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Civil Service

Your development – feel the fear and reap the rewards

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Civil Service Learning, More skilled
Sue Byrom with large pond and building behind
Sue Byrom

As it’s mid-year review time, I’m reflecting not only on my performance over the last few months but also on my career plan and where I go from here. I’m reflecting on what has worked and not worked for me so far.

In 2013, the team I worked with was disbanded. This was a big change for me. I had to travel an extra couple of hours each day and, despite moving to a similar job, had to re-train and study for a qualification – Counter Fraud Specialist Accreditation at the University of Portsmouth. It was overwhelming at the time, but I was delighted to complete my training programme a little ahead of schedule. This was a great confidence boost and, after 23 years being happy at my officer grade, I realised that it had awakened my interest in a 'career'.

Self-limiting beliefs

I applied for and was successful in obtaining a place on a Civil Service talent programme – the Positive Action Pathway. This provided a structure for my development and opened opportunities for me to meet people from other government departments and to partner on project work.

When I was promoted to HO (HEO grade), this consolidated my new skills and continued to boost my confidence. I learnt that what had actually held my career back were my own self-limiting beliefs, and I was guided by an excellent book that I highly recommend – ‘Feel the fear - and do it anyway!’, by Susan Jeffers.

While on the positive action programme, I started to work on a personal development plan. Using Civil Service Learning’s online tool to set specific targets and timelines brought focus and helped me and my manager to visualise my progress. This included external reading and research, cross-departmental workshops and feedback sessions, and targeted in-work activities, including working alongside senior leaders.

Coaching and mentoring

An important part of my development plan was to get a coach and a mentor, serving two very different needs but both really worth the time invested. My coach provided specific learning in regard to management styles, and my mentor was there for support in overcoming personal barriers.

As the 12-month formal programme came to a close in March 2015, I ‘had a word with myself’ and decided that I would strive to keep developing. I did this by offering to coach others in understanding and using the competency framework. This expanded my coaching skills and empowered others to make the best of themselves in their reviews and job applications.

In recent days, I have gained temporary promotion to SO (SEO grade) and am looking forward to a new and rewarding role. I’m taking the opportunity to build my capability at this level to make me the best candidate I can be for a permanent role.

So my advice to others when it comes to your development is – feel the fear, and do it anyway. Who knows where it may lead you?

...and, the 2015 Pathway for EOs is now open. Click here for more details about the Pathway programme and to apply.

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  1. Comment by stewart kinsman posted on

    An excellent write up and food for thought for us all in an ever changing world, both for staff looking for furthering their careers and for those just looking to do their job. It sounds like you have been fortunate to be in an environment where the ability to make the above choices have been there for you. Unfortunately spare a thought for those Civil Servants, (and we are a diverse bunch), outside of the Civil Service main stream, without direct access to the training opportunities and the support mechanisms at hand. I would love to progress, I would love to just be able to perform my job, but the mechanisms are not in place for all to take advantage of, and if they are then there is a lack of information flow to provide the support that all staff should have a right to.

  2. Comment by Vicki Wheatcroft posted on

    I went through the programme in the same group as Sue and I too had an enforced change in career path but I decided not to move with the work (so I took on a new role within a new regime). Taking part in the Positive Action Pathway also helped me make a decision on my future career within HMRC. The scheme not only introduced/ developed management styles etc but helps you to develop yourself:- your decision making skills, communication skills and the ability to analyse yourself especially when dealing with change (some cognitive stuff). It is as a result of this that I made the decision (like Marion) that I don't want extra responsibility of the higher grade and/or managing staff. I have however had the confidence to 'promote' myself (as a brand - not in grade) to the national training team in my line of business and I am currently a full time trainer delivering training products around the country to CITEX officers.
    So whilst I have not gone down the promotion/management route the scheme has empowered ME to make decisions about MY future and to be confident in my own abilities and potential.

  3. Comment by Deborah Clarke posted on

    Very positive to see a female advancing in her career. I have just started in another government department this summer. I hope to gain EO position within the next 18 - 24 months.

    I will be putting in plans to achieve that goal.

  4. Comment by Adam Khan posted on

    Sue: it was good to hear that you have been inspired by what you learned through the talent programe and are now sharing that learning with colleagues.

  5. Comment by Marion posted on

    This is fine if you want a career, which is assumed we all want, but some of us just want to do the job to the best of our ability and go home and (I know I'm a certain age) don't want the extra responsibility etc.

  6. Comment by John Bangert posted on

    An inspirational piece from Sue that demonstrates the value in investing in your own development and using your own experiences to support others.