a 100 per cent pass rate and huge savings, the NEBS Team Leader Qualifications
scheme has got off to a flying start at GSK
Qaiser Ali is a proud man. Hanging next to his desk, beside the production lines
turning out toothpaste and mouthwash for pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline,
is a certificate.
This certificate represents the first formal qualification Ali has ever
achieved and was presented to him, along with 47 other employees from the company’s
Maidenhead site, after he recently completed an accredited course in team
GSK is also proud of its newly qualified team leaders. Between them they
have already saved the company a small fortune.
The production savings made as a direct result of the initiatives
implemented by the course graduates are 10 times the cost of sending them on
the training programme.
To date, GSK boasts a 100 per cent pass rate among its participants.
In a company the size of GSK, with its financial clout, it would be easy to
imagine that all its training programmes would be tailor-made and often
delivered and assessed in-house.
However, the team leader training undertaken by the Maidenhead staff forms
part of a package of accredited, nationally and internationally recognised
qualifications now being offered by Nebs Management, the awarding body for
general and specialist management qualifications.
So what motivates a multi-million pound organisation to look outside its own
training department for such qualifications for its workforce?
"It all revolves around the need to have something that’s recognised by
an independent body," explains Asif Khan, the training officer at GSK Maidenhead
who has overseen the introduction of the team leader courses.
"We are simply not interested in our people gaining certificates merely
for attending a course. This way they get a real qualification, that requires
assessment and provides them with transferable skills. The recognition and
independence of the qualification gives value to the training."
One major attraction of the Team Leader Award for GSK was the way in which
its curriculum and assessment methods dovetailed with the organisation’s own
business goals and development strategy. In 1994, a budget of £45m was approved
to transform the Maidenhead site into an "innovative centre of
At the same time, a strategy to reduce costs by £1m by the end of 2001 was
also set, with operational effectiveness being key to this strategy, mainly
focusing on manning levels across the production processes.
Each business centre at the site was assigned its own target. For example,
the packing and filling centre, from which the majority of the team leader
trainees were drawn, was given a cost reduction target of £500,000 by the end
Today the Maidenhead site is a state-of-the-art production facility,
providing the European markets with well-known oral healthcare products bearing
the Aquafresh, Macleans and Cordosyl trademarks. Production speed has almost
doubled, to achieve a production capacity now exceeding 500 million units a
According to site director Ole Rassmussen, "This success has only been
achieved through developing our people and processes in line with our site
vision and core values."
Khan adds, "Qualification-based training fits very nicely into our
people development plans and business focus. The Nebs programme is unique. It
assesses knowledge as it is taught, but it also requires participants to
undertake workplace assignments. In this way, training can be used to help
knock off business objectives."
Achieving business objectives has been a particular success point of the
team leader training at GSK. For the first time ever, a training programme has
delivered over 10 times its original investment – £500,000 per year on an
outlay of £50,000.
In addition to monetary savings, the enhanced team leaders – a newly
introduced title at GSK for those employees identified as having high potential
and capability – have taken on a number of responsibilities that previously
fell to their first line managers.
ETLs now conduct appraisals, which are linked to pay increases and personal
development plans, oversee the team’s performance management and development,
and are charged with the continuous improvement of their product lines.
The team leader development programme and the creation of the ETL role has
filled the huge gap which once existed between technician and team leader roles
and the next step up to first-line manager.
Another tangible benefit of the training has been the feedback assessment
report from the company’s successful bid to gain Investors in People
recognition (awarded in May this year). The report highlights the ETLs’
understanding of the business direction and the impact they are having on
achieving business goals.
Qaiser Ali was one of the ETLs to have undertaken the training. "I
thought the training would be a different experience and would help me in the
future," he recalls.
"I was very nervous about doing the formal presentation and relieved
when it was over, but when I saw the video of it, I realised I hadn’t done
badly. The training has made a lot of difference to my work. I communicate much
better now and I would love to go on and get more qualifications."
For newly-promoted ETL and technician Mark Nicholls, the team leader award
has spurred him to raise his career expectations.
"When I first came here two years ago, I was a technician with little
input into the operation, but I am much more involved now, my job is more
interesting as a result and I am looking forward to progressing up the ladder
here," says Nicholls, who is in line for promotion to a first-line manager
position as a result of the progress he has made since completing the team
leader training. "I feel GSK has put its faith in me," he says.
The qualifications have been incorporated into GSK’s internal Leadership Development
Programme and Enhanced Team Leader Programme. The contribution the training has
made to business performance at the Maidenhead site has not gone unnoticed in
other parts of the GlaxoSmithKline empire.
Another major site, the pharmaceutical manufacturing plant at GSK Worthing,
has decided to adopt the Maidenhead example into its production processes.
"From the employees’ point of view, they are getting a qualification
that has more currency, and hopefully it is recognised as an entry point to other
qualifications," says Sally Messenger, chief executive of NEBS Management,
explaining the popularity of the accredited team leader qualifications.
"Employers are increasingly interested in providing something that is a
national standard, which can help with such initiatives as IiP and quality
assurance programmes," she says.
Although many large organisations prefer to have training programmes
tailor-made to suit their processes and employment structure, such programmes
have the drawback of being little recognised beyond their own internal systems.
Other advantages of delivering accredited training to employees is that much
of the time, effort and expense of putting together a training programme has
already been done by someone else.
"It’s like outsourcing really," says Messenger. "We design
the qualification and that saves the employer time and money. But there are
still opportunities to tailor the qualifications. They are very work-related
and there is ample opportunity to apply the learning to their particular
"We anticipate a very wide audience for these qualifications. There are
so many people with the words ‘team leader’ in their title for whom this
training would be appropriate.
"Then there is the adult basic skills timebomb ticking away. Few have
the training required for today’s essential business skills, such as giving a
presentation," says Messenger.
How the awards scheme works
Introductory Team Leader Award
A short, flexible starter programme for all team workers, especially
those with leadership or co-ordinating responsibilities. The programme is based
– A short induction
– One core module (of three hours’ duration)
– Five further three-hour modules selected from the range
available in the full Team Leader Award, to meet the need to develop team
– Assessment includes a short-answer questionnaire and a brief
Team Leader Award
A comprehensive 60-hour programme for all team leaders.
Designed using a number of short learning modules, covering:
– Four core modules of three hours each, plus 15 further
three-hour modules selected from a wide range of topics
– Emphasis is on developing a sound knowledge base with the ability to apply
it in the workplace to produce significant performance improvements, as well as
developing personal effectiveness
– Assessment includes a short-answer questionnaire and a team
Level 2 S/NVQ in Team Leading
A competence-based programme for team leaders and co-ordinators
who are primarily concerned with motivating their team members and achieving
agreed outputs, with some limited authority for deploying resources.
The programme is based on:
– Four mandatory units designed to develop the core competences
needed by today’s team leaders
– Two optional units
– Assessment includes evidence (by portfolio and in the
workplace) demonstrating that the participant meets the requirements of the
standards at Level 2. Participants each have a personal adviser to assist with
preparation for assessment