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Development Centres


I have been asked to look into Development Centers we currently hold one once a year but we are looking into revamping it. I have been tasked with this and wondered if anyone had any ideas or experiences of what works and any suggestions?

Ruth Gobey

5 Responses

  1. some suggestions
    Hi Ruth – it would be interesting to find out the aims of the development centres that you run because that could have a huge influence over the best way to revamp them. In my experience, the ‘catch-all’ type development centres that aim to (generally) develop ‘managment skills’ ,for example, don’t work. Often, this is because people are made to go on them as it’s expected and they will look ‘bad’ if they don’t attend.

    When I have attended centres like that, some people are really up for it, some are made to go & aren’t really interested and some don’t even think that they need developing in the first place.

    So, my first piece of advice, is to have some really clear aims and to link it into some specific outcomes rather than just an offer of general development of skills.

    The second thing I would suggest is to get previous participants actiively involved – either by giving you post-centre feedback – what worked, what didn’t etc (as long as you show that you are making changes based on real feedback). Better still would be to get them to actually facilitate sessions themselves or to just be around to support/mentor the current attendees.

    I think the credibility of the centres could be boosted by having previous participants openly endorsing tthem.

    good luck

  2. development centres
    I would only add that you must be sure that the purpose and the desired outcomes are fully explored, explicit and transparent. (and followed up)
    *What is the investment in a development centre meant realistically to deliver to the designers and to the participants.?
    *To what extent did the previous version do this?
    *What other methods might have the same outcome?

    It’s important to start with a clear open mind, focussing on what’s desired short term and longterm. There may be other organisational things that need to be taken into account. Then after that clarity is developed, think about the Development Centre itself.

    It’s probably important, too, to talk in depth to the people who are thinking of revamping it, and exploring why it it seen to need revamping.

    My main experience with development centres is in picking up the pieces after them, and encouraging the participants to commit themselves to a personal development programme with learning sets – so I have a slightly jaundiced view. But the above comments come from observation and from participants’ comments.

    One more thing – in terms of Learning Styles, many Development
    Centres are biassed against effective people with a reflector preference, and towards Activists.

  3. Role-play
    Hi Ruth

    We do some successful work with assessment and development centres in the UK. We specialise in the area of Development. We use role-play for learning through experience, through a process of application, feedback,

    Key elements:
    – Specifically designed scenarios
    – Continuity
    – Consistency for all participants
    – Constructive and incisive feedback
    – Developmental workshops

    Please have a look at our website and refer to ‘role-play’. This may give you some ideas or you can alternatively give me a call on 0208 968 0421.

    Many thanks
    Lindsay Maclean

  4. One to one follow up is essential
    If the development centre process is well planned with clear objectives, including immediate one to one follow up, it can work very well.

    Planning a fast follow up is really important. I have had experience with several very different organisations managing their development centre consequences.

    Participants can be devastated by any negative feedback they received at their Development Centre. They will often conceal their hurt feelings as “everyone else seemed to enjoy it”.

    If this is not addressed quickly it can have a very negative impact on both the individual and on the staff they manage.

    One to one coaching follow up is often very effective. It helps the individual participant reflect and re-focus on the positive. If coaching is seen as a standby in case things go wrong, it may be too late.


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