Leap trains young people to help them manage conflict in their lives so that it doesn’t deteriorate into destructive behaviour such as violence, self-harming or low aspirations. They not only go on to communicate better, with a greater sense of self-direction but they also learn to confront conflict in their schools, prisons, families and our communities. We’ve lots of evidence about the powerful impact of our training like better attainment at school and reduced offending. Why is it so successful? One of our core strengths is the principles and values with which our excellent trainers approach the work.
We’ve had our current strategic plan since early 2011. One of its greatest benefits is to make ours an organisation in which our staff can make decisions swiftly and confidently. That’s been invaluable in a year in which we lost some staff, attracted new ones whilst striving to drive up our volume of training for young people and the professionals who work with them. This includes training in new, challenging settings such as pupil referral units.
All, however, is not perfect. For expediency’s sake we didn’t review the organisation’s values when we drew together the strategic plan. It wasn’t ideal, but we just didn’t have the time. What became apparent is that the powerful values that makes our training so successful aren’t always evident in the rest of our personnel’s (the trustees and the staff) approach to their work. In organisation-wide meetings sometimes there would be tension– frequently enough to let us know that there ‘was trouble at t’ mill’. The friction frustrated and interfered with our creativity.
Since then we have taken three steps so that we all have as common an understanding of our values and of their importance as we do about the objectives in our strategic plan.
Firstly we check at the start of our meetings how to best approach our work. Secondly we have invited our trainers, who are freelancers, to come together to discuss our stated values with our staff and have begun to talk about ‘personnel’ instead of making too strong a distinction between staff and trainers. Finally we are reviewing our brand and a key aspect of that is to check our values. We’ve only taken a few early steps, but the impact is palpable.
Our lesson - the values or principles behind our work are as important as what we want to achieve. They’re inseparable. And I suspect that’s true for all of our organisations.