Vikki Cooper: coming full circle

  30 APRIL, 2018      COMPANY UPDATES
Vikki Cooper, Site Supervisor at Novus stood behind Novus logo

Vikki joined Novus in 2005 as an apprentice painter and decorator. Since completing her three-year apprenticeship and taking on the role full-time, she has steadily progressed to the position of site supervisor, now working out of our Birmingham office. In this blog, she explains why she decided to join our national network of Skills Champions as part of our new Skills 4 Life initiative. 
 
My first day as an apprentice was almost 12 years ago but I can still remember how I felt at the very beginning of my career with Novus.
 
So it was like coming full circle being asked to help during this year’s apprentice day. Watching the new intake of 26 fresh-faced apprentices get stuck into the challenge and work together brought memories flooding back for me. Find out more about this year’s challenge at the Macari Centre in Stoke-on-Trent here.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed mentoring the apprentices on the day, helping them with practical skills and answering their questions. I’m proud to be part of a company that actively supports and nurtures its staff throughout their careers. I’ve benefitted from Novus’ continual investment in my own training and career development over the last 12 years, and to be honest, this was one of the reasons why I put myself forward to be a Skills Champion - so that I can give something back and hopefully inspire others.
 
The Skills 4 Life initiative is all about passing on practical skills and giving people the confidence to try something new. Through the initiative we’re working closely with some of our social housing clients to equip residents with new skills and improve their job prospects at the same time. I’m the Skills Champion for the Bristol area which means that I’ll be on hand to help mentor small groups during any regional events in the future.
 
One of the first Skills 4 Life events I’ve been involved with was at the Macari Centre homeless shelter. We worked with a small group of residents to help them repaint one of the centre’s communal areas using their new-found skills. Seeing their reaction once the room had been transformed was really rewarding and I can’t wait to get involved in more events to come.
 
The Skills 4 Life initiative embodies Novus’ values. Working in the ‘Novus Way’, that is, by working together as a team, always looking to the future and nurturing relationships with colleagues and clients, is every bit as important as getting the job done right.
 
I love my job. Every day is different and I really enjoy getting out and meeting new people and seeing a job well done. I can honestly say I’ve given it my all and with Novus’ support I’ve come so far and I’ve got my sights set on further progression in the future.
 
To find out more about working with Novus take a look at our dedicated recruitment site

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JOHN PALFREYMAN ASKS: HAS COVID-19 BEEN A DIGITAL CULTURE KICK?

Novus Non-executive director John Palfreyman muses on the question of organisational change amongst the backdrop of Covid-19. This piece was originally prepared for the Beaumont Bailey ‘workforce efficiency’ webinar in April. A few weeks into this terrible global pandemic, I’m working at home in the locked down UK and I receive the message shown below via LinkedIn. Humour is always good in challenging times, but this got me thinking about what’s actually changed? What’s not changed?  And how can we all change to be more efficient after the lockdown ends? Mobility and Efficiency ’Because we have always done things this way’.  How many times have we heard this reason for not trying new ways of working?  This most common ‘excuse’ for resisting change has certainly been broken by the current crisis.  But will this change be sustainable after the crisis? Or will we revert back to our old ways of working? At the start of the crisis when everyone rushed to work from home, many were worried about the technology infrastructure.   In practice, organisations I’ve worked with find current infrastructures coped very well with remote operations.  This was not too much of a surprise for me - at IBM I often told people I was based in LHR departure lounge!  And my productivity did not suffer. We all worried about video meetings - can we do them? Can we be productive when we are not physically together? In practice, we’ve found that these meetings - if well-structured and facilitated - work (albeit very different) and can be more productive - proving that sharing and collaboration can happen at a distance.  Now we’ve crossed this cultural divide of remote, efficient operations will we (a) maintain this way of working once the crisis is over?  Or (b) resort back to normal operations? Digital Culture kick The key to this is organisational culture. Over 30 years ago, Prof. Carol Dweck became interested in students' attitudes to failure, noticing that some rebounded while others seemed devastated by setbacks. She and her team coined the terms "fixed mindset" and "growth mindset" to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. This gets even more interesting when extended to business. In her work on Organisational Mindsets, Prof. Dweck observes “it's possible to weave a fixed or growth mind-set into the very fabric of an organisation to create a culture of genius or a culture of development” In his 2018 HBR article "Successful organization change begins with mindset" Reed Deshler observes that “Transformational change starts in the mind. One of the most critical roles leaders play in any change management situation is to build a success mindset throughout the organization.”  Reed explains that this can be really challenging because “change involves taking people out of their comfort zones - the things they are good at - pushing them to do things differently. Comfort Zones Comfort Zones can explain the reaction of an individual to organisational change. Things feel familiar when we are in our comfort zone. We are at ease and feel in control of our environment. When we are asked to do things differently, perhaps by downloading and using an app to record our time each day rather than filling in a paper timesheet each week this can change, moving us outside our comfort zone. This can push us into the fear zone, where we are tempted to make excuses and feel self-conscious - thinking that others can already do this, hence undermining self confidence.  There are two ways to go from here.  Either back to filling in the paper timesheet and complaining about the new app (the comfort zone) or adopting a growth mindset and moving into the learning zone. Covid-19 REMOVED the comfort zone for everyone, at once giving us an unprecedented cultural kick. The key to answering to my initial question: “Now we’ve crossed this cultural divide of remote, efficient operations will we (a) maintain this way of working once the crisis is over?  Or (b) resort back to normal operations?” is to completely understand organisational culture and be proactive in maintaining the ‘shock’ changes that enabled efficient remote working under Covid-19 conditions.  Cultural insight is the first step in this endeavour. Insight through information In their book "Building Digital Culture", Daniel Rowles and Thomas Brown introduce the following framework: This framework can be to assess organisational readiness for digital transformation, and also to fill the gaps needed to make the transformation a success. Gathering information leading to insight into the organisation’s culture and its readiness for ‘being digital’ can give us useful pointers as to how to ensure that the organisation does not resort back to ‘the old ways” after the crisis. Through this approach smart organisations will be able to maintain the efficiency and productivity improvements offered by selective remote, flexible and on-site collaboration in a post-crisis world. Join the conversation We always encourage you to share your own thoughts on any of the articles we share. If you would like to do so, please use the comment section on our LinkedIn or Facebook page.

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