Professional Development for Community Relations Personnel

Newmont Mining Corporation, Building Sustainable Futures with Communities: Professional Development Programme for Community Relations Personnel, 2006-07

Programme specifics:

  • A 15 day modular programme consisting of three consecutive training courses
  • Piloted in Elko, USA, and rolled out in Yanacocha, Peru, and Ahafo, Ghana
  • 10-25 participants per programme
  • International team of trainers drawn from the LEAD network, able to deliver programme in English Spanish
  • 2-3 trainers per module, trainers changed depending on course content and language requirements
  • Core content included leadership and sustainable development, systems thinking, ethical decision making, negotiation skills, and stakeholder engagement
  • Learning activities included site visits and real project delivery
  • Learning Resources included a 300 page workbook in both English and Spanish, and some e-learning

The Challenge

I led a three module programme on leadership and stakeholder engagement for Newmont Mining community relations teams in Ghana, Peru and the USA. One of the biggest challenges was to make the training content relevant to participants working in different countries and contexts.

Our Approach

Working closely with Newmont Mining, we designed a 15 day, three module programme that covered a wide range of leadership competencies including systems thinking, negotiation skills and stakeholder engagement. Having identified an international team of trainers, some of whom could work in both English and Spanish, we ran a trainer induction course in London, and then piloted the first module with the whole team in Elko, Nevada. Newmont Mining were highly accommodating during the pilot phase, and in that first week, if I am honest, we learned as much from them as they did from us. Because of this we were able to adapt and change the design and content of the modules during the subsequent roll out in Peru and Ghana.

Aligning the programme with the day to day work of the team

The biggest change was a shift from teaching leadership theory and concepts, to working in partnership with the community relations team. The team wanted to organise a large meeting with local stakeholders in Elko, Nevada. This gave us an opportunity to work with them on planning for the meeting, and also to share some facilitation tools and techniques. For me, this meeting was one of the highlights of the programme. It was well attended by a cross section of stakeholders from Elko, who obviously held the community relations team in high regard. I could see how the team had integrated many of our tools and techniques into their way of working. Hearing the positive reactions of the local people who attended the meeting was proof that the community relations team was having a positive impact.

We visited a family of ranchers who had worked the land for generations and understood the importance of managing their footprint. Spending time together with a family who lived in harmony with the land was an inspiring experience for the participants and the training team. The farm literally provided some common ground where we could get to know each other better. The tractor sheds and the fields were a safe meeting space where we could begin to connect by sharing our values and perspectives on sustainable development. The opportunity to notice what we had in common, rather than what separated us, helped to build trust from the ground up. This is why I believe site visits, excursions and even just a walk about town are an essential element of a training programme. Walking and talking is one of the best ways to make sense of what we are thinking and feeling. People need time and space to mull over what they are seeing and hearing in order to arrive at some conclusions. What do they remember? What can they learn from it? How can they apply what they have learned? These kind of peer2peer conversations help the learning to stick .