We have a highly mobile workforce – as consultants, they spend much of their time with clients – so connectivity is crucial. It’s incredibly important to our staff that they still have access to objective feedback, and are able to explore their own career goals, and meet and network with their peers.
As part of a larger human capital strategy, we have arranged our staff into career counselling groups, or families. We began by speaking to our senior leaders, and outlining the structures of these families – each leader now looks after 40 or 50 people.
We worked with individuals, talking through their existing professional relationships, including their experience of mentoring, before they chose a family, and a leader. While we were happy for people to maintain relationships with existing mentors, we encouraged them to chose new mentors from within their groups. They meet twice a year, on a formal basis, but we have a small budget for other activities – my group got together to make truffles, while others have made films, or met up over breakfast.
The groups have provided both work and social connections, and the feedback has been very positive. People now feel that they have someone to go to. We’ve had a great response from the leadership team – they now feel more responsible for people, and have much more confidence as leaders. It’s given them a better feeling for the ‘big picture’, too.
Since setting up the groups, we’ve been able to identify other needs – we’ve set up a working mums’ group, and have just launched one for working dads. We’re in a much better position to see what our people care about. Career counseling families are here to stay. They will change, of course, as people grown in and out of counselling relationships, but we put the effort in up front because we were determined to get it right.
Why it worked
- We spoke to everyone in advance to find out what kind of counsellor they wanted
- We gave the programme a strategy and a solid framework
- We listened to our staff
- We thoroughly briefed participants.