Staff training and development pathways:
A case study on using the Chartered ABS professional development matrix



As Head of Operations and Administration in a business school in a university in the east of England, I have direct and indirect line management responsibility for a range of staff in distinct functional teams. I am responsible for their management, training and development, and ultimately supporting their progression.

I have used the Professional Development Matrix, produced by the Chartered ABS Professional Managers' Committee, as a tool to aid discussions about specific training and development needs, as well as assisting in plotting a career pathway for staff. I introduced our development matrix in discussions in December 2016 with staff at their mid-year reviews, during their 2016/17 appraisal year. They have engaged with discussions about their training and development and progression and have found the matrix a useful framework.

Case Study

For this case study of our use of the matrix for staff development purposes, the team member in question is a manager of the office of one of the senior management team. Their role includes diary management, coordination of staff recruitment and providing secretariat support for faculty committees. They also provide specific support to me, as Head of Operations and Administration, on specific ad hoc projects in the pursuit of faculty requirements. They have no line management responsibility.

The staff member had been in post for between 5-10 years, and, at this current stage of their career, was not looking for formal/structured courses to support their development, but was keen to build skills and competencies in areas that are not routinely required in their current role.

As part of the appraisal process, we discussed the matrix at length and highlighted two key business school areas of activities (delivering projects and driving organisational change) and relevant competencies (managing information, effective monitoring and control, leadership and team development). We agreed these areas of activities to: a) improve current skill set (delivering projects); and b) develop new skills (driving organisational change). They are areas that are of interest to the individual and are demonstrable within the delivery of the role. I tasked the staff member with exploring in-house training options and offered work shadowing opportunities, on the job training, increased scope of responsibility and regular coaching throughout the year. The key for both of us through this process was the confidence that the areas identified were both appropriate in terms of current role, i.e. becoming an expert, as well as of interest, i.e. developing new skills.

During the mid-year review in December 2017/18, we revisited the training that had been undertaken during the year, the impact of that training in terms of skills development, and the usefulness of those skills in their application and utilisation. The staff member has taken greater ownership of delivering current faculty operational projects and has been instrumental in developing a faculty culture change initiative, intended to improve the integration of all faculty staff. The performance of this staff member has been consistently good, with a demonstrable eagerness to learn and develop. They are now in a better position to take more ownership and responsibility in their role.

We are agreed that the matrix has provided a useful framework to help focus activity in areas that genuinely add value to the staff member and the school. The process so far has had additional benefits – building confidence, reinforcing the need to take responsibility for one’s development and taking advantage of unforeseen opportunities.


Dr Phillipa Towlson-Mulbregt

Head of Operations and Administration

Lord Ashcroft International Business School