrnik, before flying home.

Making an Impact: Moore House Care and Education

PSI Worker and young person in the Throughcare service.

PSI Worker and young person in the Throughcare service.

Moore House Care and Education is an independent organisation in Scotland that specialises in the provision of high quality child care and education services for young people between the ages of 11 and 18 years who have additional support needs because of the social, emotional and behavioural challenges they face.

The Psychological Services and Intervention (PSI) team have been using the Rickter Scale® since 2005 to support and motivate young people to make positive lifestyle changes and to measure outcomes following periods of intervention.

Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) was introduced by the Scottish Government following a review of the Children’s Hearings System in 2004. This national policy and programme requires all agencies in touch with children and young people to play their part in making sure they are healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, included and, above all, safe. Working together with families and local authorities, Moore House are using the Rickter Scale® to help practitioners focus on what makes a positive difference for young people, and how they can act to deliver these improvements. Supporting a positive shift in culture, systems and practice across the organisation, the Rickter Scale® has become central to the driving and evidencing outcomes of care and education planning. Regular reviews of Child Plan progress is promoting a shared approach and accountability that builds solutions with and around young people and families. The Rickter Scale® allows us to clearly evidence the positive outcomes that we achieve during a young person’s placement at Moore House.

Having noted the potential benefits for using Rickter Scale® with staff, Lead Practitioners within Moore House are now using the tool to support new staff through their initial induction period and as an aid to ongoing support and supervision.

PSI are now providing psychological assessment, intervention and consultation to external local authority child care agencies and foster families. For more information see our website; www.moorehouse.org.uk or contact Stephen Drysdale (PSI Manager) on 01506 652 312.

Moore House

Project update: Grundtvig Learning Partnership (MobAd). Creating the MobAd Manual.

On 12 January, we welcomed our European partners from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Lithuania, and Poland to a meeting of the Grundtvig Learning Partnership Project (MobAd), held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Unfortunately on this occasion our colleagues from Romania were unable to join us.

The partnership is an EU-funded Grundtvig Project called ‘Mobility Advising: – a way to stimulate motivation for Mobility among adult learners’. This was our fifth such meeting, with two further meetings scheduled for March in Romania and June in Cyprus.

Our meetings this time revolved around the development of the course Manual for a new skill-set to be offered to those already helping individuals make career choices or simply wanting to look at their options for further work experience or training. When people do this outside their own countries, the practice is known in Euro-speak as a ‘mobility’. We want to encourage Careers Advisors to become more informed about such opportunities by taking a specific course in Mobility Advising. Results from a survey which we carried out demonstrate the greatest need for such knowledge and skills is required right here in the UK, where the word ‘mobility’ is usually preceded by ‘shop’ or followed by ‘scooter’.

The MobAd Manual will in fact be the core product of the learning partnership. There will be four sections: “Information – Motivation – Organisation – Assessment and Evaluation” – with each chapter giving answers to frequently asked questions, such as:

  • How do I become a Mobility Adviser?
  • How do I successfully motivate people to help overcome any barriers they might have?
  • How do I evaluate the mobility process, and
  • How do I monitor the progress of the individual’s mobility?

We also spent time together taking a guided tour of historic Newcastle and enjoying a tasty social dinner in a city centre restaurant. Looking forward to meeting again in Iasi, Romania.