Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is one of the largest fire and rescue services in the country, consisting of 41 community fire stations, 2100 employees and in excess of 300 volunteers. GMFRS’ activities also extend beyond fighting fires and rescuing people: using the latest technology, they promote fire safety for the general public and work with the local communities to raise the awareness of public safety and the prevention of incidents.
Following a restructure of the service, GMFRS required Management and Leadership training to take the service’s management team to the next level in terms of their management and leadership capabilities. A very specific brief was developed to support the People Development Strategic Plan and the Corporate Safety Plan.
This brief was driven by the following aims:
- Maximise employee engagement in delivering the GMFRS objectives
- Develop and embed a high performance culture
- Maximise the talent available to GMFRS
- Maximise our Leadership and Management Capability
The Chief Fire Officer and Senior Corporate Leadership Team recognised that to deliver long term results, it was vital to have management and leadership teams in place who were forward thinking, resilient leaders, with a high level of commercial acumen. The Corporate Leadership team began looking at strategies to take management training to the next level.
In 2009, Training providers were invited to submit applications to scope a solution for leadership and management training. The aim was to develop all line managers across the entire service, within the first and middle tiers of the structure. To ensure training was in line with the culture and working practices, the service was specifically looking for a training provider who had the capability and flexibility to adapt to the constraints and challenges of training within a ‘Blue Light Service’.
Alongside this request was a requirement for a series of ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) training programmes, tailored to meet their particular needs that would complement the internal Continual Professional Development Policies and promotional gateway.
Following the evaluation and success of a pilot programme, delivered to 50 first line managers and 50 middle managers, Total Excellence Centre, an ILM Accredited Centre, secured the contract to develop a range of first line, middle and senior management development programmes. Along with the delivery of these programmes, Total Excellence Centre was also contracted to deliver a wide range of other learning and development initiatives.
All the programmes were designed to maximise the talent and capabilities of employees and thus ensure line managers were capable and confident to further develop their respective team members, whilst providing a robust and effective service to the communities of Greater Manchester.
Traditionally, GMFRS opted for purely classroom-based learning. With this style of learning, Total Excellence Centre were required to be flexible, considering scheduling demands and ultimately ensuring the training did not have a negative impact on crews who needed to be available for public safety and incidents at short notice.
Over time, the training programmes evolved into a blended learning approach, providing even more flexibility for the service and the delegates. This approach included a balance of workshops, online learning, 1:1 coaching, action learning sets, distance learning, tailored case studies, guest speakers and much more, ensuring every learning style was catered for and motivation and interaction was at its highest.
At the forefront of all the training programmes and initiatives, was the mission and purpose of GMFRS to ‘protect and improve the quality of life of the people in Greater Manchester’.
To date, Total Excellence Centre have developed and supported in excess of 250 uniformed and non-uniformed GMFRS employees, providing both accredited and nonaccredited learning and development options for the service. As a result of this, the collaborative approach, the relationships formed and knowledge developed regarding the intricacies of delivering training in the blue light sector, Total Excellence Centre has been recognised as contributing to the successful achievement of People Development Strategic Plan.
Suzanne said; “The breadth and depth of knowledge within our teams is higher than it has ever been. Teams are now being ‘proactively led’ to develop a service for the future, rather than being ‘managed’ to address day-to-day tasks. This has been achieved by working closely with Total Excellence Centre, a company who are credible, creative, solution focused and completely in tune with the culture, changes and challenges that affect our sector.
We have won a number of awards over the years they have worked with us, including; GMFRS being named Overall Winner of the British Quality Foundation Leadership Achievement Awards 2014. This award recognises outstanding performance in key areas of business activity, the Service’s approach to leadership and its sustained commitment to consulting, engaging and involving staff. Our approach to learning and development was hailed as “exemplary” and “outstanding” and scooped a 2013 North of England Excellence Award.
Our relationship continues to grow from strength to strength, with more innovative development projects in the pipeline, to ensure we as an organisation, are meeting the demands of the Greater Manchester communities and our employees continued development.”