Developing leadership and skills: Training continued online

We provided our entire staff with support in the use of digital devices through training, and most of the supervisors’ coaching moved online.

From March onwards, we carried out our training and coaching as either virtual or hybrid courses, the latter meaning that some participants attended in person while others studied remotely via Teams. We continued this approach the following autumn, in accordance with the recommendations.

The new approaches have worked technically quite well, and we have continuously learnt more about the opportunities that various devices can provide and ways of engaging and interacting. As work progresses, the work and the way we carry out our duties evolve.  

Some of those who have participated in numerous remote meetings, courses and training stated that they would also like to have face-to-face events. In fact, the participants in coaching organised face-to-face in August wanted to stop having remote meetings, despite the pandemic. However, others enjoyed remote coaching and remote work. 

In the spring, we ran several online courses titled When Leadership Moves Online as support for virtual supervisor work and management. Their themes included virtual encounters with and engagement of the staff, building trust and keeping in touch, virtual meeting procedures and management procedures. Further course themes included coping with remote work and occupational well-being. 

Furthermore, we have provided support for working remotely and using the related devices through Teams and Office 365 training.   

Plenty of training for supervisors

Good supervisory work and management promote the City’s effectiveness and high-quality municipal services. Through our supervisor training that spanned across the entire City, we promoted the City Strategy’s shared management principles, as well as the reformation of our operating culture.

The key in the development of leadership and supervisory work skills included our ethical principles, cornerstones of leadership and, in accordance with the latter, good supervisory practices and management,
self-improvement as a supervisor and a thorough understanding of the methods involved.

In addition to HR management, the training and coaching included management work in connection to objectives, customers, services, operations and finances.  

The target groups for the training included all potential immediate supervisors, their supervisors and the middle management.

We provided several forms of training: The ABC of Good Supervisor Work online course; OVI; Helsinki’s Supervisor Unit’s training; An Introduction to Supervisor Work; Treeni and Stadin Valmentajat training; and courses providing vocational qualifications, including the JET management and business management programme; and immediate supervisor’s LAT training. 

The fourth two-year EMBA coaching group for senior and middle management is currently running, and the fifth group began in October. Among other things, the coaching aims to promote the City Strategy’s goals and cooperation between the divisions.

The fifth group received 52 applications, and 25 applicants across all the divisions were accepted. 

In addition to the centralised coaching events, we carried out organisation-specific supervisory training and development projects, whose themes ranged from coaching leadership, enhancing supervisors’ role, and reforming work and cooperation methods. 

Some of the training took place face-to-face, but we also promoted city-wide goals through online courses on coaching leadership and an improved, customer-centric service provision. Other online course themes included the basics of accessibility.

The digitalisation programme continued 

Our digitalisation skills improved, thanks to our digitalisation programme.The leadership, supervisors and experts took part in events revolving around data, data utilisation and data analytics, in accordance with the data strategy.

For our financial management experts, we organised a Business Controller course, the main goal of which was to increase the participants’ skills in utilising data and analytics. The participants conducted a project in small groups, creating operating models for utilising data and data analytics in their own divisions or municipal enterprises. 

We have an enormous amount of data, but even more important than that is maintaining dialogue.

The AI and Us training programme provided online training on artificial intelligence throughout the year,while our the agile development programme (Kehmet) focused on developing a clear range of services and increasing online training on this theme. Furthermore, several information management courses helped participants improve their project management skills.

Different roles, shared themes

The work of supervisors varies dramatically. Their duties at construction sites differ from those at daycare centres, which in turn are distinct from senior homes.

However, the City wanted all of its roughly 2,000 supervisors to attend its shared Johdossa! supervisor event. This was the first such event, and due to the pandemic it was held online. 

‘One of the event’s purposes was to help supervisors understand each other’s work better,’ says Special Planning Officer Susanna Snellman from the City Executive Office.

Over the course of one morning in November, the participants had a long discussion about leadership and how their work has a lot in common regardless of the division or job title. Other important themes included cross-divisional cooperation, engaging others and the ability to implement decisions. 

The event received plenty of positive feedback. Among those who found the event useful was Varpu Sivonen from the Education Division.

‘Mutual interaction and reciprocity are key. We need to look at things from various angles if we truly want to improve our city. I would like to see more of these shared supervisor meetings,’ she wrote in her feedback about the live event.

Getting hearts to beat for Helsinki

The event involved many beneficial discussions that all the participants were able to comment on. Here are some excerpts from that morning’s discussions and comments:

‘We have an enormous amount of data, but even more important than that is maintaining dialogue. Data alone is not enough, and instead we need ideas resulting from this data. We must learn to ask the right questions across divisional boundaries, which will allow us to make better choices day by day. 

‘Our biggest duty is to get people’s hearts to beat for Helsinki. In the future, we will need an increasing number of people to be Helsinki fans, and our chances of achieving this are good, because more attention is being paid to meaningful and responsible approaches.’

People have the right to be heard, even if they do not all think the same way. Supervisors’ work also involves work on personal views. Information can be googled, but our thought processes develop through experiences and interaction with different people.

It is important that the City has talented employees, but equally or even more important is retaining that talent. People come to work for the City because they want to do something worthwhile, and if they decide to leave they often do so because of a boss.

The basic elements remain the same, year after year: children go to daycare or school. The biggest impact on our operating culture comes from the way that our supervisors carry out their duties – empowering others and encouraging them to achieve something wonderful.

Snellman would like to see the playfulness and excitement highlighted during the event to spread into the work teams. Johdossa! supervisor days will continue to be held online in the future for all supervisors.