Specifically focusing on these skills helps responders to anticipate potential risks and build a shared understanding of the incident with others involved. This can also help reduce misinterpretation in communications; help individuals fully engage with the decision-making process and strengthen the relationship between the leader and team. Focusing on these skills can also help to increase the well-being and emotional resilience of personnel.
How do we improve these skills?
Non-technical skills are universal and independent of technical expertise. This allows for training to address any environment, any incident and in response to all risks. Non-technical skills are the focus of the nine-unit training programme delivered to over 400 EA Tactical and Strategic Incident Management staff for the past two years.
To train these skills, it is important to first describe and explore the process behind how non-technical skills operate in an incident, whilst identifying common barriers or challenges in the implementation of these skills. For example, responders might become complacent when responding to the same incident on a frequent basis. Acknowledging barriers means actions can be taken to identify and address them.
Secondly, developing an exercise where these skills can be explored in isolation, away from plans and processes, helps to focus on incident personnel and their development. As these skills are universal and not dependent on technical expertise, training and exercising scenarios can be developed to address any environment, incident, and response to all risks. A technique we have frequently used is to exercise responders through a fictional incident that they have no experience in. By exercising incident staff away from a familiar environment, previous experience, preconceptions, and biases that may distract them from the use and development of these skills are removed.
To help focus on these skills further, it is essential to have assessment frameworks and capability standards in place to ensure observations from facilitators are not influenced by their own biases, preferences, and misinterpretations. These frameworks also allow incident responders to reflect on their skills and to personally prioritise their own development.