Infrastructure Construction

Client: Network Rail

Assignment: Partnering with ARUP supporting the Drainage and Lineside Advancement Programme (DLAP) with Network Rail

Embedding Competence Management Standard at Network Rail

The Problem

In the aftermath of the fatal derailment at Carmont in August 2020, Professor Lord Robert Mair led a task force to review Network Rail’s approaches to earthworks management. It recommended several ways in which Network Rail could improve safety and performance and better respond to weather risks across the rail network. This included the need for improvement in resourcing and competence standards across Drainage and Lineside maintenance teams.

The Competence Management Standard work package was set up as part of the Drainage and Lineside Advancement Programme to communicate and embed a new Competence Management Standard to support career progression and elevate the perception of activities and function.

The Solution

Working in partnership with Network Rail, Bourton focused on communicating and embedding a Competence Management Standard for Drainage and Lineside focusing on new professional competencies, to support individuals within Drainage and Lineside with clear career pathways that will enhance learning and career development.

What that work looked like
  • An organisation-wide survey informed the needs and preferences on training and communications. The work package then developed a comprehensive communications strategy enabling better delivery of key messages and information at local depot levels.
  • Designed, developed, and delivered over 20 briefings.
  • The design and creation of supporting communications tools using rich pictures and animations.
  • Stakeholder engagement with Regional Change Leads and members of the community at Drainage & Line side Annual Conference
  • Using feedback to improve and update the Competence Management Standard Index and supporting documents.
  • Developing and agreeing on Role profiles for each region onto uploaded them to the Network Rails Oracle system. The development of visual displays from dashboards on PowerBI to enable line managers and individuals in each region and the team to view the level of competence and gaps overall.

That work in more detail
  • Change and communication support played a vital role in ensuring the ongoing success and progress of activities, developing, and delivering briefings across operational teams. To articulate the need for change and ensure messages landed with the community we developed innovative methods of communication using rich pictures and videos.
  • We assessed change readiness and captured views against baseline measures, ensuring feedback informed the changes being made.
  • We were able to build strong, lasting relationships with operational teams, engaging with stakeholders through site visits and organisational governance forums.
  • Approaches were tailored, accommodating the needs and perceptions of different regions and stakeholders.
  • We ensured the changes were implemented and the reason for the change was understood – increasing adoption and acceptance.

The Benefits

The embedding of a new competence management standard provides the underlying structure to support career progression.  This elevated the perception of drainage and lineside activities, positively promoting the functions across the network rail community.

  • Enabling operational leaders to ensure the right people with the appropriate competence are managing risks. Reducing overall risk via applying additional diligence to ensure tasks that require specific competence are carried out by those with the appropriate training.
  • Stronger focus on professional competence to enhance performance and collaboration across teams. Application of specific core competencies to all roles. Implementation of a competence matrix allows staff to understand the requirements for each role.
  • Support to leaders and individuals enabling improved conversations about career development – ultimately providing more opportunities for development and learning.
 We delivered the following impact
  • Delivered a new and effective communications briefing process which was successfully received.
  • 77.7% of respondents agree with the statement

    “I liked the way the Competence Management Standard was briefed and communicated to me”.

  • 81.5% of respondents agree with the statement

    “Following the briefing I can see how the new Competence Management Standard will deliver benefits to Network Rail”.

  • There is clear training in place to meet gaps in professional competence – improved by 28.6%
  • My career development is supported within Drainage and Lineside – improved by 36.0%
  • Changes to Standards are communicated clearly and timely – improved by 32.3%

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What Network Rail said about us

Great briefings and really liked the introductory video!

The mixed briefing method with slides, video, and face-to-face (including via teams) is good.

We made tangible improvements to how views on how training, communications, and career development are supported within the community from the initial baseline measures.

Good format, hopefully to be rolled-out elsewhere.