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Living the learning
During the last 10 months, despite maintaining high levels of chargeability, it’s apparent that I have learned more than ever before – with no training courses involved!
The project I’m working on is large and complex. By closure it will have delivered in excess of 50 workstreams. A number of these are essentially projects in their own right (e.g., upgrades or Cloud migrations) and the rest vary in size and complexity.
I began working on these in a support role to the project manager. This provided an opportunity to become accustomed to the client’s preferred ways of working. It also enabled me to form sound working relationships with the project team. I then progressed to take ownership of three sizeable, but related workstreams.
Learning from the ground up
As I reflect on my development across this period, what strikes me is the sheer amount of knowledge and skills I have gained whilst I was focussing on delivery. I have been able to observe the project manager in action, watch the outcomes unfold and apply myself to the same scenarios. During this process I’ve gained immediate feedback and experience, which would wouldn’t be possible in a traditional learning setting.
This opportunity to observe, practise, review and refine has led to increased confidence and independence. I’ve been able to quickly obtain an understanding of both detailed and high-level project elements in real-time. All of these experiences have been incredibly valuable to my personal development and learning. During this process I’ve gained experience and confidence through exposure to all aspects of the project. With guidance and informal mentoring from the project manager, I’ve been able to up-skill myself and embrace the project in a practical sense.
The value of learning
As my skillset and confidence have increased, I’ve become more involved in the wider project. In particular this has led me to take ownership for new areas of work, providing value to the client, but also in the longer term, to Entec Si.
I’m thrilled to be able to progress my consultancy through these on the job learning experiences. The emphasis that Entec Si places upon development means that I’m growing both professionally and personally. By creating a supportive and practical environment that puts people at the centre of every process, we’re able to deliver better outcomes for our clients. I’m super excited to see where my learning journey will take me next!
Five top tips for switching to hybrid working
Covid-19 restrictions having lifted, some organisations are planning to return to the office. However, with many employees wishing to keep working remotely, a hybrid approach may be the best way forward. From taking advantage of smaller or shared spaces to adapting their current working practices, what can employers do to optimise their office space?
1. Think about the whole business
Before making any change, it’s important to think how it will impact the wider business. Adopting a holistic approach to transformation. Organisations must think about which options best support their business models and then considering the implications for people, processes, infrastructure and systems. This will reduce the risk of changes having an unwanted domino effect on other areas of the organisation.
2. Understand what people want
Holding group discussions, sending out surveys or carrying out one-to-one meetings with employees are all good ways to understand the thoughts and feelings around hybrid working. Some people may want to stay working remotely while others will prefer to go back to the office. Considering the circumstances and preferences of each employee will support with a smoother transition.
3. Remember that there’s no one-size fits all approach
It’s important that any working practices put in place fit the business model, from considering the need for employees to work collaboratively to training arrangements, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. There are many different options to choose from, such as making use of flexible workspaces or hot-desking, and most of these will enable the business to take advantage of cost-effective arrangements.
4. Fully equip your workforce
Ensuring that people have the right set-up and equipment is essential, both in and out of the office. Reviewing the team’s current needs and considering whether upgrades or additional services are required is a key part of this.
5. Make the most of blended teams
Using external support can help the transition to hybrid working to go more smoothly. Specialist advisers can help to fill any gaps in the team’s knowledge, ensuring that vital tasks are completed while upskilling staff at the same time.
Hybrid working is likely to be the future, providing the flexibility that many have enjoyed throughout the pandemic while allowing people to benefit from the traditional office experience. Considering people’s individual needs and how the space will fit the business’ evolving needs will ensure any changes bring positive impacts to the way people work.
Additionally, the transition into this new way of working will require consideration and careful management. The pandemic driven changes to our way of working are not yet over and we still have the opportunity to find a silver lining.
For more advice on how to approach business change, contact us here.
Handling increased demand as people return to the skies
Foreign holidays are calling out to many. As more countries are added to the Government’s green list, demand for flights will increase. For airports that have struggled throughout the pandemic, this is a welcome development. However, plans must be in place to cope with the return of holidaymakers.
By following these top tips, airports can ensure they’re ready for takeoff:
1. Prepare to contend with constant change
Aviation has become an unpredictable industry, with the Government’s traffic light system leading to changes at short notice. With restrictions continually altering, effective capacity management is more important than ever.
Scenario planning is an essential part of this, ensuring each traffic light colour has its own dedicated processes to minimise delays and improve safety. Areas to consider include airport security and passport control, where the likelihood of long queues is greater.
2. Keep staffing levels agile
With passenger footfall and revenues down throughout the pandemic, airports have had to make use of the furlough scheme, and in some cases, make staff redundant.
However, now that passenger numbers are rising again, airports need to consider how to keep staffing levels agile. This may require flexible contracts or outsourcing temporary staff, until consistency returns.
3. Incorporate Covid processes
Testing, Covid passports (if introduced) and the continuation of the traffic light system all have the potential to trigger delays. These will need to be incorporated into daily operations to avoid long-term issues.
Although social distancing is set to be removed from 19th July, airports should still factor this into the layout of the airport, should this date be pushed back or social distancing reintroduced.
4. Ensure passengers are in the loop
Passengers should also be provided with information regarding any forms or tests that must be completed prior to their flight. Effective communication will be vital, so platforms such as the airport’s website, social media channels and SMS messages should be used to keep passengers informed.
A return to foreign travel is positive news for airports, but they must prepare themselves for the challenges that lie ahead. By keeping operations flexible, and ensuring plans are in place for every scenario, airports can make the most of the long-awaited holiday season.
To learn more, contact us here.
Bringing working innovations to the not-for-profit sector
COVID-19 has forced many not-for-profit organisations to prepare for a more remote future. By following these five top tips, charities can ensure their vital work is able to continue effectively in any climate.
1. Review people, processes and systems
Having adopted new working practices during the pandemic, charities must now look at how these have affected their people, processes and systems.
This could involve looking at how the workforce is coping with the shift and providing adequate support. For example, any new tools and technologies that have been brought in could require the charity to upskill its workforce. Regardless of the change, it’s always important to implement it at a sustainable pace.
2. Embrace the digital world
It’s important to fully embrace technological solutions. Although many not-for-profit organisations are already making use of technologies such as cloud-based services and video conferencing, exploring the latest innovations can enable them to benefit from improved efficiency and find new ways to reach people.
3. Seek external support
If a gap in the charity’s internal skillset is identified, seeking external support could be the solution. Through collaboration with third party experts, charities can also provide valuable development opportunities to existing employees.
4. Measure success
It’s important to understand that people are affected differently by change. Charities will need to ensure that individuals – and therefore the organisation – are supported to adopt and maintain change; this will include raising awareness, knowledge-building and upskilling, so charities must bear this in mind.
Charities have already had to undergo a transformation in recent months, but when not managed effectively, changes are unsuccessful, often at a financial or reputational cost. This can also take a toll on employees. By supporting their people through changes, and building on new systems introduced, charities can ensure that their operations are able to face any future challenges.
For more information contact us here.
Why personal development matters
Personal development is, by its definition, personal. We came to that revelation after a recent period spent reflecting on our own development journeys. Our inspiration was Sofia’s recent personal journey and we wanted to use this to inspire others across the team. In essence, we wanted to bottle this energy and apply it across the business.
It was clear to us that personal development is something that’s very specific to an individual. We all have different interests, circumstances and inspiration. So we decided to do a pulse check across the company.
This exercise would give us the opportunity to really understand how we’re all growing as individuals. Similarly, it could provide Entec Si with a roadmap that would enable the right kind of structures and space to nurture continual personal development.
Developing during a pandemic
The backdrop to this has, of course, been the COVID-19 pandemic. The disruption caused by the event has meant that more traditional forms of learning have been sidelined. Alongside this, we’ve been acutely aware that many members of our team have had very different experiences throughout this episode. For example, some have been fully utilised for five days a week, whilst others have been on furlough. This range of experiences very much informed our approach to personal development.
About our process
After working up a set of key questions, we agreed that video calls were the best method to gather our information. We hoped that this medium would facilitate more open, natural discussion with our colleagues.
It was always our intention to gather a 360 degree view of the topic. Therefore this led us to approach a broad cross-section of the team. Whether new starters, long-serving staff, junior employees or senior leaders, we were interested in their perspective. We asked the group three specific questions:
- What does personal development mean to you?
- How will you achieve a personal development goal over the next month?
- Tell us your top tip for personal development?
What did the team learn?
The outputs from the exercise made for fascinating viewing. What was really interesting was how each team member had all independently been assessing their own personal development. It seems that we were merely tapping into a process that was already taking place. Although every person’s journey is unique, there were some strikingly common responses to each question.
There was definitely a recognition that personal development is a softer skill, something that is different to professional development. The team saw personal development as a process that can be developed outside of the work environment. It very much serves a dual purpose that enriches the individual, but also benefits the business.
Planning (as you’d expect in a consultancy firm!) was very much a theme, and was evident in two ways. Short-term planning, simply looking ahead and planning in time during a week, was popular. On the other hand, we saw a strand of thinking that recognised that personal development is a lifelong journey that needs to factored in.
We also saw an understanding that personal development is not something that’s limited to work time. Learning new skills can happen anywhere, anytime, and this should be understood as being vital. Similarly the team was careful to point out that personal growth doesn’t just happen in front of a computer. As individuals we can use life experiences and other resources as tools for developing ourselves.
Personal interest was also a recurring theme. The team was clear that personal development works best when it’s driven by a person’s passion or inquisitiveness. This is very much at odds with a ‘one size fits all’, top down approach.
How can this help the business?
One of Entec Si’s core values is care, and this is especially true when it comes to our staff. This has been clear in the different initiatives we’ve provided over the years, from our Academy Practice to our Mental Wealth Working Group. Similarly, our recent personal development work has also had real, tangible impacts.
Within our recent operating model, we’ve put in place a support and learning function. The purpose of this is to look at our company-wide skill set and really drive forward personal development. In this way we’re embedding a positive cultural recognition of the need to continue growing our team’s knowledge and skills.
We’re also seeing the impacts of personal development on day-to-day basis. For example, junior consultant Ben Brown recently successfully managed a web project for a client. Key to this success was Ben’s knowledge of website accessibility, which he had gathered by reading around the topic in his own time. This knowledge ultimately led to us winning more work from this client.
What advice would we give other organisations?
As personal development is unique to each individual, then it’s also unique to each organisation. This means they need to try different approaches to find what suits. That said, there are some basic guidelines that we think are useful to other organisations looking to embed personal development:
- Understand that your people are your greatest asset and invest in them
- Actively engage with staff to find out what they are interested in
- Provide the structure and space to encourage individual growth
- Avoid a dictatorial approach to knowledge transfer
- Recognise that skills come in all shapes and sizes, not just formal qualifications
We’ve both found this exercise immensely rewarding. It’s been truly inspirational to engage with colleagues and their excitement and energy has been infectious. We’re thrilled to see that we’re not only galvanising each other, but are having a positive impact on the organisation’s investment in personal development.
The job market has been changing in recent years, and the pandemic has only accelerated this. Organisations and employees are far more fluid in their approach to work now. This is evident not only in working patterns, but also in the way that individuals understand their careers. The days of working for one company are long gone.
This means that organisations must do more to not only attract talent, but also to retain it. Fundamental to this is the space for employees to grow their personal development. Organisations that recognise this and put it front and centre will be the ones that flourish and grow.
Luke and Sofia
Personal development – a team perspective
Investing in people is a critical element of any successful organisation. Encouraging the workforce to undertake a journey of personal development will nurture a range of ‘soft’ skills. Not only will staff thrive as individuals, the business will also reap a range of benefits. This ultimately leads to a stronger, happier and more productive team.
Similarly, COVID-19 has caused a radical disruption to the way people now work. Flexible hours and remote working mean it’s even more important that we build in time for our own personal development and support opportunities for people to explore new interests and passions.
Nurturing our team
At Entec Si we firmly understand the value of this approach. We’ve consistently provided a range of opportunities designed to nurture personal development. These have included our new people focused operating model, Mental Wealth Working Group and Academy Practice. So we asked some of our team what they thought about personal development and their goals for individual growth.
What does personal development mean to you?
“I think of personal development as being not only how you are in the workplace but also how you have resilience, how you adapt change, how you manage your own wellbeing as well.”
“For me personal development isn’t just for work, it’s for outside of work too. You might not know exactly where you want to be or what you want to be, but under that huge overarching goal there are baby step goals that you keep picking your way through. That’s how I view personal development, as a continuous self improvement set by yourself and driven by yourself.”
“Generally it can mean becoming a better version of yourself. For me personally, I’m trying to figure out at the moment what is it that gives me that drive and what routes I want to go down. I think you can be the best at anything but if you don’t have that drive it is a loss cause.”
“For me the journey of personal development is a process of constant learning. Personal development is part of your journey in whatever role you do.”
“Personal development to me means being able to develop myself, my skills and knowledge for me. Personal development is learning and gaining experience of skills that I need to have effectively to be able to move forward with my career.”
“For me personal development all relates to skills, quality and behaviours. I believe everybody has a set of skills, a set of qualities and behaviours. And I believe that everybody would like to improve themselves in a certain way.”
What are your personal development goals for this year?
- Identify my leadership style and working on leadership skills with Jude Jennison
- Write an article about a piece of client work for social media
- Build my LinkedIn space to be personal to me and what I represent
- I would like to complete the internal project that I took onboard at the start of lockdown three and be available for other internal opportunities
- Gain more experience at communicating with clients
- Pass my apprenticeship exam
- Learn more about resource management
- Further development of multi-tasking abilities
- Proactive approach to work and home-life management – finding a better middle ground between home and work-life while working from home
- Develop an oxygen mask approach to wellbeing, with personal wellbeing as a priority, to fuel my personal resilience to support those around me
- Keep checking both my personal and our team priorities regularly – are we on track, what adjustments do we need to stay or track or improve?
- Have fun and help the team have fun!
- The focus I have at the moment is around developing my leadership brand, by producing articles, linking with people through social media and developing the strengths of the Entec brand alongside the Tim brand
- Enhance my leadership skills to start to think more strategically
- Move away from day-to-day management and working with the leadership team to develop the company moving forward
Start your own journey
We hope that you’ve found our team’s experiences of personal development inspirational. As Julie suggests, personal development is a journey, so explore whatever interests you and enjoy where it takes you.
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