Chats by the printer, volunteering, networking or taking on extra roles in the office – if these informal work learning situations aren’t recognised as staff development, employers could be missing out.
Stephen McGlynn is a doctoral researcher in the Institute of Work Psychology (IWP) at Sheffield University Management School, and his innovative project, called ‘Keeping Track of your Development’, has led to a significant international prize-win and the opportunity to develop his idea.
Using a smart-device app as its platform, Stephen submitted his idea to the cut-e Theta Innovation Prize – run by global online assessment operators cut-e to recognise outstanding innovation contributing to a better fit between people and jobs at any point in the employee lifecycle. An independent jury, comprising renowned researchers and HR professionals from large companies, reviewed the international entries and were impressed by the high level and diversity of the projects submitted – finally deciding that Stephen should be awarded the prize of a trip to their annual conference, the opportunity to present his idea and £5,000.Stephen said of the win: “I visited Hamburg to attend the annual cut-e HR conference, and was able to present my idea to the 150-or-so delegates. I’m overwhelmed by the response to an idea I considered so simple!
“In short, the app records informal personal training developments that contribute to occupational competence. Users can analyse and document their professional development skills which is not only beneficial for the individual, but also for staff development, research and producing reliable data on the sustainability of a learning or development process.
“The idea sparked immense interest from the audience, whose questions ranged from ‘where can I buy it?’ to ‘can we collaborate?’. It was an amazing experience.”
Since returning from Hamburg, Stephen has been inundated with emails and Skype calls from global parties interested in collaborating, investing and being involved in the development of the app. With this in mind, he has a plan for going forward and hopes to use the funds from his prize-win to do so: “I am planning to make it – the interest I’ve had is phenomenal. A representative from a multinational retailer has been in touch, offering members of their team to join the focus groups and see what they can do with it.
“I’ve got a lot people to stay in contact with, so will get a group together – inviting people from across academia and professional sectors (practitioners) to get ideas together and produce a prototype. That’s what I’d like to do next, and see where we go from there.”
Speakers at the conference included HR representatives from companies such as easyJet, Tesco, O2 Telefonica and the Bank of Ireland. Ova Schulze, head of leadership assessments at Ericsson, said of Stephen’s idea: “There is still a need for straightforward tools to aid employees in driving their development. It’s good to see this combined with opportunities to research and document.”
Professor David Towner, head of global assessment at BP International, continued: “Within organisations we know that a lot of learning takes place outside of formal settings, but have no way of collecting the data of what has been learned and verifying this. The development of Stephen’s app will go some way to rectify this gap.”
Stephen, who has experience of building apps, believes that the prize win has been a success on a number of levels. Individuals he’s in touch with from the conference are also interested in his PhD research, and that of his colleagues at the IWP, Sheffield University Management School.
With an engaged audience ready and waiting for Stephen’s idea to come to fruition, we can’t wait to see what happens next.
Read about Stephen McGlynn’s idea in full at www.theta-award.com/theta-the-cut-e-innovation-award/shortlist/track-your-development-app and watch his pre-win video interviews here: www.theta-award.com/theta-the-cut-e-innovation-award/finalists.
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