This post was originally published on Plan Academy and written by Pedrito Sandy M. Fortuna, Regional CCCD Specialist, Plan International in Asia Region.
I have been facilitating and co-facilitating, both online and blended face-to-face, one of the Plan Academy’s flagship modules on Introduction to Child Centered Community Development. Although the list of things I have learned over the past three years can go on and on, there are three important lessons that stand out when looking at Plan’s development approach.
One course design does not fit all. While an initial design can be useful in providing the framework for learning, it is a big mistake if we don’t adapt it to the specific needs of the learners and their positions in the organization. We start with one design template which we can modify depending on the country’s context, expectations from the managers and learners and their job profile. Focusing on the participants means making some tweaks on the media and methods of training. It is important to harness the talents of the participants regardless of their position in the organization. Don’t assume that only program specialists know CCCD better than the rest of the staff!
2. Tying the course to their job role
Questions like – “I don’t work in programs how can I apply CCCD?” or “I don’t have experience with children and communities and it will be difficult to apply CCCD” are frequent challenges for some staff, especially those who work under the operations department. These are very valid concerns. The training should aim to help learners realize that CCCD is not about programs – CCCD is about how Plan staff and partners should treat children, families, community people and partners. From the reflections of participants in the operations team, they understand how it’s about respect; it’s about protecting children. It involves ensuring that the vehicle we are renting should be safe for those children traveling to the town and that partners that we are working with knows Plan as an organization that respects and protects children. It’s about being aware of who we are as an organization. Giving participants a chance to reflect on their role in the organization with their managers was appreciated highly by the participants. Often, managers may forget to ask key questions like “how was your training? Do you need any support to make it easier for you?”
3. Leadership is the key
Learners have the power to create change. In the last three years that I have been facilitating CCCD face-to-face or online, I heard stories ranging from great to not so great from learners. Most are on “Cloud 9” after the training because they’ve learned new things and are keen to reflect more in their day-to-day role. But what struck me most are the different relationships between participants and their managers, in terms of learning and improving performance. Let me quote some of the interesting feedback from participants from both sides.
“Knowing that your leader is one of the facilitators make you feel proud and happy because you know that s/he is there to support learning and help improve performance.”
“I am hesitant to access my online course while in the office because my manager once told me I should be doing this after office hours because I need to finish the assigned task for the day first.”
“The feedback session I had with my line manager after the training was very helpful. I learned how to apply what I have learned in my job.”
“For the nth time I was not able to have a meeting with my with line manager to discuss what I have learned from the training. S/he said s/he is always busy. I will not be able to receive my certificate on time.”
We can see the potential positive or negative influence managers can have on their participants.