ANorth East utility’s vision of empowering its employees through education is reaping the right results.
Northumbrian Water has been celebrating the excellent results achieved by the first group of its managers to complete a BA (Hons) in leadership and management with Newcastle Business School.
This achievement builds on success earlier in the year when some of the company’s senior managers completed a MA in leadership and management, also at the Business School.
The company recognises that the investment in its ‘people managers’ is key to its continued success.
Research from Best Companies, the company behind the Sunday Times survey into employee engagement, shows that the behaviour and style of an individual’s line manager has the biggest single impact on how well they perform, how committed they are and the quality of service they provide to customers.
Northumbrian Water and Newcastle Business School have worked in partnership to develop work-based programmes that directly support the company’s strategy and commitment continuously to develop its employees. The result is excellent customer service and good business results which both underpin the company’s aim to be a great place to work.
As part of its continued commitment, Northumbrian Water is supporting a second cohort of senior managers who are currently studying for the MA in leadership and management and two further groups of managers undertaking the degree course.
Northumbrian Water’s regional maintenance manager Andrew Blakemore recalls being asked if he wanted to do a degree: “I was given the opportunity to do the BA (Hons) in leadership and management in 2008. I was really excited about the possibility of having a degree qualification, but nervous as I had not studied for more than 20 years!
“I found it difficult at times as the work ate into my family time. The huge benefit is that I am now a more confident and self- assured manager and have better leadership skills. I am so proud that I achieved a first and know that my team and the business are also definitely reaping the benefit.”
The water company is also working with Newcastle College on a bespoke programme for team leaders and their line managers, which again has a focus on behaviours – understanding the impact they have and exploring how they can connect with the people in their team in a very real way.
Recognition is also given to the fact that strong technical understanding and capabilities are vital, so in addition to leadership development, the utility supports learning for all its people through:
A comprehensive programme of compliance, health and safety, technical and other training.
Achieving its commitment to the Government’s Skills Pledge in 2010 to ensure 90% of its workforce had achieved a minimum of an NQF Level 2 qualification (the starting point was 60% of the workforce qualified at NQF Level 2 or above).
Its apprentice development programme, with apprentices being developed to take on roles in maintenance, information technology, water production and roles to support the water distribution network, and
Its graduate development programme.
This year Northumbrian Water has also started water engineering adult apprenticeships for some existing employees.
Sarah Salter, Northumbrian Water’s human resources director, said: “Our people are professional and dedicated to the work they do to provide a really good service to all our customers. Our commitment to them is to keep investing in their development and to equip our managers and leaders to provide the right support and encouragement so they can be at their best.
“Our partnership with Newcastle Business School has made a real difference to the insights we have into developing our strong culture and our ways of working. We will keep investing in all our people to ensure we have industry- leading skills and knowledge to underpin the work that we do and the services we provide.”