Friday, March 23, 2012

Vocational Training

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Explain how communication can be

improved in your organisation.

Sam Beaven


The organisation I work for is Coleg Glan Hafren. The college formally known as Rumney Tech has been an establishment offering training for post 16 candidates for many years.

The college is spread over three sites, the main site being in Trowbridge Cardiff, the other two are located near the town centre. As you can imagine communication between these sites is a major factor of the smooth running of the college. Even though we have three sites it is very rare that students have two attend courses at more than one venue, but it is often the case that tutors/ trainers do.

The college caters for approx. ,000 full and part time students, during any one year. It offers a range of courses and apprenticeships to all age groups across the board. Mission statement-‘To provide quality education and training at locations, times and in ways which are convenient and appropriate’ (Coleg Glan Hafren, 00, p )


Definition ‘an act of communicating that which is communicated intercourse correspondence a means of communicating, means of giving information.’(Chambers- Cambridge, 18, p14)

As far as communications is concerned, the college prides itself on contact between students and tutors/trainers. Initially any potential student is invited to what is called an open evening /day, so that they can be introduced to people that are concerned with the course they wish to take.

On the first day that a new student attends their course, he or she is presented with a student diary and handbook. The contents of which outline college procedures, locations and policies. A brief discussion concerning these points and other topics within this handbook takes place during the induction lesson (1st scheduled lesson).

This initial communication between students and tutors is tried and tested and works for all parties concerned.

It is unfortunate that, whilst student- tutor/ trainer communications are very good, it is often the case that communication between tutor and Course co-ordinator and or trainer is very poor, as are inter-departmental communications.

All new members of staff are issued with a college booklet outlining policies and procedures. They are also given a departmental handbook, underlining the department role and expectations of the role they are about to commence. This is all well and good, but the fact remains that the information is set out in the booklets, but often not explained and the new employee is left to interoperate the meaning for him or herself. This (in my opinion) is where one of the many communication problems stems from. Good communication should be set up as soon as possible and not taken as read.


In September 00 the college appointed a new principle, he in turn recognised that there was indeed a problem with communication between the people involved in training/ tutoring the students. Under his direction, all staff members meet once a month to be informed of any new policies or procedures, which may be implemented in the near future. It is at these meetings that any new members of staff are introduced and welcomed to the college. As often happens in a large establishment people working for the same employer do not often know people that they work with unless they work within the same department, these meetings give an opportunity to put a face to the name.

Being a relatively new idea of these meetings have yet to have any great impact on communications between staff, but it is my opinion that the meetings will go a long way towards improvement.

The problem of communication in a large organisation, in the broader sense, is being addressed, by way of these meetings, but it is unfortunately that departmental communication is still so poor.

As is often the case, in a large organisation, the problem of communication has been looked at in the broader sense and not at the core of the problem.

Within the college we do indeed, have an internal telephone system and a very efficient postal service. So why are these services not being utilised to improve communications?

A good question and one that I feel must be addressed to combat the problem. Let staff know that these systems exist and that they are accessible to all.

It is the simplicities in life that always make the big difference in the long run, but as is often the case, the small things are often overlooked in the short term.

It is simple enough to take down a message for someone and pass that message on to the person concerned. These two steps do not take much effort but often where communication goes wrong. Simply keeping a pen or pencil and some paper next to the phone can go a long way towards improving communication.

That is one way of looking at the problem of communication, the other of course is communication between people within the department. Often where people work closely on a day-to-day basis, there can be friction and small problems can easily be turned into large problems. It is really down to the person in charge of the Department to combat the small problems before they become large problems. This can be achieved with a little time and effort spent observing situations and the way people are behaving. The favourite excuse for not doing this is ‘I dont have time’. The case for good communication between department members much out ways the problem of time, as time can be saved, when good working relations are in place. If a department is running smoothly it will save time and therefore be a positive factor towards departmental performance. The smooth running of any department is based on good communication and a simple 5 or 10 minute meeting once a week can improve communications.

Making sure that every staff member within a department feels that they are important to that department goes a long way towards motivation and better performance. Motivation can also lead to many improvements including better communications, productivity and time management. There is no harm in letting someone no that they have done a good job, or praising the positive points within a job not so well done, and suggesting improvements without humiliation. There are ways and means of criticising someone that will make him or her feel they want to do a better job next time (i.e. good communication and motivation).

Within a team, every member has to feel that they are a part of that team, however small a part they may play. With good communication between team members you are assured that only positive results would be the reward. The person who opens the letters is just as important as the person who needs to act upon their contents. If this is taken into consideration the next time an important message is left, it will be given to the person concerned with much less delay if that person is told that the role they are playing is a vital part of the smooth running of the Department. Unfortunately this does not often happen within departments, and in many cases is the root of communication problems.


Taking all above points into consideration, it is my opinion that until communications are improved, with in the different departments, there will always be the problem of staff, time, resource management. The simple idea of making sure that there is a way of taking a message to hand can go a long way towards improvement. The benefits of good staff communication and motivation are numerous and can be achieved in a very simple ways. These ways need not be time-consuming or expensive. The simple introduction of staff meetings can go long way toward improvement in communication, while not disrupting the day-to-day running of the Department. Giving every member of the team an understanding in to why their role is important and what contribution they make can also make a real difference in communication.

Improvements in communication could mean the difference between knowing where someone is supposed to be and where they actually are. Without going into too many details, this information could be vital not only for the person concerned but also to others i.e. in the case of fire.

Would it not be nice to know, if you were unable to be somewhere, you are confident in the knowledge that someone would pass on any relevant information needed. This may take the form of somebody writing down a phone number for you or rearranging an important meeting that you are unable to attend with little inconvenience or embarrassment to either party involved.

As is so often the case today, the importance of communication is often overlooked in todays climate in favour of meeting targets and being cost-effective. It has been proven (in my experience) that if communication is good within any establishment or department, meeting targets and being cost-effective becomes much more of a reality, because your workforce is working together in a much better way. To implement small but effective changes can lead not, only to a positive working environment, but in the long run a more efficient working team.

Finally it is most important that you relate how important communication is to all aspects of whatever you are doing. It is helpful to relate this to something that all levels can relate to- how many times have you said ‘I wish I’d known that’, or ‘why didn’t you tell me’.

Communication- the key to success in more ways than one.


1.Chambers Cambridge Concise Dictionary. p. 14 (18)

. Coleg Glan Hafren Student Diary Handbook p. (00)

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