Focus: People Management - Coaching session with Stephen Bubb

Q: I've seen that some charities have the Investors in People standard. Is this really worth the effort?

A: It's true that this is not something they are going to give you for free with 10 tokens from a cornflakes packet. However, if you look around at good employers, you will see that they wear their Investors In People badges with pride. It is seen as a sign of an organisation that takes its people and their professional development seriously. Those CEOs I know who have the standard think it was worth it.

However, it's true that there is a bureaucracy involved and you will have to meet a rigorous assessment process.

You will have to satisfy 10 points in the standard, which are grouped under the broad headings of (a) developing strategies to improve organisational performance, (b) taking action to improve performance and (c) evaluating impact.

Indicators and evidence

Under the three broad standards are 10 indicators and under each of these there are evidence requirements - you will need to provide these to get the kitemark. It will mean, for example, that your staff will be asked to describe how they are involved in identifying their learning and development. So it's no good thinking you've got a smart new training policy (which you borrowed from someone else) and you will become an Investor in People.

Your top managers will have to be able to describe what skills they need from their teams and how they develop their people. You will need systems of appraisal and review, and to provide evidence of how you develop people over time.

Personally, I think it provides a good framework within which organisations can establish their training and development needs. It's rigorous because it makes organisations think about how development impacts on performance.

But frankly, if you haven't got some of the rudimentary building blocks in place, you will be wasting a lot of people's time by applying. You should have a look at the website to get more details of the standard (

Go for it

Surely we need to invest in our staff and volunteer development if we are to increase our sector's professionalism. So my answer is: yes, go for it.

One of my members who runs a hospice has recently been through the process.

She says it was a great discipline to have a framework to work towards and her staff felt a great pride in having external recognition of their professionalism. She also said, of course, that it was great evidence to patients and families that they were in the hands of well-trained, professional staff.

- Stephen Bubb is chief executive of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo). Send your questions to

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