I am interviewing our second candidate with Meike Beckford, Dosh’s Financial Advocacy Manager for a position with Dosh Ltd, a company I have had the honour of being the Managing Director for over the last 10 years. It is my turn to be asked a question by the interviewee and to be honest it is not one I was expecting. “So what do you find is the best part of working for Dosh?” My response comes to me immediately. I say: “It is reading the stories that my colleagues send me about how they have made a difference to another person’s life”. Before each Board Meeting each team member sends me a story about their most recent work and their involvement in supporting a person to have more independence and control with their money. I always find their stories moving and inspirational.
The Dosh team come from a diverse background and they are totally committed and dedicated to people with a learning disability. I am truly surrounded by talent and I will be a better leader and manager for this experience. Working for Dosh has been the highlight of my second career.
How did that happen?
I started as a Community Support Team Leader (and Support Worker) supporting people with a learning disability, after retiring from the Army in 1996. I was inspired by my daughter Bettina (who copes with a learning disability) to enter this field of work. I wanted to make a difference and I decided the best way to do this was to seek out the best people to work with and for. If I was going to achieve success and be successful, I would need to surround myself with talent. I knew from experience that doing this would make me better a person and a better leader too.
I subsequently became a Registered Home Manager, Area Manager, Operations Manager, Regional Director, and a Director of Learning Disabilities, before achieving my dream job in 2009 as Managing Director of Dosh (Financial Advocacy) Ltd, a subsidiary company of Thera Trust.
“If you have the ability to work with people smarter than you, always try to be the least smartest person in the room and surround yourself with talent, because iron sharpens iron.”
Jake M Johnson
The purpose of this post is to share with you how I have personally benefited from finding people who have made me better and why this is a good thing to do.
Why should you endeavour to find people who make you better?
My 5 top reasons for doing this are as follows:
- You want to be the best person you could possibly be
- They will fill gaps in both your knowledge and expertise. You can’t possibly know it all.
- They will teach you new things. In Dosh this has been a daily experience for me over the last 10 years. I often tell one of my colleagues that every time I read one of her emails I am educated.
- They inspire you to do great things. (As a leader you don’t always have to be the person inspiring).
- They stop you from being complacent. Talented people have high expectations. They expect something special from you, so it is important you deliver (every day).
How do you go about finding people who make you better?
- Never stop talent spotting. Even when I don’t have vacancies in a team I have been responsible for, I never stop looking for people who I would like to work with.
- One Mentor is never enough. Which areas of your life do you want to be better at? Once you have identified these areas, find a Mentor for each one.
“I’ve got the attitude which I still have today that if I find someone that I really admire, someone that I think, I want to be you. I want to do the things the way you do them. I’ve always sort of been stupid enough or brave enough to go up to them and say, will you mentor me?”
Rene Carayol – Businessman, Speaker, Author and Broadcaster
- ‘Networking: it really is all about who you know’ my life has been enriched by the people I know and I have come to the conclusion that the success I have achieved in both my careers has often been due to the people I know. My thoughts on networking: it really is all about who you know
- Take the time to find out people’s gifts, qualities and interests they have. I have found doing this, especially with Dosh Team members who have an abundance of talent and creativity, has made me a better person.
- Seek out those people who have a stake in your company, they could be your ‘customers’ and or the people you support. I talked about how Bettina has made me a better person in ‘find people who make you better‘. The people I support have also made me a better person. How they see the world and the hard work and determination to communicate their feelings is both humbling and inspiring.
“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins, Good to Great
My 5 top tips on Talent Management
So you have found people who make you better. How do you keep them close to you and involved in your life so you keep getting better because of them:
- Find out their aspirations and do your very best to help them achieve.
- Always put them before you. (in my first career it was a sin if you went to the front of the queue for a meal – you eat last and sleep last)
- Go for democracy – seek their advice, involve them in decision making, and then trust their judgements.
- Create a ‘culture’ (the way we do things around here) that people will want to be part and proud of.
- Part of that culture needs to recognise that failure and making mistakes can be positive and are there lessons to be learned from these. You have a “no blame” culture and when you have that, it sets talented people free to be their most creative.
I found work that I was always meant to do: and I got to do this for 10 years with Dosh. From the 1st November (2019), I am moving to a new position within the Thera Group. I will be their Head of Workforce Strategy and Engagement (the job title is still under negotiation as I type). I feel fortunate to be given this opportunity as there is so much I want to achieve for people within my organisation.
As I handover to Meike our (excellent) new Lead Director and before I leave Dosh, I want to take the opportunity to thank the Dosh Board of Directors and each team member (past and present) for making me a better person. I couldn’t do what I do without you!