Level 3 Assignment – Unit M4:01 Planning & Leading A Complex Team Activity
I am James Hyland, a 3rd year
Electrification & Plant maintenance Apprentice for Network Rail. I work at
the Rugby depot which is part of Bletchley Delivery Unit. In this maintenance
delivery unit (MDU) the role of the staff is to maintain the railway
infrastructure between the Watford Tunnel and Brinklow on the West Coast Main
Line and between Bedford and Bletchley on the Marston Vale Line.
There are a number of teams that specialise in
particular disciplines: Signals and Telecoms (S&T), Plant and Distribution
(P&D), P-way (Track), Overhead Lines (OHL) and the Tech Office. These teams
must co-operate and communicate with each other effectively in order to achieve
their own end results as well as the company’s.
In addition, a great deal of planning has to go
into the work we do on the railway. Each of the departments will have a
designated planner who uses IT resources to aid them and also liaises with
managers and engineers to create an efficient schedule of work.
Planning A Complex Team
Activity – Canyon Crossing
aim of my task was to transport 1L of water across a canyon within a specified
time. The objectives for this task were: To get the water to its required
destination in the required time, to ensure that the aim was delivered safely,
to brief the team so they know exactly what needs to be done, to give
step-by-step instructions on how I’d like the task to be done and finally
debrief the team to receive feedback on my performance and to give feedback to
the team so they know what they did well or not so well.
me, the purpose of doing this task is so I can raise my confidence for when I
lead a team in the future. In my workplace I hope to reach a team leader role
which will involve briefing a team each time we go on track or have to do an
out of the ordinary task set by the manager.
biggest resource I had to complete the task was my team. They were: Nathan
Logan-Smith, Luke Hill, Ben Houghton, Brooke Lawson, Lawrence Hawthorn, Matt
Grace, Richard Knight and Hafeez Khan. The other resources were: a long thin
rope, a long thick rope, a basket, a water container, two smaller ropes, a
mallet, a karabiner and 6 6ft wooden poles.
task involved some constraints. Most importantly there was a time constraint of
45 minutes which included the brief. In order for the task to be technically
completed, no water could be spilt from the container. From the start, 3 of the
wooden poles were on the opposite side of the canyon which also meant at least
1 of my team members were as well. Any of the team members sent over to the
other side could not be brought back until the end of the task and nor could I
send extra people later on. Therefore, I had to plan ahead how many people I
needed to start on the opposite side.
plan of action, first of all, involved splitting my team in two. I had decided
to have 4 people start on the other side of the canyon where 3 of the poles
were located (side B), with the remaining 4 and myself on the main side with
the rest of the equipment (side A). In short, the plan was to create a loop
using the two longest ropes, tie the karabiner to the thicker rope, attach the
basket to the karabiner, place the water container in the basket and finally,
with everyone involved, pull the rope tight and slowly move the rope round so
the basket moved toward side B. Before transporting the water over I was going
to test the smoothness of the system by transporting one of the small ropes
across which also forms part of the contingency plan. For a more detailed plan
see the planning sheets attached.
part of the plan, I have considered safety issues associated with working near
water, at height, with ropes and with heavy objects. Some of the risks mean the
team have to wear some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and/or
communications. PPE is a vital part of the safety ethos of Network Rail.
Network Rail have lifesaving rules so an objective for me is to establish this
ethos in my team. As an example, getting the ropes from one side to the other
involves throwing a mallet that’s attached to the rope. If this were to hit someone
it would cause serious injury so to get around this I instructed my team that
when the mallet is being thrown, I will shout a warning and we all stand behind
an exclusion zone. On the attached planning form there are other health and
safety risks or hazards which I have considered and how I will instruct my team
to deal with them.
Being able to communicate
information about the activity to my team
communicate the information clearly and efficiently, I used the Information,
Intention, Method, Administration, Communication, Health & Safety, Check
for any Questions and Skills briefing system (IIMACH?S). This covers all the
relevant points my team need to know to complete the task so I used it to
structure my brief. Within these headings I had told the team what they’re
doing, how they’re going to do it, who’s doing what, restrictions on the task,
communication methods, health and safety information, understanding of the task
and established who had any specific skills relevant for the task.
outlining the title and the aim of the task I moved on to the method of how the
team would complete it. During the planning phase I had drawn up some diagrams
to illustrate my idea in the hope this would give my team an insight into my
thinking. Whilst showing them the diagram I explained step-by-step what I
wanted to do to reinforce the method.
the method I explained all of the restrictions to them, a couple being safety
critical such as the boundary close to the edge of the canyon. The restriction
on not spilling any water directly links to completing the task successfully.
Another important restriction was the splitting up of resources (3 wooden
poles). This led me to split the team up. I decided to just split the team down
the middle how I saw them during the brief but I ensured that Brooke and Nathan
were on separate teams because of their skills in making knots with rope, a
vital element of the task. If the knots weren’t done sufficiently then we would
have wasted time later on.
beginning of the task there wasn’t much for the team on side B to do so I made
them aware of this in the brief. I had thought about appointing a team leader
but deemed this unnecessary due to the short distance between the two teams. I
also considered having a sole point of contact, a team member, between my side
and side B but felt since I was shouting the rest would hear just as well as
whoever I’d delegated. The final role I delegated was time keeper and this role
was given to Brooke on the day because he had a watch although it could have
been given to anyone.
not aware of any particular weaknesses of individual team members that would be
relevant to the task, only the knotting skills of Brooke and Nathan.
the brief I highlighted what I wanted my team to be aware of in the way of
health and safety. I think it’s good leaving this later on as it is then
fresher in people’s minds. While explaining where I wanted people to stand when
the mallet was being thrown, I used hand gestures and physically walked over to
where I thought was a safe distance. This leaves less room for ambiguity and
therefore less likely to cause an accident.
final step in the brief before sending people to their positions was checking
understanding and to see if anyone had any questions. No-one asked questions
but to ensure my team had a sound understanding of what we were about to
undertake I asked questions to people on the spot such as “how long have we got
for this task?” and “where do you stand while the mallet is being thrown?”. By
them giving me correct answers to these questions, I was happy that they
understood and sent the team to their positions to begin.
Being able to review my own
activity to a lead a team through a complex activity
the task was completed, I gathered the team for a debrief to gather their
feedback about me and the task. The team agreed the task was completed
successfully, which it was. Then they went on to say what they thought went
well. The team said that the delegation worked very well particularly as it was
with a contingency plan in mind. We finished well within the time limit set in
the brief. Everyone had a job to do come the end. In terms of my ability to
lead, they mentioned that I delegated from the beginning with a clear idea of
who I wanted where; I had planned the task in enough detail that everyone knew
what we were trying to do and the diagrams helped with this and that I listened
when someone had an idea that was better than my original plan.
team also gave their opinions on what didn’t go so well or what I could have
done better. They said that while the people on side A were busy, the people on
side B weren’t and I could have kept them more updated with what was going on
and I was quite quietly spoken at times. In the future I could try to speak a
bit louder and try to keep everyone in the loop about what’s going on with the
rest of the team. By doing that I can keep their focus and interest in the task
so that when I do need them, the task is at the front of their mind.
team said they learned that keeping the plan simple, but also detailed, can be
effective. The relative simplicity was highlighted because we hadn’t used all
of the resources available. They mentioned that point as something to recommend
to anyone attempting that task.
facilitator agreed with what my team had said in the way of feedback. He’d also
picked up on that it appeared to be well thought out, the use of diagrams was
helpful and the delegation of specific roles in view of a plan B was
potentially crucial so it was necessary to split up the two people with the
relevant skill just in case. As well as the quietly spoken and keeping people
updated points, my facilitator also mentioned I hadn’t gone into enough detail
on the way the basket was going be attached to the rope and the effect this may
have on the water.
the task, we had to divert away from the original plan of using the string tied
to the karabiner to tie to the thick rope and the basket to sit in the
karabiner. Instead the string was tied to two corners of the basket and that
karabiner attached to the basket’s handles and a loop that was made in the
thick rope. This was done stabilize the basket to reduce the risk of water
falling out. This was an idea propped by the members of the team on side A
which I decided was a better option.
facilitator suggested that in the future that I look more into the much finer
details of a plan such as what’s mentioned above as well as the things talked
about by my team. He agreed with what we learned through doing the task, that
if you keep it simple there’s less to go wrong and would also recommend that
concept to someone else attempting that task.
my team and facilitator, I thought we achieved the task and within the time
scale and worked very well as a group. I praised the team during and after the
task to keep up morale and motivation as described in Maslow’s Hiearchy of
was clear on their role to achieve the task. I felt like I had planned the task
well and had built in a plan B just in case. The original plan had involved a
test run of the loop and basket where a smaller rope would be transported in
case I decided we needed to make two tripods. However due to lack of time we
adapted the basket as talked about previously and put the water container in
the basket to complete the task. I think we stuck to the health and safety
requirements well throughout the task.
I agree with what I didn’t do so well during that task. I have always had a
quiet voice which sometimes means people don’t hear as clearly when they’re far
away. This can lead to misunderstandings and me having to repeat myself.
However, on this task there weren’t any. In hindsight I can see how me not
keeping half my team updated could have negatively affected their performance.
On a task on a much larger scale that has the potential to be a failure point.
A final aspect I thought could have been better was lack of concurrent
activity. Upon further reflection I realise there wasn’t a lot of need for it
unless we had to execute the plan B.
future I would go over my plan a few more times to ensure I’ve thought about
every detail and considered more eventualities. I am naturally quiet so I’m
unable to do a lot about that however I can try to sound more confident and
assertive in my decisions to compensate. If I feel volume will be an issue I
could introduce an alternative communication method such as radios.
than learn, I have a greater appreciation for simplicity in tasks. I have
proven that not all the equipment is needed to complete the task. I have
learned that I can have more confidence in the future because I have succeeded
in leading a team.
would recommend anyone else to continue going over details of the plan over and
over again to try and iron out more potential realistic problems. For the
future I want to continue using the IIMAC structure, the 6 functions of
leadership (define the aim, planning, briefing, executing the plan, evaluating
and communicating) and I have set these four goals to continue my development
as a leader:
Feel more comfortable during
the brief. I will measure the progress by noticing a difference in the way I
deliver a brief e.g. less stammering. I would require to be delegated tasks by
my manager. This will give the team more confidence in me as a leader. This is
an on going goal because I can continue to improve.
To look through the details of
plans more. I can measure how far I’ve come when if a problem is highlighted I
will have some sort of solution to it. To help me complete this I would require
time and perhaps ask other opinions about what they think. Fewer mistakes will
be made and could save time if something goes wrong. I’d like to get to a good
standard of this within 3 years when I might have taken on some bigger tasks.
Speak up when I have an idea.
I can measure this by noticing that my ideas or elements of my ideas get used
in solutions. I would require to be involved in team tasks as a member or as a
leader. My idea may create a solution to a problem or inspire a solution from
someone else. I’d like to see an improvement within 6 months.
Communicate better with all
sub teams that I create. I’ll know I’m making progress if I can see more
engagement in the task even when they’re not directly involved. I don’t require
any resources except a team to lead. It helps to motivate a team when they feel
an integral part of the task. I would like to have improved within 2 years.
IIMAC Briefing Module
Network Rail 10 Life Saving
6 Functions Of Leadership
Maslows Hiearchy of Needs