News – 27 January 2022
Our Learning & Development (L&D) Advisor, Shane, has more than 20 years in the training sector, but is relatively new to the world of housing.
He’s part of a four-strong L&D team, committed to nurturing our colleagues so they thrive in their current roles and are prepared for the future world of work and technology.
Shane said: “To me, proper investment in L&D is crucial to a successful business. I’m well aware that not everyone holds it in such high esteem, so I’m grateful that my Grand Union colleagues appreciate its importance.”
“As part of L&D at Grand Union, I want to enable people to be the best versions of themselves. It’s rewarding seeing the self-esteem and confidence of colleagues increase and in turn, that results in business success too.
“One of the biggest challenges we face in L&D is getting colleagues to transfer the knowledge they use in training courses to their day jobs. This is something we’re determined to address through blended learning; providing different types of engaging training for people to access. We aim to provide tools and approaches that make collaborative learning exciting.”
Shane’s passion for L&D has grown throughout the years working in the sector, seeing the benefits of investing in colleague development and training resources.
“Shortly after leaving school, I took up a managerial position in retail. This led to my first role in L&D, as a customer trainer with Homebase. It was the first position of its kind to be implemented at the company, so I felt priveleged to be part of the transformation.
“I worked for Homebase for several years, during which time I’d experienced different leadership and L&D strategies. There were constant changes and adaptations so, even as the years ticked by, it never felt stagnant or tedious.”
In 2018, after a family member fell ill and required extra care, Shane decided to take a job closer to home, for a facilities management company.
“I was delighted that, just nine months after joining the company, I was promoted to the role of an L&D manager. I enjoyed gaining new experiences, such as training new apprentices and overseeing professional qualifications. I developed new strategies and helped improve the company’s Learning Management System (LMS) too.”
Like so many others, Shane’s work was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, and he was furloughed. Determined to make the best of the situation, Shane began searching for a new job. That’s when he came across Grand Union.
“I was drawn to the world of housing as it was a sector alien to me, so I thought it would be a good challenge and a chance to learn something new. I also knew someone at Grand Union, who recommended the organisation to me; it seemed like a great place to work.
“I was delighted to be offered a permanent role as a L&D Co-ordinator and am enjoying the change of pace that working in housing has brought. Unlike retail, it feels less pressurised. It isn’t just about hitting deadlines and targets, but we look at the bigger picture and have room to think about the best outcomes for different colleagues.
“I was immediately pleased to see teams working together from different departments, collaborating to achieve common goals. There was no issue of silo mentality.”
Having joined Grand Union in September 2020, Shane has played a pivotal role in launching our in-house learning Centre of Excellence, the K2 Academy.
The K2 Academy inspires our colleagues to reach their full potential by taking personal responsibility for their learning and professional development.
“It’s been a pleasure to help launch the K2 Academy, something innovative, that we can all be proud of. We’ve delievered some fantastic training as part of our bespoke ‘Leadership Elevator’ programme, including Aspire, Firm Foundations and Operations Leaders courses. These are tailored to invidivuals at different stages of their career, providing leadership training for those in colleague or managerial positions.
“I’ve also really enjoyed hosting some shorter courses, on topics such as emotional intelligence, presentation skills and mentoring. Designing these training sessions and delivering them to enthusiastic colleagues is definitely a very rewarding part of my role.
“Having had a successful first year of the K2 Academy, we’re looking forward to it going from strength to strength in years to come. As coronavirus restrictions are reduced, it will be great to host more courses in person and we’re even hoping to share the K2 Accademy resources to other housing associations.”
Going forward, Shane has a staunch focus on evolving L&D at Grand Union, particularly through delivering the second year of the K2 Academy and digitalising learning opportunities.
“A key part of my role going forward will be working with our LMS provider, Skillgate, to ensure training is personalised to colleagues. We will achieve this through artificial intelligence, which is something I’m really excited about.
“The best part of my role is definitely helping colleagues see their own potential. It’s about helping them be the best versions of themselves, more conscious and curious about their own development.
“There are moments, such as in coaching meetings, in a classroom or even through online training courses, where connections are made with colleagues. It’s about helping people draw conclusions about their own development and making the most of opportunities where they can learn and flourish.”