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Updated 16 January 2023
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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/government-commercial-organisation/gcf-digital-development-programme-for-senior-commercial-professionals-html
Commercial staff play a crucial role in delivering the priorities of the government. Across central government, around £50 billion is spent each year buying goods and services, with the demand for public services growing more complex in needs and scale year by year. New service models are driven by changes in technology, lessons learnt, and rising public expectations. These often require commercial input and collaboration between multiple public organisations. When commercial staff with the right skills are involved at the right time in the right way, they can make a massive difference to the quality of the services and projects delivered by government.
Weaknesses in commercial practice have resulted in critical reports by the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee, as well as negative media headlines. There has never been a greater need for highly skilled and effective commercial staff who are able to plan, develop and manage high quality contracting arrangements in a complex environment, under the weight of public scrutiny, whilst providing the best value for money for taxpayers.
This means developing a world class commercial function. That is why strengthening commercial capability is one of the top three management priorities for the Civil Service, and why we established the Government Commercial Organisation (GCO).
We want all staff in the GCO to be able to deliver their best, and have therefore made a commitment to your on going learning and development.
That means if you are not yet fully accredited, or wish to prepare for accreditation at a more senior specialist level, we want to do all we can to help you. The multifaceted, world class digital Commercial Development Programme for Senior Commercial Professionals has been designed with current and emerging commercial and leadership challenges as its key drivers. The programme enables you to identify and explore your personal role in shaping the future of commercial in government, strengthen your commercial capability and drive culture change within the commercial profession.
But it’s about more than accreditation. Learning and development is a continuous, career-long commitment. It enables you to keep up with advances in your profession and continue to improve, actively contributing to our goal of having a world-class government commercial function that continues to consistently deliver high quality public services and projects.
Gareth Rhys Williams
Government Chief Commercial Officer
The commercial learning offer has been designed with input from Senior Commercial Specialists, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and professionals from the commercial profession to support individual development needs.
Co-created and endorsed by commercial leaders, SMEs and ADC Assessors
Aligned to the ADC and the People Standards for the Profession, but goes beyond this
The offer will evolve and grow based on feedback and needs that you have
Flexible opportunities to meet your individual needs
Leadership is not a destination and is never “finished” – we all have a responsibility to develop our skills on a regular basis
‘70/ 20/ 10’ approach: 70% learning on the job, 20% learning through peers, 10% formal learning
Refers to the on the job experience that enables you to put your knowledge into practice and embed learning; e.g. understanding the wider context of your team by attending strategic meetings, or reflecting on your development in your Personal Development Plan.
Refers to the learning from others by sharing knowledge and experience both formally and informally; e.g. Spotlight On… sessions, Red Team Reviews, Action Learning Sets, and attending networking events.
Refers to structured courses delivered in a classroom, as distance learning, or by e-learning; e.g. Technical training via the Government Commercial College, and the bespoke development workshops.
The digital programme has been created using insights from the Assessment and Development Centre (ADC), to meet the key development needs of senior commercial staff. Data from the ADC identified the areas of ‘leadership skills and capability’ and ‘business acumen and commercial judgement’ as key areas for further professional development. This bespoke programme is designed to target these themes with two core modules, which will be delivered using a series of interactive and practical webinars.
To access the programme you must be in the GCO, working at the level of the programme either substantively or on Temporary Promomtion (TP) and you must have been through the ADC process.
If you are not part of the GCO and would like more information about programme, please contact the GCF Partnerships team (see the ‘Useful Contacts’ section on page 15).
This programme supports senior commercial professionals to:
Instill a culture of excellent commercial leadership and behaviours in your teams and working environment
Hone your commercial acumen
Communicate with impact and confidence
Manage complexity while making the right decisions
Build resilience and understand how to maintain it under pressure
Enhance and maintain your network and professional development
I have found the training to be excellent? provided practical insight not just theory and it has clarified the terminology used in respect of the ADC? The facilitators have been great and have not baffled us with buzzwords.
The programme is:
Aligned to the ADC, and the People Standards for the profession, but goes beyond the ADC, helping you increase your impact, influence and confidence in different situations
Cohort based for maximum peer interaction with colleagues across government
Practical in focus so you can hone your skills and make the changes you want to see
Designed with flexibility to help you meet your goals
What you’ll get:
A series of interactive webinars, delivered by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
Learning through experts including Assessors and SMEs
Learning through your peers
Expert facilitation and coaching
Networking with members of the GCF senior leadership team
Theory and case studies
Opportunity to practise on your toughest development and leadership challenges
Feedback and support from SMEs, peers and coaches
Gain a view of what good looks like
Spotlight On .. sessions
Development Guidance to encourage reflection, help embed learning and set clear development goals.
Module 1 is a practical, interactive and reflective module, which has been designed to help you further your understanding of your leadership skills and capability strengths and development areas and plan how to meet your individual goals.
The programme is designed to build or reinforce habits that enhance your commercial leadership behaviours so that you can practice them in your day-to day professional life. The disciplined practice of these leadership habits will be a robust foundation for a future ADC. Whilst the module is aligned to the ADC, it is intended to go beyond this and support your wider development as a commercial professional.
Share the purpose of the programme and what you can expect from attending. Explore traits and drivers as a basis for deepening your understanding of who you are as a commercial leader.
Discuss importance of building resilience as a senior leader, yours and those you lead. Starts with enhancing self-awareness, especially in stressful situations, and exploring thinking patterns that can help or hinder our ability to be resilient.
Raise your ability to build relationships by engaging with empathy, listen with greater intensity, and harness the power of open questions to empower and develop others.
Practice coaching skills in small peer groups to work through real day-to-day challenges. Sessions supported by accredited coaches who provide constructive feedback to help you further build your coaching capability.
Explore leading and influencing to get the right commercial outcomes. Review strategies for influencing, and decision making when dealing with complexity.
The focus of this session is to deepen your understanding of personal preferences in influencing others, then work with actors to work through real situations in your job and witness the impact of using a variety of strategies.
Peer group coaching is a key element of Module 1. These sessions are designed to allow you to develop your coaching skills in a safe and supportive environment. You will review core coaching techniques, learn new methods and then practice them in small peer groups, led by an experienced coach.
“The ability to discuss complex and specific issues with my peers is beneficial:
in considering alternative solutions
using others experiences in similar situations
for my well being and resilience”
These sessions revolve around real-life issues that each participant brings to the session; allowing you to explore how you could address development and career goals within a safe space and how exploring existing and new techniques can help you overcome obstacles. By co-coaching you will have the opportunity to develop your capability, learn from each other and refine your skills.
Chance to work as a group, share experiences, hear other people’s stories, and apply theories set out by the facilitators
Previous participants have highlighted the co-coaching sessions as a particularly useful aspect of the programme. They have highlighted how they took lessons learnt from the process back to their teams and created a more co-operative, effective and productive environment and used the advice given to them by their peers to develop strategies to meet their career goals.
Many participants developed strong bonds with peers across the civil service through these sessions. These groups have continued to stay in touch with
each other and this has been widely considered to be one of the major long-term benefits of the Programme.
[the Talent Team] and Korn Ferry teams [have helped form] our Action Learning Set…, [which] has created a great support group for each other’s development.
Module 2 is a series of interactive webinars, delivered by Subject Matter Experts, focusing on Business Acumen (BA) and Commercial Judgement (CJ). This module is designed to equip you to better demonstrate these attributes in your commercial role and supports you in how to demonstrate these attributes in your ADC, and beyond. You will focus on applying these skills in making complex judgements through simulation.
An insight into the programme’s aims and objectives where you will be introduced to your facilitators, members of the Commercial L&D Team and your fellow learners.
During this 2.5 hour session we will spend some time creating an enabling learning environment, where you will start to get to know your fellow learners. The session will focus on exploring the Business Acumen and Commercial Judgement themes as assessed at ADC.
The focus of this 2.5 hour webinar will be enhancing your market Insight skills, knowledge and behaviours.
During this 2.5 hour session we will be focusing on understanding what is meant by risk mindset in the pubic sector commercial world and how it can impact your commercial decision making and approach.
This 2.5 hour session will focus on your commercial decision making and how you use it to manage complexity.
This 2.5 hour session will provide you with an opportunity to present your responses to the commercial challenge explored in Webinar 4, as well as time to reflect on the module and create some personal actions.
This is an example of the development journey for a Senior Commercial Professional who achieved a B at the ADC, the diagram shows the opportunities available to support them as they work towards accreditation.
Candidates who are on temporary promotion (TP) or fixed term contracts (FTC), will have the same milestones, but within a time frame that reflects their contractual situation.
Months 2-3: Meet GCO Leadership and Career Coach, Line Manager and agree development plan
Module 1: Launch session and 5 webinars to equip GCO Specialists with core leadership skills
Ad hoc Group sessions to focus on collective development areas
Development review with line manager. Specialist reviews progress to date and future goals
Ongoing: Spotlight on Sessions and/or learning to develop skills in specific topic areas
Module 2: Launch Session and 5 webinars to equip GCO Specialists with commercial judgement and business acumen skills
ongoing: Ad hoc Action Learning Sets to focus on collective areas of development aligned to development plan
Month 18-19: Access any interventions to fill outstanding development gap(s)
Month 20: Comms to Commercial Staff and Line Managers – Outline timeline of resit activities, outcomes and consequences
Month 21: Specialist schedules ADC resit, with Line Manager support. Final touch point with GCO ADC Team to confirm logistics for ADC. All development plan goals and actions complete.
Ongoing Line Manager Development Conversations (as required)
GCO Career Coach Support (as required)
Formal learning / Industry events / Technical training e.g. CIPS (10%)
Mentoring Programme / 121 Coaching / Networking (20%)
In-role Development Opportunities / Talent Moves / Job Shadowing to develop experience (70%)
If a GCO Specialist would like to resit prior to 18 months after their entry into the GCO they are required to obtain approval from their Line manager and Commercial Director
There is a strict cancellation policy in place for all Commercial L & D training. Please read the below carefully, a copy of the cancellation policy is sent to you once you have confirmed your attendance.
If you cancel within 15 working days of the event, the cost will be charged back to your department. If cancellation is absolutely unavoidable we require written correspondence from your Commercial Director to cancel your place. We will also be writing to Commercial Directors regularly to update on attendance.
By booking this course you are agreeing to the following terms and conditions:
If you wish to cancel your participation in a course, you may be required to pay a cancellation charge.
Cancellation notification received 15 working days or more before commencement of a course will not
incur a cancellation charge.
in your department being charged the full amount of the total course cost.
on which you agree to attend the training event. If you do not reply to the training invitation by the
deadline date it will be assumed that you are available to attend the training.
Please note that both modules are fully chargeable.
Please record any reasonable adjustments to you may require to complete the programme, on your GCC profile. Recording your reasonable adjustment requirements on your GCC profile will enable the Commercial Learning and Development Team to action your needs as soon as possible. The team is
experienced in supporting candidates requiring reasonable adjustments. We advise that you update any reasonable requirements on the GCC now, ahead of joining your programme.
There are a wide range of ongoing activities outside of the programme to support your commercial learning and development, these are open to all within the GCO. If you are not part of the GCO and would like information about these opportunities, please contact the GCF Partnerships team (see the ‘Useful Contacts’ section on page 16).
The Spotlight On… sessions are an integral and important element of the Commercial Learning and Development offer. They provide an opportunity to cover, in greater depth, areas of learning introduced over the course of the programme and encourage you to assimilate your knowledge and experiences. The sessions are delivered as either webinars or podcasts, which have been created using the expertise of highly experienced SMEs, Crown Representatives and ADC Moderators.
You have full access to the following Spotlight On… session:
This workshop has been designed to provide you with a broader understanding of how the GCF ADC has been designed and how the ADC functions.
Explore different styles and approaches for working with suppliers and how to, appropriately, apply these. Available as a podcast on the Government Commercial College (GCC).
Political Insight involves considering the motives, objectives and positions of key stakeholders in order to equip you with the tools to better understand ‘the agenda behind the agenda’. Available as a podcast on the Government Commercial College (GCC)
An opportunity to refresh, practice and gain feedback from professional coaches on your coaching style. The Masterclass involves a blend of teaching, interactive exercises and facilitated practice.
This masterclass is presented by a Commercial Subject Matter Expert and explores how you can make networking work for you.
This module aims to provide tools that will enable you and your colleagues to create and sustain a diverse and inclusive working environment. The module will help you to explore how Diversity and inclusion impacts on recruitment, attracting talent and on the population already working within the GCS. Available as an interactive module on the Government Commercial College (GCC).
The Commercial Talent Team offer one-to-one coaching programmes that can support you to achieve your goals, enhance your skills and unlock your potential. They can also help you manage issues, barriers and challenges. One-to-one coaching programmes can offer support with:
Parental transition (for individuals taking or returning from extended periods of shared parental leave)
Support for those working towards accreditation
The Commercial Talent Team deliver an annual mentoring programme to support commercial professionals with a diverse range of objectives including career management and soft skills.
Mentors provide advice in line with your development goals, drawing on their own
experience and constructively challenging your way of thinking.
Shadowing in the commercial function is an opportunity for an individual to expand their knowledge, observe how senior commercial specialists engage and present themselves, build networks and understanding of a particular
The GCO Talent Mobility offer enables all specialists working in the GCO at CL, ACS and CS level early access to career development opportunities known as “Talent Moves”. These moves are usually across central government and either permanent or temporary in length.
Talent Moves are particularly useful to consider if you:
similar format to a secondment or loan. They are available pending apphave been in your current role and/or department for a significant period of time;
looking to increase your depth/breadth of experience;
would like the experience of working in a different department;
would like to enhance your strengths or address a specific development/progression need.
As a follow up to the modules and masterclasses, the participant is encouraged to take part in action learning sets. Action Learning is a structured approach within small peer groups to share ideas, reflect on perceptions of their challenges and plan learning collectively.
This is the principal networking online platform, hosted on the Knowledge Hub. Within the GCF Network participants will be able to share news, views and requests for information, find networking opportunities, search for colleagues and events and use the best practice zone. Participants are advised to make their
profiles as complete as possible.
GCF Knowledge Hub
The GCC is a web based platform that enables learners to view and manage all aspects of their commercial learning. It delivers significant improvements to the learner’s experience in terms of the way learning is scheduled and tracked. The site can be accessed by using the link below:
Government Commercial College
Specific training as agreed by your line manager.
Peer reviews, Red Team Reviews, and speaker events as advertised via the GCF Knowledge Hub: participation is strongly recommended and can be used as evidence of your development in your mid and end of year reviews
Networking online and offline with the GCF community and the Knowledge Hub
Wide range of on the job learning (discussed with your line manager and/or the Commercial Talent team) through shadowing, participation in working groups, and participation in specific projects to develop and strengthen your skills
If you have any further queries about the GCO Programme, please contact the Commercial L&D Team via our email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commercial L & D Team: email@example.com
Commercial Leadership Team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commercial Talent Team: email@example.com
GCF Partnerships Team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bookings Team: email@example.com
Government Commercial College: firstname.lastname@example.org
GCO Knowledge Hub, GCO Development Offer
Civil Service Learning
GCF Twitter: @GCF_Comms
Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.
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