Development of education and personnel go hand in hand


The curriculum overhaul within the Academy for Construction & Infrastructure meant more than just educational advancement for Avans University of Applied Sciences; it also entailed staff development. The objective was to empower employees, allowing them to gradually transition into roles within self-organizing teams.

"All energy on educational development? That wouldn't be right," says Hanneke van Bleek, deputy director of the academy. "The staff responsible for implementing the new curriculum and ensuring that the field remains engaged are just as important." At the academy, the development of education and personnel go hand in hand.

The management and HR quickly agreed that it shouldn't be 'top-down'. "We felt that we needed to empower the colleagues themselves," says Van Bleek. To achieve this, it was first necessary to determine which roles could be distinguished and which competencies were required. For this purpose, the TMA Method was used.


No obligation to share

Representatives from the group of teachers and educational support staff determined in advance which roles should be established and which competencies are needed for each of those roles. Then, all employees of the academy completed the TMA Talent Analysis, followed by a personal conversation about the results. This process revealed which roles suited each individual.

"A major value-added aspect of this process, in my opinion, is the positive approach of the analysis," says Bram van de Vinne, HR advisor for areas including Construction & Infrastructure, explaining the choice of this method. "The TMA strongly focuses on the drives and talents of employees. There are quite a few tools that focus on areas where someone scores lower. The TMA identifies pitfalls but focuses much more on strengths."

The TMA Talent Analysis provided insight into everyone's qualities. "In this way, they could see what energized them and where it leaked away," explains Van Bleek. The management decided not to mandate the sharing of the results. People may keep their results to themselves or share them with their team. "Of course, we would like to see everyone share the outcomes of the analysis with teammates, at least in terms of where their strengths lie. But above all, we want everyone to know their TMA."

With the buttocks exposed

To encourage openness around the TMA, Van Bleek and the rest of the management team chose to share their own results as well. "We wanted to show that it's not necessarily wrong if you score low on certain points, but that everything – high or low – is a talent. If you're not good at listening, you might be good at storytelling. Moreover, a team needs to be diverse; having only the same talents is not beneficial, but rather, you should seek what is complementary."

The fact that the management "bared it all" left an impression on employees. "I found it remarkable that they shared with us the areas where they complement each other, but also what their pitfalls are," says Lisje Schellen, teacher and training coordinator. "And that in front of 120 people." Schellen herself has no problem sharing her results with others. "I would even post it on Facebook, so to speak. It's not something to be ashamed of."


Match tasks with profile

Schellen is a strong advocate for talent development. "For me personally, I found it comforting and interesting to see through the talent analysis where my abilities lie and whether they match with what I do. But in my role as a training coordinator, I can also guide people better when I know where their strengths lie."

She would like to see more use of the information from the analysis reports. "It would be good if we, as an organization, better assess whether the tasks we assign them match their profile. But also, how we can assemble an ideal team. This is especially important if we aim for more self-directed teams. The TMA is not the holy grail in this regard, but it can be a guiding tool."

For Schellen herself, the analysis has been a reason to change her career. "Within our organization, there is a lot of room to express preferences. I did that. My TMA revealed that I have coaching skills, but I wasn't utilizing them. Eventually, alongside my work as a researcher, I started working as an interim training coordinator."

Important lessons

That someone dares and/or can take a new step thanks to the TMA Talent Analysis is a great result for Deputy Director Van Bleek, but not always necessary. "If people want to progress, we encourage them to talk to a coach or take a course. But it is especially important that they have a better understanding of where their strengths lie and where they can develop."

This is easier on an individual level than in the team process, knows HR advisor Van de Vinne, who is also a team coach. He has learned two important lessons from the process so far. "The first is that it's always customized: what works for one team doesn't necessarily work for another, or not at that moment. The second is that you need to create space for people to dare to share the insights they gain. Some people find it very daunting. But if you give them trust, they will come forward naturally."

Van Bleek already sees a movement emerging. "The biggest gain is that people are already sharing more with each other. This gives them energy, allowing them to steer the teams even better together. And perhaps that is our most important message: make sure you get energized!"

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