Case study: Sierra Rutile mine, Mobimbi, Sierra Leone
In November 2017, we delivered a training programme to build the management and leadership capabilities of the staff of the Sierra Rutile Limited. The training was developed for 50 junior managers based in Mobimbi, a remote location in Southern Sierra Leone.
The programme was designed to build greater self-reliance among a cadre of 50 junior managers. Their job roles included Safety Advisers, Chemists and Transport Managers. Employees reporting to these managers range from four to up to 100. The five-day programme was led by Ann Hall, a highly experienced management and leadership trainer, and was split over two weeks with the participants divided into two groups.
In December 2016, Sierra Rutile Limited was acquired by Iluka Resources. The goal of the training was to accelerate employees’ self-sufficiency and give front-line managers the confidence to deal with their team’s challenges instead of escalating everything to more senior managers or Human Resources. Iluka’s COO attended the first day of training to show the company’s commitment to empowering front-line managers to make decisions on people matters efficiently and effectively.
The learning objectives for the course were identified by Sierra Rutile Limited, however, participants outlined and reviewed their objectives daily through the training process. This approach allowed line managers to identify the key challenges they face at work. One of the main challenges that front-line managers wanted to overcome was the company culture of referring everything to the Human Resources Department, which was outlined as a barrier to productivity. We tailored the course content to Sierra Rutile Limited’s specific policies and procedures and combined these with real-life examples, so that the classes could discuss common issues and work through them together. The training was highly practical and focused around issues that participants face daily.
The training objectives included:
- Identifying what makes an effective manager in the unique conditions of a remote mining operation
- Understanding leadership behaviours and preferred management styles
- Showing leadership when dealing with unpredictable and potentially dangerous situations
- Learning to hold difficult conversations and provide both positive and corrective feedback, especially on topics of personal safety
- Managing effectively during times of change, particularly in the transition of the acquisition by Iluka
- Managing minor issues confidently without needing to refer to HR
In the second week, the focus turned to how delegates would act differently on their return to work, based on what they had learned throughout the programme. Everyone created an action plan and individual development plan and were encouraged to think about what they had learned each day. The trainer recommended that the groups meet up at least once a month to discuss their progress after the training, to make sure that everything they learned was being implemented.
Everyone who attended the training also received our “Management Guide: Practical Toolkit & Reference for Supervisors” pocket booklet, which was designed especially for the staff at the Sierra Rutile Limited.
Participants told us that the programme resulted in a clear shift in thinking about behaviour around leadership and management.
Everyone who attended gave positive feedback and said that they believed the training would have a lasting impact on both their self-sufficiency and their workplace performance.
“A very good change, in terms of attitude and positive behaviour.”
George Lamin, Equipment Supervisor