Monday, 18 October 2010

Listing Success

Herein lies our quandary - how should we define success?? In the 8 months that the scheme has been running we have had 27 people come to us. Throughout this time with us, the questions we ask ourselves are "Are we helping them?" and "Have we been successful?".  In order to try and answer these questions, we asked a young man called Rhys, who has been with us on the scheme since March, to write a list of all the things he has learnt during that time. This is the list he made:

What I have done
1. Sorting out cables and wires
2. Cleaning CRT’s
3. Cleaning TFT’s
4. Sorting out many Printer ink cartridges
5. Collecting data on items e.g. No. Of Printers
6. Compiling tally data into an Excel spreadsheet
7. Logging in number of Printer ink cartridges on to a spreadsheet
8. Cleaning the sink, albeit not very well
9. Cleaning the tea cups, albeit not too well
10. Grading CRT’s
11. Testing and Grading TFT’s
12. Packing TFT’s
13. Logging in of the TFT test data
14. Maintaining the spreadsheet data and keeping it up to date
15. Dismantling Computers
16. Testing out items for Ebay sales
17. Learning to read Voltage
18. Reading and sorting voltages on AC Adaptors
19. Removing used ink cartridges from printers
20. Sweeping the floor
21. Dismantling Laptops
22. Dismantling Servers
23. Dismantling Miscellanea
24. Learning to use tools
25. Keeping my tool box sorted out
26. Cutting Cables
27. Sorting and separating Telephones
28. Finding items to list
29. Correct lifting technique
30. Differentiating different types of circuit boards
31. Making and Printing labels
32. Labelling Pallets
33. Learning to pack boxes
34. Learning to tie a knot, albeit not too well
35. Deciding whether an item is of no use for recycling
36. Recycling
37. Timing my breaks
38. Acclimatising to the use of a bus
39. Creating a new routine
40. Becoming confident enough to come here alone
41. Learning the proportion of my food I should eat during different times of the day
42. Clocking in and out
43. Learning safety precautions
44. Learning how to use the back shutter
45. Learning how to open boxes safely and correctly
46. Removing batteries from Motherboards
47. Learning to use a packing knife
48. Learning to differentiate between different types of cables
49. Being able to eat in front of other people
50. Being able to tell the size of Hard Drive
51. Learning the internal components of a computer
52. Learning to use the tracker pad on a laptop
53. Learning the internal difference between a laptop and a computer
54. Separating different grades of recyclable items
55. Learning how to connect peripherals to a computer
56. Using the plastic wrap

Rhys then took this list and built it into a competency matrix that we will use to assess the progress of all trainees in the future. Many of the skills Rhys listed were exactly what I would have listed if I had done this list. Then I re-read it, in particular numbers 39. Creating a new routine, 40. Becoming confident enough to come here alone, 41. Learning the proportion of my food I should eat during different times of the day and 49. Being able to eat in front of other people. I was flabbergasted! These have nothing to do with what we apparently train them in but to Rhys were massive turning points. Rhys realised and, for us, underlined the importance of 'soft' social skills in the workplace. 'Soft' my arse!! Many of the trainees that come to us are thwarted by these so-called 'soft' skills! There are many and various reasons for this; having no experience of a workplace, anxiety issues, background and conditions such as autism. When the trainees come to us, we are not given any indication or information on their ability to socialise and as such, is something we learn as we get to know each person. This can take a long time as trust is built and confidence developed, between the trainees and staff. With most, some level of connection is made. This is often the point in the placement where astounding leaps forward are made.

So, bearing this in mind, how do you define success? Rhys wrote his list a few weeks before he finished here with us, but If he had written it on his last day, he would have also included 57. Making a cup of tea for myself in front of other people for the first time.

Now, go and make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and have a think!