This month’s topic is one which I know causes a lot of frustration to both candidates and assessors alike. How can you demonstrate your knowledge of the PQAs without resorting to buzz words?
There are still a great many misconceptions about the PQAs, one of the main ones being that it is enough to drop in key phrases in order to attract marks. But although this may show an awareness of the PQAs in general, it is very different from actually demonstrating these skills in practice. To do this you need to show that you are able to go beyond the phrases, and apply them through clear and specific action. But how can you do this?
A good start is to try to see the PQAs as usable, guidelines for behaviour rather than simply a list of ‘management-speak’ concepts which lack relevance to the Fire & Rescue Service. We have all seen company mission statements which talk about ‘creating a better future’ or ‘inspiring success’ and if you are anything like me, you might think that these sound bites are fairly bland and meaningless. But contrary to what you might think, the PQAs are actually very different from this. The PQAs were designed to be applied in practice, to improve how efficiently tasks are done, and how effectively relationships are managed.
Take for example the PQA ‘Commitment to Excellence’. How many of you have seen the way things are done in the workplace and think that it could be done better? By putting this PQA into practice, you will take steps to make those improvements rather than mentally grumbling about it every time it doesn’t work properly but doing nothing about it (I think we have all been there!). With ‘Working with Others’, think how much difference it makes to have colleagues who are supportive and helpful rather than un-cooperative or negative. What are the impacts on you and your team when dealing with someone like that?
In answer to the question on what are the assessors looking for, it’s quite simple. They are looking for you to DO not just SAY. So whether this is for an ADC exercise, interview or an application form, think about what you do- the distinct, observable actions you take which match the PQAs. If you start doing this now, evaluating your actions in relation to the PQAs in everything you do, by the time you come to your assessment, it will be second nature! You won’t need to rely on any buzz phrases- your actions will speak louder than words.