By Donna Warr, Curo Head of Colleague Experience
I was one of those people who left university with only my degree to my name and, having already decided I no longer wanted to practise Law, I wasn't even sure that was going to be of any use to me. Like many of us I took a job through an agency hoping to buy some time while I decided what I wanted to do next.
The "next thing" turned out to be the start of what is now a 22-year career in management. About six months into my time at British Gas my two managers at the time (yes job-sharing existed even then!) took a punt and moved me into a position as a Team Leader of 10 advisors.
I have changed roles many times throughout my career but only moved organisation three times. The variety of my career has come from the opportunities I have sought out for myself and from those that have been offered to me by those "somebodies" who took a chance on me.
In return, I have taken every chance to learn, be it through courses, mentoring, coaching, job shadowing or secondments. It's through taking up these chances that I have demonstrated an aptitude or aspiration to progress and learn. It’s these things that, in my current role, I encourage others to see in their own team members.
I am a product of proactive managers seeking out people who could step into their shoes when they move on. And because of this, I understand first hand how rewarding this can be, how confidence-building it is and how it creates engaged and committed employees.
It is now one of my main roles to help Curo identify and develop its talent and support colleagues to become our future managers and leaders.
For those of you haven't yet encountered one of my favourite quotes on LinkedIn...
Chief Financial Officer asks CEO: ‘What happens if we invest in our people and they leave us?’
CEO replies: ‘What happens if we don't and they stay?’
I believe the risk is always worth it because, even if they do leave, the organisation will still be better off for the time they were with us. And you never know, they may come back one day.
An important and key strength of Curo is the culture we have and the values we live by every day. By investing in our current colleagues we strengthen this and ensure a longevity that may not be as certain if we always went elsewhere when recruiting new leaders.
Over the past year we have been developing our what we call our ‘Talent Management Framework’ and, for the first time, we are using the insight we gain from our performance reviews to identify those people who want to try new things, learn new skills, take on greater responsibility or become a future director at Curo.
We have a wealth of knowledge and experience across our colleagues and it would be poor practice not to tap into such a valuable asset and help make it into the best it can be.
This week sees eight of our future leaders attending the National Housing Federation’s (NHF) Young Leaders Conference in Birmingham. It’s one of those opportunities I would have jumped at when I was starting out (and secretly I’d still love to take part). They will get the chance to meet young people from other housing providers, hear inspirational speakers, attend workshops on strategy and leadership as well as network with the older crew attending the larger sister NHF Conference next door.
This is just one example of how we are investing in those people who have demonstrated that desire and aspiration for when the chance arises. There will be plenty of other chances coming up, such as participating in the Bath Bridge programme, attending courses through professional memberships, shadowing, secondments, and contributing to other projects.
The challenge I’ve put to tomorrow’s leaders at Curo is this:
If you know you want to develop, to take on more responsibility or try a different role and be part of the future for Curo, then how are you going to make the most of the opportunities out there? Putting your hand up is the first step...