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Practical Action

PA Logo“Practical Action was founded by radical economist and philosopher Fritz Schumacher 50 years ago. Today, the staff and managers of Practical Action continue to ensure that Schumacher’s legacy lives on, working to use technology to challenge poverty in developing countries. Our vision is a world free of poverty and injustice in which technology is used to benefit all. Our staff and leaders across the group come to Practical Action to deliver today’s version of Fritz Schumacher’s dream and in doing so demonstrate their commitment to continuing the values of our founder.

We complement and reinforce this inherent commitment to the values of Practical Action with organisational narratives and processes that illustrate what we want to achieve and how we want to achieve it. Our organisational narrative (a statement of where we want to be, what we want to do and how we want to do it) was written after consulting across the organisation, finding out what mattered to people, what people had emotionally and intellectually invested in Practical Action.

Our People Management Process takes as one of its core elements, the behaviours that we believe illustrate our values: taking and giving inspiration in our work; being dynamic, seizing opportunities; connecting and collaborating and learning within and from our environment; being creative and focussed in what we do.

Our managers are expected to “walk the talk” and demonstrate these values in leading their team. Whilst we believe there is value in formal “classroom” training, we place great emphasis on the 70/20/10 learning principle, expecting staff and manager to learn by doing things a little bit differently, by exploring how they can demonstrate the values we discussed above and by learning from their colleagues and contacts across their working environment

We encourage our managers and leaders at all levels to make a habit of listening to their staff. We are particularly pleased with the section on the 2015 global staff survey that illustrates that most people feel well-managed. Globally, this is the third staff survey that we have run and we are pleased that each time the response rate has increased, suggesting an increased willingness of staff to share views with senior management.

We have three particularly good examples of employee engagement:

1. Global Groups

As part of our current strategy we formed our “Global Groups”. These groups comprise staff from across our International Offices, who share a professional expertise (e.g. Agriculture) who come together in virtual teams to ensure that our programme work is taken forward in the right direction. There are several of these groups, whose members contribute to them in addition to their “day jobs”. They have been really successful in taking our strategy forward and illustrate very clearly the extent to which Practical Action employees go above and beyond to make sure the work of the organisation is a success.

2. Regular Communication

We go to great effort to communicate global priorities and to highlight interesting developments in our work. The Chief Executive personally authors a weekly CEO e-mail update, and a weekly digest of updates from our offices across the globe is also collated and distributed to all staff. We hold short weekly all staff meetings in all offices, where colleagues update one another about notable activities and achievements. We also hold quarterly all staff video conferences led by the CEO and attended by all staff globally. These formal communication channels complement efforts to encourage informal communication and networking, for example through our global ‘coffee conversations’ which pair random people from across the organisation and provide a chance to get to know others that we don’t routinely work with.

3. Influencing for Advocacy

Our “Influencing for Advocacy” training programme is evidence that staff across the Group are engaged in wanting to learn how best to communicate to external stakeholders and funders the excellence of the work that we do. This is a learning and development intervention for staff across the Group to develop their advocacy and influencing skills and to be encouraged to disseminate our vision of a world free of poverty and injustice in which technology is used to benefit all.

We are very happy to have this recognised and are delighted to receive the award. We look forward to our next global staff survey in 2017 and another great result. Thanks to Agenda for great support and encouragement.”

John Lockett, Finance Director, Practical Action

01865 263720

Agenda Consulting, 27 Park End Street, Oxford. OX1 1HU
Company No: 4509427

Our partners

Association of Mental Health Providers AVM Charities HR Network CHS Alliance Hospice UK NCVO National Union of Students Voluntary Organisations Disability Group