Luke Watkeys, business manager
Having joined as a consultant in March 2011, I have been lucky enough to have travelled the length and breadth of the country, meeting some amazing people, organisations and causes, further developing my understanding of excellent management practice, and ultimately contributing towards developing the quality and reputation of our charity St Mungo’s, the wider voluntary sector, and the services they provide.
My team will know that I excel in fromage-related anecdotes, so with my time here coming to an end, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the biggest things I’ve taken away:
I have worked with some amazing colleagues
We practice what we preach at Real People; we know that a team or organisation is only as good as the people who work there, and know that making the right recruitment decision is the bedrock of all other management activity.
Because of this, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the most committed, conscientious and smart people I’ve encountered in my career. It’s a common theme we see in staff surveys – engaged staff comment that they ‘work alongside people who are as committed and professional as they are’. I can vouch for this and I’m going to miss working with my fellow RPers.
I have also worked with some amazing organisations
The list is too long to mention, so I won’t fall into the trap of naming individuals, but I have loved the diversity and quality of the organisations that Real People works with.
The fact that my days have involved at times visiting a community centre to deliver appraisal training, advising a restaurant on how to review their front of house staffing structure, then heading off to a church to administer psychometric tests. The variety – and quality – of the organisations Real People provides services to have been an ongoing source of motivation.
One year we were in serious conversations about jetting off to Shanghai and New York to deliver management training. Alas, this never materialised meaning travel has only extended outside of the UK on one occasion (for a whirlwind tour of Amsterdam) but getting to visit so many parts of the UK has been an incredibly enjoyable part of the job. From lengthy stays in Liverpool for interim assignments, to overnighters in Bristol, Canterbury or Newcastle, making the effort to visit organisations and people face-to-face is almost always appreciated, and has allowed me to see different parts of the organisation.
I’ve learnt a lot
Working within an organisation that places a serious focus on learning, I look back on my personal development plans from 2011 and reflect on how many opportunities I have had to experience new and unfamiliar situations and learn from them. We believe strongly that adult learning is self-directed, so the opportunities have been there but I’ve had to lead on taking them as they have arisen. I’ve learnt about consultancy, different forms of HR practice, how to deal with difficult behaviour, how to encourage positive behaviour, and ultimately how to ensure that an organisation functions properly and healthily.
I’ve seen the impact that good people management practice has on an organisation
Some of our clients have come to us with little to no experience of how to manage people properly. We’ve met managers who have never held a supervision with their reports, or held them so regularly that there is little time for anything else. We’ve seen organisations recruit to some of their most key roles off the back of a handshake, with no understanding of the prospective applicants actual skill, ability, or motivation. We’ve seen organisations with no set policy for dealing with difficult behaviour and no concept of what a ‘fair hearing’ would be, or being tied in knots by manipulative staff.
Real People’s mission is making people management easy. For many of these organisations, we have been able to help them learn from their experience, get the basics of an employment contract and consistent and fair policies developed and implemented and, for some, we have taken the work further, developing their cultures of high performance, engagement, low sickness and conflict. I’ve seen the impact that this has then had on the people who receive the services they provide. I have no doubt that Real People, directly and indirectly, has helped many people to experience positive management.
So, as I bow out of the Real People world, I wish the team the very best delivering their vision of a world where everyone experiences good management. I have no doubt that they will go from strength to strength, helping more and more organisations, and will remain in touch.