My first encounter with Civil Service Local North West was when I was asked to lead on forming a new engagement network. At the time, I was working for HMRC’s Employee Engagement team as an AO on temporary promotion, and this seemed like a fantastic development opportunity not to be missed.
The first few meetings of the engagement network were well attended, but attendance soon dropped to a core group of people who were really interested in making a difference to their area. After a ‘go and see’ session with colleagues in the Legal Aid agency in Liverpool, and a meeting with engagement colleagues from HMRC’s Benefit & Credits, we were able to explore our area’s engagement issues and develop a plan of action to help improve them.
Change was one of the main issues in all our organisations, so I decided that we should have engagement network discovery days, with the first focussing on change and the new, scary digital landscape, and how we could engage people.
Using my contacts, I secured three interesting and high profile speakers who could help us begin to understand the meaning of digital whilst exploring why we were so bad at change. With a mini working group from the network we worked up the finer details for the day and issued invitations.
This was a scary moment for me, waiting to see if I got it right and if people wanted to come along. They did! Feedback from the day said it was a big success and people would like to see more of these types of event in the north west.
Building on my experiences, I then took part in another CS Local programme, People Connections, which matches volunteers with colleagues from another department and completely different work area. You then decide if you want a mentor/mentee relationship, or a peer-to-peer exchange of ideas; I chose the mentor/mentee option and haven’t looked back. I have got so much from the relationship I have built up with my mentor from the Department for Work and Pensions and have learnt a lot about myself.
Through my involvement with both of these projects I know my confidence has grown, both in myself and in the work I do, which has been of direct benefit to my team. It has also benefitted other departments in the north west via the discovery day I led.