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Connecting people to give something back

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People Connections matches civil servants who want to use their skills and experience to develop themselves and others, and it provided the missing piece for John’s promotion quest.

John said:

I'd been applying for promotion for a good few years and had struggled to improve my competency markings. I’d tried a few ways to improve, including going on competency-writing courses and trying to boost my examples by volunteering for extra work, but my scores didn’t improve enough.

He decided he needed help to improve his competencies, and People Connections matched him with Gemma, who works for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). They shared ideas from the outset, and John was able to focus on his development plan. He told me

Gemma and I met regularly and set clear goals of what we wanted to achieve at each meeting. Gemma helped by taking a keen interest in my work, understanding my current skills and what I was able to do within the scope of my role.

John is certain that Gemma helped him to become more organised and to focus on areas where he lacked experience, and she suggested ways he could improve his competencies, which they then worked on together.

She gave me confidence by advising me on interview situations and preparing me with questions she thought they might ask.

John had spent ten years working in contact centres for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), so he appreciated the different perspective that Gemma gave him, which helped to improve his competency-writing.

And he finally got the promotion he’d been striving for, leaving HMRC to become a criminal caseworker in the Home Office. He attributed his success to the valuable support that Gemma gave him through the People Connections partnership scheme.

Gemma also believes that a different outlook was important. She said

I certainly think being able to give John a different perspective helped him secure his promotion from a different department, grade and role. We worked together to identify his goals and the barriers preventing him from achieving them, and we laid out an action plan of tasks to help John either gain examples he could use in his competencies or to consolidate his existing knowledge.

Gemma Harris
Gemma Harris

Gemma's certain that the key to their successful relationship was regular contact and reviewing what they had done.

Gemma first became involved with Civil Service Local back in 2012 when she enrolled in the North West Academy.


That’s when I first realised the benefits of making and maintaining cross-government connections. Since then, I’ve been involved in a range of Civil Service Local opportunities, from delivering Inspiring Young People projects in primary schools to this latest experience of giving mentoring support through People Connections.

She added that the level of commitment varied for each project, and that one of the advantages of People Connections is that it allows you to manage and control that yourself.

Summing up her journey so far, Gemma told us:

Civil Service Local opportunities have given me a chance to develop skills outside my area of work, which has been a great benefit to the delivery of my day job. Through People Connections I’ve now been able to give something back.



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