Jessica Turner

There’s No I In Team

There’s No I In Team

 

The challenge of the unknown, being asked to develop a new service line, or take over an area of the business that I have had previous exposure to is always an exciting but scary journey. 

I have been privileged in my professional career to be given the opportunities to develop new services, new customers, and new people. Of late this has been focussed specifically on developing new services to new and existing customers.  Whilst daunting, it’s not something we at Delt shy away from, as we have a collective passion to deliver successful outcomes for our customers and partner organisations. 

Our latest venture has been the introduction and integration of Estates Management Services, and now a year in I’m confident to say that there has been a successful transition of the services and significant improvements to our customers. Who, in turn, have a better environment for their service users. Is it easy? No! But with the right mindset, risk appetite and positive can-do attitude we have steered the turbulent waters of turning a service around. 

We have always had a great track record of helping our staff to grow beyond their existing roles, and supported them as their personal aspirations are realised. It’s only one small step to take those personal aspirations and use these to define and drive service improvement, be this at a senior strategic level, or on the ground teams. By selling the vision, of the future service outcomes, and then supporting the whole team on the journey we can grow from the services seeded by customers. Those customers who want to see improvements but have completing priorities with their own primary service needs, to freeing already performing teams to be the best they can. 

For me, personally, this summer has been emotionally challenging as I was given the opportunity to take a team from one of our education customers and improve the delivery of the service, ultimately to improve the learning experience of some of our communities most vulnerable and challenged pupils. The areas requiring attention were so diverse it was difficult to know where to start, but having those challenging conversations with our customers allowed us to identify the areas which were causing them the greatest challenges and, at least, provided areas of focus.  

Collectively we developed a plan of action which was shared, and then we simply started at the beginning and worked though the defined tasks, overcoming obstacles as we went. Being able to clearly lead at times and knowing when to step back and let others take the helm helped to form bonds and gave aspiring leaders the opportunity to shine. Providing ongoing communication was key to successful delivery. From co-ordinating contractors, feeding back to stakeholders and sharing the success with the internal teams. It’s been a long time since I have done physical work but even that was required, on occasion, to support and build the team, walking a mile in their shoes gave me a valuable insight into their challenges and how I can help to overcome those with them. 

Ultimately, we made a promise to our customers, and we delivered on that promise, at the same time forming new relationships and strengthening existing bonds. Whilst exhausting, it has been one of the most rewarding summers that I have had in any workplace. 

Damean Miller, Chief Services Officer

I am what I am

I am, what I am

Do you currently feel outside of your comfort zone? If the answer is yes, then you’re not alone. If the answer is no, then you’re missing an opportunity to grow, and I hope that this short story, about a recent experience of mine will encourage you to seek opportunities to better yourself both personally and professionally.

Public speaking to large crowds of people has never been something I ever felt any good at and it’s something I have been largely able to avoid throughout my career. After all, who wants to put themselves into a position where they feel out of their depth and cause themselves unnecessary stress and anxiety? However, over the years I have realised that confronting these things head on by operating outside your comfort zone is a critical component to personal growth.

So, I finally did something about my public speaking challenge thanks to some advice from a colleague [Jane White] and, a few months ago, joined Toastmasters International which is a US headquartered, non-profit educational organisation that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of promoting communication, public speaking, and leadership. I joined the club in Plymouth and as part of the educational pathway, I have been challenged to speak to audiences on various topics.

My first speech was called “I am what I am” and is based on a quote from Charlie Chaplin:

“I am what I am: an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of ancestral promptings and urgings; a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, all of which I am the sum total.

The pathway and club provide a safe environment to learn and prepare for my first speech. But, even so, as the days counted down to the big day, I felt the pressure building and had to spend time in the evenings and weekends to prepare for this inaugural speech. I have to admit there were times when I thought about delaying it as I was too busy at work and I would be better resourced to do it in 4 weeks. Thankfully, I kept to the mission and set myself some small goals, creating a plan taking me up to the day of the speech. I found that this really helped and each time I met the goal I felt an achievement which gave me the motivation to reach the next goal and so on.

Writing the content was the easy part; reflecting on whether it was DNA, life experience or both which made me who I am today. Having done some research, I concluded there is no easy answer and therefore felt that it was a combination of both. I touched on my humour which I know I got from my father, he was a funny man, and like me enjoyed the “work hard, play hard” motto. At the end of it all I really enjoyed writing because it came from a place of interest and desire to better myself. 

After plenty of practice the night finally arrived, and I had to deliver this first public speech to a virtual audience, hearing the words “ready when you are”. There was almost a moment of “oh no” but the robot switched on and I went and delivered my talk. Throughout the speech I continually focused on body language, facial expressions, vocal tone as well as remembering my cues which were on a little cheat sheet stuck to my screen (the benefit of virtual presenting!).

On finishing the speech, I felt like I had been on an emotional rollercoaster and I felt shattered later that evening but also elated after a real humbling amount of positive feedback from the evaluator. I am now planning my second speech, so if anyone has any ideas for my next topic do let me know.

Why am I bothering writing this? Well, it’s certainly not to bore you. I hope to inspire and encourage you to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I have always been an advocate for the saying “you reap what you sow” and opportunities rarely land on laps, so seek out those opportunities and don’t give up. I am still in the ‘sow’ stage but hope, one day, to be able to stand on stage in front of a large audience and achieve my long-term goal. Hard work does pay off and I encourage you to go and grab any opportunities out there for self-betterment and above all else – pride!

Paul Jones, Chief Information Officer

Photo by Aatik Tasneem on Unsplash

Mental Health – a journey not a destination

Mental Health – a journey not a destination

Mental Health Recovery – it’s a journey not a destination. At least that’s how I have come to view my own experience.

I’d love to tell you that I am on the road to recovery and whilst I can see the end it isn’t a finite chequered flag of success. It’s filling my car with all the necessary paraphernalia to keep it running smoothly and knowing what those things are. Sure, there are going to be bumps, the odd breakdown but in the end, I keep moving forward. And that’s all anyone can do.

My battle with anxiety started when I was around 10 years old. 20+ years on and I’ve collected up the titles of Anxiety, PTSD, Depression, Seasonal Anxiety and Post-Natal Depression. Gulp! Typing it out doesn’t sit too comfortably to be honest so this isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever written.

Ironic isn’t it? My job is to tell the stories about the amazing people and work Delt [and it’s staff] does yet writing my own story feels overwhelming, vulnerable and, if I’m honest, sets off my little anxiety chimp who is screaming at me ‘but what if everyone hates it!?’

Deep breath, here goes…

This post, whilst fully intending to raise awareness of the barriers of Mental Health and the difficulties in talking about it. I’m also writing it as an open thank you to all those who have and continue to support me – including Delt.

I was lucky enough to be given access to crucial Mental Health services, Plymouth is pretty well resourced compared to some parts of the country. When I had my son, I was put on a regular visiting programme through my Health Visitor which meant she saw me weekly (something most mums would never have and not at all during Covid). Alongside that I was referred to Perinatal and CAMHS/IMHT who equally supported me through my PTSD and Post-Natal Depression.

Three years on, and I have since accessed additional therapy, worked on self-educating myself on what is good and bad for my MH. What makes the anxiety more bearable (if that’s possible) and avoiding things that simply make it skyrocket. Of course, that is easier said than done in some cases. Because the reality of children is that they manifest a whole other version of your anxieties. Everything I learnt; all the coping mechanisms I skilfully deployed pre-child became obsolete. Useless. I had to start again.

Amongst all of that, something compelled me to find a new job. I needed stability, routine and an opportunity to think about something else. Focus on something other than what was deemed to be ‘wrong’ with me and stop allowing it to weigh me down. It pushed me out of my comfort zone but into a place that was somewhat familiar to me. I always enjoyed working before Maternity Leave, but it felt scary this time around.

Yet, with Delt I needn’t be fearful. Delt prioritises employee wellbeing, and it shows. They supported me through a really difficult period of grief – and continue to do so. Their resources are pretty cool too with a 24-hour Employee Assistant Programme, wellbeing portal filled with workouts, healthy recipes, self-help guides and so much more. Alongside that the business has trained Mental Health First Aiders who are an initial point of contact for anyone who may need some guidance on where to go and who to speak to.

I know these things aren’t unusual in modern workplaces, anymore, but the thing with Delt is that they go further. From small gestures to ensure you know that you are appreciated and valued to regular wellness check-ins throughout the pandemic to ensure no one feels isolated.

It’s been a tricky year for many of us but working for an organisation that is not only willing to offer support but cares enough to do it well has been invaluable to me. It’s made coming to work easy, it’s given me the drive I need to keep moving forward for myself and my family.

If you’re struggling, there are places and people who can help please don’t be afraid to reach out. It could change your life!

DevonMind
Livewell South West
Mental Health Foundation
First Response 24/7 helpline for adults living in Plymouth 0800 923 9323
Young People 24/7 helpline for those under 18 living in Plymouth 01752 435122
Samaritans Helpline 116 123

Jessica Turner, Marketing & Communications Manager

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

When You Needed Something Yesterday

When you needed something yesterday

It’s a question we ask often “When do you need that by?” and sometimes it is met with a date in the not-too-distant future and others it is a case of ‘yesterday?’.

To support our customers with the amazing work they have, and continue to do, Delt have become very good at taking a deep breath, asking exactly what they need and getting to work (at sometimes what feels like lightning speed). I’m always impressed to see how quickly the wheels can start spinning when everyone is working towards a collective goal.

That was exactly what happened when the request came in from Devon CCG for a way to manage Covid-19 vaccination bookings for thousands of front-line key workers. This came with a couple of caveats,

  1. It needed to be ready and live within 3 days to support the rapid roll out of the first vaccination doses.
  2. It had to be relatively budget friendly.

 “An easy one then?” from me feeling slightly nervous but followed by getting stuck straight in. This ended up leading into a very rewarding piece of work and an incredible collaborative team effort mainly done through a MS Teams chat simply titled “Help!” and a lot of virtual meetings and cups of coffee.

The first challenge was identifying what tool could could provide the best solution and be up and running – fast! Luckily, I had done a bit of work earlier in the year, for the customer, supporting their Flu Vaccine programme for staff. We had used the Microsoft Bookings tools for this, so that seemed like a good place to start.

Nothing is ever that easy though, right? The spanner in the works was that this was for members of the public and coordinated across multiple hospitals who all had different requirements for the information they got sent and when they needed it. We settled on expanding the functionality of the Booking tool with the Power Automate tool. As both of these were available within their existing Microsoft subscriptions it simply meant reusing what was already available. Big win all round! 

This led to many hours of working with their Digital Team to get the flows and data export that was needed. As anyone who has developed in this way before, and by that, I mean fast and with constantly changing requirements, you will appreciate that it is an emotional roller coaster. There is nothing quite like spending ages trying to get a flow or bit of code to work to get that final wonderful movie moment where you see the words Test Successful on the screen.

In the end, I am proud to say, that we produced a solid booking system with integrated reporting that was up and running in just 2 days; and ready to go live in 3. By the 4th day hundreds of people had used it!

I talk to a lot of people in my role about the power of the tools available to them and being able to use them in different ways, but it was great to get stuck in and utilise them to have real impact during such an important time. I would also admit that I quite enjoyed the pressure of it and having to problem solve quickly, I guess that’s part of the reason I volunteer as a policer office in my spare time… but that’s a story for another day!

Helen Day-Cocking; Product Manager, Modern Workplace

Photo by @veri_ivanova on Unsplash

Pride

Pride

Some years ago, I was working for somebody who briefly had a firm view that we should deliver ‘World Class’ services. That’s an aspiration with which I was very comfortable. Unfortunately, commercial reality began to bite and soon our direction changed. We couldn’t afford ‘World Class’ any more so set our sights on a lower target. I was less happy with this compromise.

As I’ve said several times in past blogs, I’m not very good at lots of things. This is a step up from being incompetent at everything, but quite a long way short of being good at something, let alone world class at it. (Yes, I was once able to escape from handcuffs faster than anyone else in the world, but that’s not the marketable skill in 2021). However, my general lack of brilliance at everything doesn’t mean that I don’t retain an aspiration to be better at things. Whilst aspiring to be amongst the best may lead me to a lifetime of disappointment, I’m much happier with that than the recognition that we can’t afford or don’t aspire to be great.

When we agreed to put Delt through Best Companies Accreditation (perhaps one day leading to a Sunday Times Top 100 employer award) it was because of this desire to be as good as we possibly could be. And to become great at anything, you usually have to be able to measure it. Sir Lewis Hamilton is not the Formula One World Champion because he thinks he drives pretty fast, but because he has been tested and measured. In order for Delt to be a great place to work, we need to measure ourselves.

Our first experience of Best Companies has been fantastic. We’ve got a very good result but perhaps more importantly, an understanding of what we can change to become better than very good. Next step is outstanding, then we aim for World Class. Why wouldn’t everyone want to be a World Class best place to work? It’s not about how much you pay people; it’s about how they feel about what you do and how you do it. This is reflected in what they do for you and, then, in how your customers and potential customers feel about your service. Those feelings directly translate to customer satisfaction, increased revenue and profitability.

Last Friday we were told that not only had we been assessed as a ‘very good’ company to work for but that our score was high enough to get us into the top 20 Business Services suppliers in the whole UK. We didn’t see that coming. Given that our organisation is wholly committed to ‘helping people do amazing things‘ (and that includes our own staff) perhaps we should have done.

In more than 30 years of technology leadership and with a good handful of awards, I don’t think I have ever been so proud.

Giles Letheren
Chief Executive Officer

Delt Shared Services earns place on UK’S Top 20 Business Services list

Earlier this year Delt Shared Services was awarded a 1 star ‘very good’ accreditation from the b-heard engagement survey which forms the list of Best Companies to Work For. And now, to add to the success, the organisation has been placed at 17th in the top 20 UK Business Services for 2021.

In a virtual event, hosted by the BBC’s Dan Walker, the Best Companies lists for the year were unveiled and businesses across the country were recognised for their commitment to their employees and overall workplace engagement.

Delt conducted the survey in February and achieved a record 75% engagement rate, which far exceeded any previous survey participation rate, with an overall result of 661.2 out of 1000. This score merits a ‘very good’ business to work for and attributes a 1-star rating.

Giles Letheren, CEO said; ‘I’m delighted that the work we have done on vision, values and culture has been reflected in a Best Companies accreditation and now a position on the top Business Services list. Our team have been truly exceptional over a challenging (Covid) year of Helping People do Amazing Things and being recognised for this, at our first try, shows that we take employee engagement seriously, even as the world of work has completely changed.’.

The b-heard rating system tracks companies on a scale of 0 to 1000. A score of 600 and above puts companies in their ‘one to watch’ category and from there a company can score between 1 and 3 stars which is considered the ‘best-of-the-best’.

Jane White, Chief People and Culture Officer added; “We are so pleased that we rated highly for ‘My Team’ as team morale is fundamental to wellbeing, belonging and job confidence. To also be awarded 1 star really is the icing on the cake for us but more importantly it is the staff feedback that will give us the information we need to make Delt an even better place to work”

Delt’s Best Companies profile can be viewed on the b-heard website. Additionally all those who ranked in the Top 20 Business Services category can be found here.

A Project Manager’s Perspective

A Small Cog in a Big Machine

Vaccinating the entire UK adult population as quick as possible strikes me as quite a daunting task. If it was up to me, I wouldn’t know where to start. But thankfully that isn’t the case. There’s a whole load of dedicated healthcare professionals who know what to do and are dedicated to tackling the greatest challenge, the country,  has faced since World War 2. There are so many cogs turning in the overall vaccination machine to make this work, it is impressive that it is in place and working smoothly. The UK is currently the 3rd highest in the world in terms of the percentage of doses administered to its population. And I find that pretty impressive.

When I think back to November last year when Delt were appointed to be just one small cog, in the overall vaccination machine, to ensure that the IT for the Primary Care Networks’ mass vaccination sites, within Devon, was arranged, set up and ready for the start. Ok, I do know where to start with that, and I knew that the teams at Delt could  do it. With a large proportion of the sites not being located at GP surgeries but rather at leisure centres, bowling greens, perhaps even a function centre with a bar. The scale of the task certainly didn’t pass me by and it was going to take some planning but I felt certain we would make it work. Above all else, this had to happen in a few weeks as programme would be moving at pace. I’d better strap myself in. This is going to take some doing.

And so, the work started to gather as much of the requirements together as possible. What locations were the vaccinations going to take place in? Do they already have a network that can be used? Is it fast enough to handle, potentially, a lot of users? How many laptops do they need? They need barcode scanners as well?! It was a lot of information to gather in a short period of time. Luckily, I was not alone and had Joe Unwin from the PMO co-managing the project with me. We were able to split the work up between us and get a solid picture as to what was needed.

Before long, we had laptops ready to go and scanners being delivered. We had brokered deals with other organisations to use their networks at their sites. We had bought additional 4G routers as back up plans (and there can never be enough back up plans!). By mid-December, the first week of sites going live with vaccinations had arrived and, with the help of some very dedicated members of our Service Desk, we were delivering IT equipment out to sites and having one final check before the big day. From that point onwards it became a bit of a blur. There was so much activity throughout the rest of December that we didn’t have time to pause for breath. But looking back, we played our part in getting the IT ready for all these sites, enabling them all to go live and come away unscathed without any insurmountable IT issues. 20 sites all up and running with the IT all in place and no major problems (I’d better touch wood when I say that…). Achieved by the dedication of numerous teams and individuals across Delt who put in the hours to make sure we were able to put in place what was needed and be ready to support them afterwards.

Fast forward to now (March) and the rate of vaccinations is still speeding up. I’m over 40 so I hear my time for a jab will be soon. And when I roll up my sleeve and try not to pass out at the sight of a needle, I will think back to the previous 4 months and how impressive the overall machine of the healthcare sector has been to put this all in place. And I am glad that Delt has been able to play its part by being even just a small cog in this machine.

Andy Fleming, Project Manager

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

Women In Technology

Why I love Working in Technology… and you should too!  

When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up as a child, I would have said something between zookeeper, doctor and dancer depending on the time of the day. To be honest if you asked me today, I still probably don’t know but I do currently work in a field I enjoy and feel like I make a difference… which I think is really all that matters in the end. I have met and worked with incredible women. From those who are technical wizzes and code like they speak another language, others who are passionate about teaching digital skills and how much impact it can have on people’s lives and then those like me who solve problems and tell stories. However, what I can say with some certainty is there are not enough of them! I want to try and encourage women and girls to get into technology if I can, and I hope sharing some of my experience compared to what I thought it would be like can help do this.  

I have always been a nerd, the 3 science at A levels then studied Zoology at university variety, but I still never really considered working with computers. I even fished out an old report card the other day to find I had failed IT, so that wasn’t a strong start for my future career. I think one of the things that meant I never considered it, and might be the same reason for other girls and women out there, is the misconceptions I had around it like… It is a male dominated industry, so I will not fit in. I like to be creative, and computers are boring. I love working with people and want to make a difference and technology is all about machines.  

The first one is still true in some ways, it is a bit of a male dominated industry, but this is not by design and it is changing. The barriers are being broken down everywhere around what a “traditional” career looks like for women. I have always felt welcome in the tech community, there have been some obstacles and a couple of moments where someone has commented on me having a role that might have previously been a filled by a man, but I do not take that negatively. I am always proud that I am walking a new path and helping make change. If I can inspire a few others along the way even better.  

One of the main reasons I love my role is how creative I get to be. A large part of what I do is storytelling; listening to what problems people want to solve or the things they can’t do and telling them stories of how the future could be. I also know that coding is an art form, enterprise architecture is design work and innovation is all about ideas and thinking creatively. I think the roles in technology are also far broader than I ever imagined supporting the ever-changing nature of it. As a result of that you can find a way to be creative and carve out a role that you really enjoy. There can no longer be a set path when the destination is always changing, and the jobs around today weren’t exactly in the career booklet when I was at school.  

My final reservation was about people. I am a people person and a problem solver and what drives me is making meaningful change and helping people. Working in technology allows me to do that. It may all be run by machines, but it is useless without the people it aims to help. I see the real impact that modern technologies can make on people’s lives from the small everyday improvements, like using digital tools to manage their workday better, to big life changing moments where technology helps people be independent at home. I talk to people every day and I share stories with them and help solve their problems, and for me, that is what I love about this industry. This is also why I want to encourage more incredible women to join and be part of shaping the future of technology.  

Helen Day-Cocking
Product Manager, Modern Workplace

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Employee Appreciation Day

Our People Are Amazing

Once upon a time, in a place not so very far away, but a long, long time ago, I used to be good at something. I can’t remember what it was but it was useful enough that people used to give me money for doing it. Some time later I became a manager and thus the slow journey of deskilling began. By the time I become a middle manager, my skills were limited to dealing with people problems and complaining that if it wasn’t for people, my job would be much easier. Time passes and the deskilling continues to the point where the only useful role left for you is a CEO. Now all I have to do is manage the people, who manage the people, who do the work. As we have good middle managers, this leaves me very little to do, which is frankly, probably for the best.

On Employee Appreciation Day I wondered if my employer appreciates the little bit I actually have to do. After all, Delt is a limited company which means it has ‘corporate personhood’. Many of the things people can do, companies can do in their own right. I assume that this includes being appreciative, but on further reflection, I cannot think of an example where the company has said thank you. Well, I guess that’s the downside of being a CEO.

As a real, rather than corporate, person (even if not an especially good one), I can certainly recognise, enjoy and show appreciation for the good qualities in the people who work with us.

Delt helps People Do Amazing Things, which has to be one of the best jobs you can have but knowing this is our mission statement isn’t quite the same as that being recognised by those we help, or those who work alongside us. In the latter case, I do try and remember to thank our team on a regular basis, not just on Employee Appreciation Day. I recognise that without every one of our employees we simply couldn’t do what we do. There are days we do things well, there are rarer days where we do things less well and, whilst frustrating, that’s usually not from a lack of effort. For my part I am very aware that my job is to Help the People who Help People Do Amazing Things. In my own right I don’t do anything very useful any more but our company does. Without our employees, nothing would happen. No good days, no bad days, because on our own, those of us who have the privilege of leading wouldn’t be able to do anything. Trust me when I tell you that I truly appreciate that.

Giles Letheren
Chief Executive Officer

Photo credit Heart photo created by cookie studio

10 reasons why adult learning is awesome!

10 Reasons Why Adult Learning is Awesome!

At DELT we value curiosity and encourage lifelong learning. With October being National Learning Month, we thought we would highlight the top 10 reasons why continuous learning is important.

  1. The structure of your brain changes every time you learn something new. The white matter in your brain is called myelin, and it helps improve performance on a number of tasks. The more you practice learning a new skill, the denser the myelin in your brain becomes. This, in turn, helps you learn better.
  2. Learners are earners. People who continually learn can earn more. People who earn a lot of money, in general, love to learn new things because they understand the importance of constant growth and development and the impact it has on the quality of their life as well as on their income.
  3. The rate of depression is lower for adults who are actively involved in learning activities.
  4. The more you learn the faster you learn.
  5. An oldy but a goody none-the-less – Knowledge is power. As we learn new things, we gain more knowledge which empowers us to achieve great things in life.
  6. It beats boredom. Find something you are really interested in and learn all about it. You should never find yourself saying, “I’m bored.” The wealth of material available to us, in a digital age, has never been more fruitful.
  7. Awaken your creativity. Learning new things can help you come up with new ideas. Your mind can become refreshed and you can begin to see things in a whole new light.
  8. Keep Your Brain Healthy and Your Mind Sharp. A study conducted by the University of California at Irvine in 2010 revealed that learning keeps your brain functioning at a high level. The brain is a muscle; continue to keep it in shape by giving it new challenges and opportunities for learning and growth is a form of exercise. According to Science Daily, mental facilities are best protected when they are used often and continued learning can slow the physical process of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  9. Sleep More Soundly. Just as when you exercise your body and it gets tired; when you exercise your mind, your mind gets tired too. Give your mind a workout by studying a new subject and reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
  10. Finally, you’re more likely to nail trivial pursuit this Christmas or even your next family Zoom quiz.

Lindsey Edmonds – Learning and Organisational Development Specialist