R&I Deputy Manager Fiona Bray has achieved a distinction after completing her Front Line Leadership and Management Apprenticeship through NCA. The 12-month course provides leaders in their first line management role with the practical knowledge, abilities and confidence to become an effective and inclusive leader. Here she blogs about her experience and what she learnt.
“The NCA’s Front Line Leadership and Management Apprenticeship was rolled out in August 2021, aimed at leaders in their first line management role. As a new line manager at the time, I jumped at the opportunity to build and develop skills and confidence to enable me to become an effective leader. In particular I was eager to learn more about the intricacies of management in NCA, including conducting Return to Work interviews and Contribution Framework 2 (now My Time) conversations – for which I was given the opportunity to have mock conversations with the other apprentices.
During the course of the apprenticeship, I attended seminars which covered a range of topics including: supporting, managing and developing team members; planning and monitoring workloads and resources; building internal and external relationships; and resolving conflicts. Each topic taught me something new that I was able to apply to my job. I was also lucky to be in the first cohort and was able to help shape the sessions and provide feedback to make the course even better for the next cohort(s).
Following each seminar, I completed activities and written assessments which gave me practical knowledge and skills. Some activities were those I was already doing like 121 conversations, delegating a piece of work, and leading a team meeting and the benefit came from writing a reflection and obtaining feedback from colleagues which helped me improve for the next time. Other activities were new to me and I still use now: such as time management strategies like the Urgent & Important matrix, managing change using the ADKAR model, and developing better goals using the SMART mnemonic.
I had 20 per cent of my contracted time dedicated to the apprenticeship over the course of just over a year. It wasn’t always easy to commit a full day each week due to my workload, but with the invaluable support and flexibility from my manager and my tutor from the NCA Talent and OD team I was able to complete the programme successfully and to a high standard.
At the end of the apprenticeship, I used all the knowledge, behaviours, and skills I had developed to do an “end point assessment” with an external assessor, which involved a presentation which was based on one of the taught topics and a professional discussion which was based on my submitted evidence.
Doing the final assessment really showed me how I had gained in confidence, I would never have dreamed of doing a presentation 12 months before! I achieved so much over the year that I am really proud of: a distinction in the Level 3 apprenticeship qualification, a promotion within the team and huge sense of personal achievement. I would really encourage anyone who is new to line management and has the time, focus and flexibility in their workload to consider this apprenticeship.”