Susan Coleman – Champion, Shropshire County Council
As a part-time PA at Shropshire Council, Susan was feeling underutilised and undervalued and was keen to find a way to build on her previous management experience, take on more responsibilities and develop new skills. At the time, in response to government spending cuts, Shropshire Council was in the throes of a major transformation programme (click to read report). At the heart of this strategic change process was the role of “Change Agent” and Susan recognising this as an exciting opportunity volunteered for the role.
Using the Windmills publication No Regrets on Sunday (click to portfolio – No Regrets), Susan took part in a personal development workshop followed by specific capacity building support to enable her to facilitate wider Windmills activities and exercises.
The first of the personal development sessions, disappointingly for Susan, was not what she had expected. She felt really uncomfortable and wasn’t really enjoying the experience. Expressing her concerns at the break she felt it would be better if she left the programme. She was encouraged to ‘give things a bit longer’ and stayed. Later she reflected ‘I was thinking it was a little bit ‘fluffy’ and perhaps I was a bit cynical, sceptical about it all. The terminology that’s used ‘Windmills’- it’s a bit alien really.’
Becoming a Windmills Champion however had a massive impact for Susan on both a personal and professional level. Acknowledging that before the No Regrets on Sunday training she was a bit of a ‘glass half empty’ person she began to recognise how she could benefit from a more positive and proactive outlook. ‘Surprisingly to me it’s made me really begin to think more positively about things. I can see now how I can actually find some positives in things which I didn’t really feel able to do before. I feel now that I have really accepted that I’ve got to act and think differently if I want to create an inspiring future for myself.’
From the initial training Susan became one of the most active Champions at the council. She supported people with formal one to one sessions, delivered group sessions for teams coping with impending organisational change and volunteered to take on a coordination role amongst the team to monitor activity and impact across the organisation.
Away from organised activities Susan continued to practice what she preached saying “Now I use the attitudes, behaviours, tools and techniques learned through Windmills to help me and anyone I come into contact with at work to see things differently and to take control of their future”
(Click here to see video clip of Susan)
Being a really active Windmills Champion increased Susan’s profile in the organisation and she began to feel that she was making more of a contribution to the transformation programme as a Change Agent than she could ever have made in her role as a PA.
When Susan’s own role came under review, as the number of PAs in the Council was being reduced, she felt confident that the Windmills approach had given her the skills and resources to manage herself through the process. ‘Thanks to Windmills I feel much more confident in my ability to position myself in the new structure and ensure that I play a key role where I can.’
Susan decided to use this as an opportunity to find herself another role in the organisation, one that would allow her to draw on her previous business experience and combine that with her new enthusiasm for supporting others. She applied for a Business Advisor role and to her delight was successful in securing this new position. ‘I have 30 years business experience which I never got to use in my PA role so for me it is the job I have wanted for the last 2 years. If not for Windmills this would not have happened. The Council is getting the best out of me and I feel valued and know that I am making a difference.’
Susan has found that as well as continuing to support her colleagues in the Council on an informal basis, she can use the principles and resources when working with her new business clients. She says, when reflecting on the last three years since she first attended the No Regrets workshop ‘I am still loving every minute of my job, very busy and very fulfilled – great to know I AM making a difference to practically everyone I meet! Still talking Windmills – as part of our support package that we offer to businesses closing down I am doing a skills card session with a Royal Mail employee about to be made redundant.’
If you would like to know more about this type of support and how you can access this then please contact us. (Click to contact us)