Internally, VBNK is engaged in a continual process of improving its own quality assurance systems and in critically self-assessing its own performance.
We re-confirmed ourselves that M&E are not just used for reporting but for adjustment, adaptation, improvement and innovation. We clarified our expectation and reflected on our commitment to self-renew and adapt. We have been emphasising how to effectively link together existing operational mechanisms along our journey towards self-renewal and adapting.
We have established a pattern where the PU Meetings focus on assessing the delivery of services, and staff clarify how well their work delivery matches the expected standards. This assessment, and sharing of information, concentrates on identifying evidence on where there has been compliance with our quality standards, as defined in the Annual Operation Plan, and where there are gaps. In this way the staff are analysing the results from our service delivery and they recognised where we have achieved results. This takes into account evidence on the design of service, the monitoring and evaluation of the service and the reporting and documentation upon completion of the service delivery.
The learning and agreements generated through the PU Meetings become the basis for our PQWG Meeting Agenda. This includes identifying issues to follow up and strengthen consistent application of the Design – Monitoring – Evaluation – (Reporting) Framework. The discussions in the meeting focuses on what we, at management and supervisory levels, have observed in staff performance and what we have done to influence consistent performance, and what action we have taken to close the gaps. The PQWG Meeting encourages us to have a bird’s eye view on what is going on in the organisation and to identify priorities. The PQWG is also the forum to review what has been taking place to support our intention to “adapt and renew”.
Learning Week has become a feature of VBNK’s organisational life. There are four 3-day learning weeks each year, once every three months. We decide on the schedule and themes during our annual planning. The objectives and themes are aligned with our strategic plan, and there is a connection between each of the four Learning Weeks. A pattern of Learning Week is (a) unit/team reflection, (b) coaching conversation on certain issues, (c) cross unit/team sharing, and (d) training or coaching (provided by internal expertise or external consultants) on important topics, such as, self-awareness and facilitation, authentic communication and coaching skills.
Due to workload and busyness, individuals and teams can all too easily become so engrossed in their own work that they forget to communicate and exchange experiences with each other. The learning weeks offer occasions to share experiences with colleagues and for colleagues to learn from one another. It gives opportunity for all staff to take part in a more systematic approach to cross unit/team learning, which encourages them to take greater responsibility for their own and each other’s learning. It allows the Team Leader to tie together the discussion with the issues s/he had discussed previously in the PQWG Meetings. Learning weeks also provide ongoing opportunities to develop more creative practice in the design, research and presentation of our work and projects, and enable staff to draw on a broad range of learning resources both internally and externally.
The DS meetings allow team leaders (TLs) to follow-up the performance and development of individual staff, in particular progress made by staff toward realising her/ his objectives set during the annual appraisal. Through the open dialogue conversation the TLs and staff touch up on issues we have been working on, such as projects design, managing for results and reporting. The DSs tied together objectives we stressed during PU meetings, PQWG meetings and Learning Weeks.
VBNK conducts an annual Impact Assessment (IA) study every year. The IA draws on various participatory tools (facilitated focus group discussions, most significant change stories and 1-1 in-depth interviews) with a diverse and representative mix of participants from VBNK’s programmes. This allowed us to test our assumptions about the delivery of selected services, the subsequent application of learning by participants, and evidence of change.
Instead of looking for outputs, which respondents are mostly comfortable speaking about and can recall easily, we will push ourselves to uncover outcomes. In this way the IA allows us to confirm the end-of-programme evaluations and to identify specific examples of the application of learning into the work environment. We also explore factors that help and hinder participants to learn and to apply their learning.