South East Water + ETS, Prioritising Talent Development

Prioritising talent development at South East Water

South East Water’s (SEW) engagement survey highlighted the need for them to focus on talent development and career progression to improve their employee experience. Relatedly, employees reported some inconsistency in how they measure talent and offer career progression.

SEW was quick to act on these findings, creating three key people objectives for their corporate plan – to define talent with a consistent approach, identify and retain talent and develop skills required to deliver their strategic plan.

Their next step was to invite ETS to propose a development programme, which would be run first for a small group of senior managers, with a view to later rolling out to other populations.

ETS worked closely with the SEW organisational development team to understand their context and aspirations. This involved leading stakeholder interviews, focus groups and a further diagnostic with delegates to pinpoint development areas that would have the biggest impact, both for individuals and SEW overall. Five areas of opportunity were identified around leading people, influence and impact, strategic focus, change management and business acumen.

ETS recommended a ‘Design by Delivery’ approach, with an MBA style programme lasting 12-18 months. This was split into three stages: ‘Leading myself and other people’; ‘Leading the business’ and ‘Leading with an outside focus’.

Learning was multi-faceted with cross-sectional talent working in teams on projects to benefit SEW and the community. Other elements included shadowing to broaden knowledge and reduce ‘silo’ working and facilitated face-to-face and expert-led sessions.

The programme’s success was to be largely assessed by the outputs of a 360 feedback process, along with qualitative coaching outputs. Delegates completed 360 feedback and coaching beforehand to obtain a base measure of competencies, and again afterwards, providing rich data to gauge progress.

The 360 exercise straight after the programme end revealed rises across all seven SEW competencies measured and a significant uplift around ‘seeing the bigger picture’. Further evidence of the programme’s impact came from SEW’s subsequent engagement survey scores relating to career development with results showing a significant +7% increase for that section score.

Read the full case study here.