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Digital leadership at PRP Training

After the pandemic caused a sudden shift to online learning, Clare Barley took the opportunity to reflect on how she was using digital in her leadership role.

As the director of PRP Training, a Pembrokeshire-based training provider, Clare works to deliver vocational training and work-based apprenticeships to learners across South and West Wales. As a part of B-wbl Consortium, PRP Training is part of a group of ten training providers who provide apprenticeships and traineeships across Wales.

The jump to online learning meant that Clare had to get to grips with digital platforms quickly and figure out how to help her staff give the best possible experience to learners, despite the barriers. After this initial rapid shift, however, Clare wanted to assess how she could implement digital across her organisation more strategically.

This is where the digital leaders programme came in, a course which empowers and gives participants the tools to manage and influence technologically-driven change in their organisations.

Evaluating communications platforms

Clare wanted the chance to further the strides her organisation had made in digital development with a certain focus on better facilitating efficient communication across teams.  

One of the main themes of the digital leaders programme is getting under the skin of your own organisation. Participants undertake a variety of collaborative sessions where they shared techniques and strategies that can use to help influence cultural change in their organisations.

Clare says:

“I needed to make sure my message as a leader in the organisation was being heard through a digital lens.”

She found analysing how she used communications platforms an especially useful element of the course. Clare describes how the evaluation revealed how she could better communicate with her staff through looking at how others viewed messages sent through different platforms.

“I wasn’t communicating in a way that was allowing them that time to prioritise.”

Through reviewing the intent and purpose of communications platforms, Clare was able to foreground the expectations of each platform. She led her team into making a distinction between the more casual messaging on teams, and the higher priority communication via email, creating a more structured and clear way of communicating digitally.

Practical tools and knowledge to boost your organisation

Of all the platforms and tools Clare experienced during the programme, the visual communications platform Miro particularly stood out as a good fit for her organisation.

She immediately saw its potential to engage learners and staff alike and facilitate digital interaction at PRP Training.

“I wanted to take that forward and invest in that platform, which is what we did, because we felt as a company we could really use this effectively, particularly across our management team in terms of goal setting.”

Clare wanted a space for staff to be able to set tasks and do strategic planning. They also now use Miro to bring to life their quality development plan.

“Historically it’s sat on a spreadsheet on excel, and it gets dusted off every few months, but now our plan is more accessible and collaborative. There’s more tasks, more interaction, and people can jump into it when they want to. And if someone does an update to it, I get that notification right away.”

Driving change through digital leadership

Clare says the programme gave her practical skills and knowledge without trying to change her own style of management. Rather, the programme helped her to make sure that all elements of leadership were translated through a digital lens.

She talks about the importance of those in leadership roles being open to digital and having it as a part of their organisation’s core values.

“We as individuals have to understand how to apply management skills in every different situation and in every different culture that’s coming up, and the current culture is that of the digital age.”

The programme emphasises how to channel digital leadership through different areas of your organisation.

“There was a session around values which was very interesting in terms of how other businesses approached company values, and how they embed them. And it's not something that's just written on a piece of paper. It's something that’s in everything they do.”

One of the things that came from this session was a review of PRP Training’s mission statement through a digital lens,

“As a company we realised that the mission statement was no longer fit for purpose in a digital age, and so those priorities changed.”

Transferable and lasting skills: the impact of the programme

Clare took the opportunity to share what she has learnt with the rest of her organisation, which the programme encouraged.

“The knowledge, the information, the resources were shared with us in a way that we could then share that with our employees.

“There's this wonderful train of information that gets carried down, so they are able to directly benefit from the things that I learnt.”

For example, Clare has replicated the way she was shown to use Microsoft Teams for her staff so they can all use the platform in same manner.

Her staff have also seen the benefit of completing Webinars, online classes and meetings: From yawn to yay! which explores the basic principles of live online delivery and how to encourage learner participation. This has helped with the implementation of good digital practice across PRP Training, giving learners the best possible online learning experience.

Clare shares her advice to those considering doing the programme:

“Just commit to it 110%, because you get so much out of it, as we are so many months on. And it's still being used, and I think it will be used for a long time, and it's not just being used by me. It's being used by the 20 odd staff I employ, but it's also being used by the 300 learners that they're working with day to day. That’s the type of course it is. It gives you transferable skills and it gives you lasting skills.”

Find out more about the digital leaders programme