Growing our own

Growing our own

‘Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.’

So said US car maker and business magnate Henry Ford, and we think he’s definitely onto something.

That’s why here at Darlington Building Society we are passionate about investing in all our staff, supporting them to continually learn and grow – as well as taking the lead in their own career development.

“We approach learning as a continuous cycle to ensure needs are identified and addressed as part of the principle of Growing Our Own,” explains the Society’s learning and development manager Andy Kane.

“The Society is an advocate of self-learning principles, in that it recognises and celebrates the benefit and value added to the business by individuals taking ownership for their development.”

To this end, we work with various partners to provide training for all team members on a range of important topics, from the Building Societies Association for regulatory matters to the Alzheimer’s Society, which provides advice on how staff can support members living with the condition.

As a way to formalise an element of colleagues’ learning, in 2016 Andy formed a partnership with Northern Skills Group, part of Middlesbrough College, to offer fully-funded apprenticeships in leadership and management to members of the DBS team.

Andy explains: “Using apprenticeship frameworks for existing staff, the Society was able to offer newly-promoted and new-to-role managers leadership and management development programmes that were in line with the Society’s strategy.

“Middlesbrough College has been integral to the success of the programme and the development of our colleagues, working with us to build a programme that reflects our organisational context and takes into account the different starting points and career paths of our team.”

13 members of staff have completed the programme so far, and feedback has been positive. Participant Jonathan Harwood, technical services manager at the Society, explains: “It’s made me a much more confident manager and more effective leader.”

Louise Thorpe, Head of Direct Sales, said: “The programme took my learning wider than Darlington Building Society; into other industries and sectors and I now have a much broader appreciation and understanding of things like people development and operational planning.”

The programme has been such a success it has been shortlisted for three prestigious Training Journal Awards – Best Apprenticeship Programme, Best Private/Commercial Programme and Best Talent Development Programme.

And while it’s always nice to be nominated for awards, what means the most to us is the recognition of our staff’s hard work, and their investment in their own development.

As Andy says: “To be shortlisted is great, but that the shortlisting comes off the back of 13 of our colleagues’ commitment, dedication, openness and enthusiasm to strengthen their tool kit and broaden their knowledge is tremendous.

“The programme is nothing without the people taking part putting their learning into practice and using that knowledge and experience to drive the Society towards its goals – that’s what I’m most proud of.”

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