Walk the Walk

Jessica Cofer Blog

One of the best ways to gauge the knowledge, skills and abilities of a crew is to perform individual assessments to determine in which areas they may be strongest, and where there may be room for improvement. NATS offers Competency Assessments that are customized to meet our clients’ needs, and are customized to work with crews of all sizes, from a couple of arboriculture professionals to companies that number in the hundreds.

Competency or skills, what to assess? Our approach is to focus on competencies as they are the requirements for success on the job in broader, more inclusive terms than skills. Competencies look at the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) employees need to be successful in their jobs, thus providing a more comprehensive assessment of individuals and crews.

Once we have coordinated an assessment with a client, NATS’ team of trained assessors work one-on-one with those being evaluated to complete a pre-determined set of competencies customized for each of the disciplines our client has identified as needing to be assessed; the assessments may be completed through conversation and hands-on tasks. Essentially, the NATS-administered assessments assist employers in determining the current status of their workforce’s combined skillsets.

“With these assessments, we’re being proactive by identifying areas of improvement prior to an accident; we’re finding the gaps and developing a plan to fill the gap before somebody gets hurt,” says Vermont-based NATS Lead Instructor Matt Carruthers. “I really believe this is a good tool for our industry and progressing our industry in a proactive way instead of a reactive way.”

We talked with Matt for a more in-depth understanding of NATS’ Competency Assessments.

“Before we start every assessment, each day, we have an opening statement where we really stress over and over again that it’s not pass or fail; no one’s going to lose their job over this,” explains Matt. “This is really a tool for them [the arboriculture professional and the client] to learn and progress to be a better company, be a better tree worker and be a better person.

“You really don’t know where you need your training if you don’t know,” Matt continued. “This [the assessment] is a tool for us to identify where the strengths are, as well as room for improvement, and concentrate on the areas for improvement to uplift the company or organization to be better.”

Matt also said that sometimes the site or the professionals the NATS team is assessing don’t warrant hands-on tasks, but it is still the face-to-face conversation “so you still get to connect with that person.”

“There are definitely people who are nervous, but once we get into that conversation piece, that puts them to ease a little bit,” Matt says. “When you’re administering the assessments, for one you want to make the person feel comfortable.”

He went on to say that he thinks when people start using their hands, especially production arborists, “once they start being able to do the task, that usually puts them at ease. That’s their element and what they do everyday. That’s where they shine.”

Through the course of the assessments, Matt stresses that he is always open with the individual, and that they can look at the assessment and ask any questions right then and there. “I want to make sure that they understand.”

Once an assessment has been completed, the information recorded on paper is transferred onto a digital platform. From there, IT Director Dalton Lowe “does his magic” and customizes analytics to fit the client’s needs.

“You can see the entire company and break it down into groups or teams, and down to individuals,” Matt explains. “The analytics are user-friendly and easy to see, and right off the bat, you can see your strengths and room for improvement with a quick glance.”

NATS’s non-biased, third-party competency assessments go beyond a one and done service. Some clients undergo numerous assessments for a progressive approach to understanding their team’s competency levels. Other clients utilize assessments as a baseline to determine the needs of their team and to then develop a training program based on these needs.

“Company owners really care about their organizations and care about the people they work with,” says Matt.

To find out more about our Competency Assessments and how we can work with you, please email or call us: info@natstraining.com, 888-652-9116.