Sharpening role descriptions and a circular organisational structure

Our last blog looked at a different way to think about person-specifications, and this week we are looking at how you describe the role itself – the job description. We have two roles that we are recruiting to, Community Circle Connectors and a brand new role called the Practice Coach. We started by asking Neil how we could improve our description of the Community Circle Connectors role.

Involving existing post holders

 Neil: ‘For me the process of scoping the Job Description should involve an existing post-holder, if you have one, as it needs a personal ‘voice’ and has to stand out to suitable applicants. They need to think “Wow! This is me.”

We have an existing role description for Community Circle Connectors, and ‘Could this be you?’ so, following Neil’s advice, I asked Harriet, who is our Community Connector lead, to involve one of the existing post holders. She went back to Lesley, one of our newest Community Circle Connectors to see how we could improve it.

Lesley told us that the role description was largely a good reflection of the job she is doing.  However, she felt that we had missed two things that she thinks are very important for her role to be successful:  The need for local Community Mapping and the development of a Volunteer Recruitment Strategy that is tailored to the needs and characteristics of the local area.

We agreed that these are key elements of the role and wondered how we had missed them out!  They have now been added and this was added to the role description.

A new role – the Practice Coach

Our Practice Coach is a new role that has emerged from our learning with the Devon teams.

As we don’t have existing post holders to ask for help, I went to Jane Hart instead. The role is heavily influenced by her work on Modern Workforce Learning, and I actually quote her in the description of the role and why it is important.  I shared it with Jane and she thought it was ‘fabulous’ so I was sure I had the concepts right, but did it communicate it well?

Practice Coaches – Performance, Learning and Development

Why is this role important?

We are thinking creatively about how we support learning and development in Wellbeing Teams. Instead of working with a Learning and Development Professional, we want to try something different. We are fans of Jane Hart’s Modern Workplace Learning, and this role puts her principles and strategies into practice. She says,

“We need to create a continuous learning mindset – that is not one where everyone continuously takes courses – but one where everyone understands that they are constantly learning in everyday work and life – through both planned and unplanned activities – inside and outside of the organisation – on the Web and elsewhere”


What is the essence of the role?

The essence of the role is to enable and support workplace learning, and to be responsible for documenting and assuring the team’s performance in relation to the Care Certificate. The role means exposing people to new thinking and ideas, encouraging reflection and learning from what did and did not work out as expected. This is about improving performance and facilitating development, and it is NOT about providing courses or delivering training. The Practice Coach role is focussed on making sure people can deliver their best work, enabling people to find solutions to problems, and helping to facilitate the ability of the team to continually learn and innovate through communication and collaboration tools and practices.

What are the specific expectations for the role. What would you actually do?

1)    Organise and facilitate collaborative problem-solving sessions. We call them ‘scenario sessions’ where we look together at someone’s experience for example, in developing outcomes, and explore how we can get better at doing this, and create a record. If you can facilitate a small group, we can easily teach you our process.

2)    Be a Community Manager. This means helping people share and learn together on the online platform we use to communicate, called Slack. You do not need to have had any experience of this, we can help you learn.

3)    Offer a Virtual Learning Help Desk. Virtual means, you don’t invite people to sit behind a desk with you; you will use Facetime or similar and sometimes meet up in person. This means people get in touch for you to help them think about how to find the learning opportunities they need to solve a problem or improve their performance in an area, for example, end of life care. This is one way you support self-organised and self-managed learning.

4)    Support, document progress and evidence performance in relation to the expectations of the Care Certificate and our induction programme. You are our “assessor”. You enable people to get to competent and confirm this through assessment, and then help them problem-solve and continually improve in delivering safe, compassionate, person-centred care.

5)    Coach the Reporter/Recorder in the team, and other roles where people need support. We are not looking for someone with experience in coaching, we can support you with this.

6)    Quality improvement in relation to compliance with the Care Certificate and safe, compassionate, person-centred care. We have great quality assurance processes, supported by IT.  You will do regular, random checks to support the team in knowing that everything is as it should be, and what you have supported people to do well is happening in practice. Where it isn’t, you will work with the team to problem-solve, learn and improve. You don’t need experience to do this, we will help you learn.

7)    Be a role model. Show that you “walk the talk” and show people how you are continuously learning yourself, and most importantly what you are achieving because of you own continuous, deliberate learning to achieve your goals.

8)    Give Feedback and recognition for team members who demonstrate high ‘learnability’ that makes a difference to how they work, and for sharing this.

9)    Be part of a self-managed team, with the Wellbeing Leader, Community Circle Connectors and Team Coach. Work in partnership with the Team Coach to enable the team to work brilliantly. The Team Coach focuses on supporting the team in self-management, you support the team to deliver safe, compassionate, person-centred care. The coaches support each other.

10) As a member of the team you will take an active role in recruitment and selection, induction and probation, and sharing through social media as part of our community communication strategy. You will be asked to investigate any complaints and take these to action and shared learning.

I asked Neil for his reflections.

Neil: I really like this particularly the continuous references to how they will be supported – “we can help you learn”. Some thoughts to make it even better: could we use a diagram or visual which highlights how this role fits in to the bigger picture? I think the right candidates will love a graphical way of bringing this to life. Another consideration would be: will everyone reading this know what the Care Certificate is or have already understood the Wellbeing Team concept? I think we should show this to someone currently unaware of this and of social care and see what questions they ask.

But I can certainly see strong applicants reading this role description and thinking “This is me!”.

Good advice. We don’t have a traditional hierarchical triangular, ours is circular. I had not thought about including it in how we describe and recruit to the roles, but now I will.

The person and their family and circle (Community Circle) are in the middle, and they are supported by the next circle, the Wellbeing Team. The Wellbeing Team is supported by the next circle, the Wellbeing Support Team, and Co-production Partners, and the Practice Coach is part of this team. In other organisations this would be the management team. The Wellbeing Support Team in turn is supported by a national advisory team and Communities of Practice. This is the first version of our organisational structure, and now I need our designer Adam to develop it as something we can share with candidates.

Now that we have our ‘Could this be you?’ instead of person specifications, and clearer role descriptions, in our next blog we look at how to advertise these posts.


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