Making time, not having time

I hope by now you have heard of the new GCS Curriculum and about the improvements we’re making to Learning and Development in the GCS. If you haven’t, now would be a great time to read the new GCS guide to L&D, as everyone working in a central-Whitehall department will need to have put together a Personal Development Plan (PDP) by 30 April. I know many of you in Arm’s Length Bodies (ALBs) or non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), will be doing the same.

I am the Chair of the newly formed GCS Curriculum and standards board. It’s a role I’m genuinely excited about because I am passionate about learning and development. I know from my own experience, that the times when I’ve delivered work that I’m really proud of, or when I’ve made changes to the direction in my career, have come about because I’ve taken the time to stop, reflect and challenge myself to do things differently or better.

There is nothing wrong with going on courses – some of the best I’ve been on have given me a new perspective on myself, helping me to see my skills and my motivations in a completely fresh light. But they are not the only form of learning and development, or even the most important kind. Personally, I find podcasts stimulate my thinking (Sideways is a current favourite), as do magazine articles or books that are recommended to me (although I admit I rarely manage to make my way through a whole book – dipping in and out is fine). Even preparing for job interviews or to developing training sessions for others have prompted me to learn new things about myself, and set me on the career path I find so rewarding today. I’ve recently recorded a video for the GCS on the topic of resilience, and you’ll see that the most valuable lessons I’ve learned come from influences as diverse as Lao Tzu and Starbucks.

In my most recent roles as Director of Communications at the Home Office, DExEU and Department of Transport, there have of course been days when the thought of doing L&D on top of everything else would seem impossible. So believe me, I understand when I hear people say they just don’t have time.

But that is where I want to offer some challenge.

L&D is not about having time. It’s about making time.

My challenge to you is to take responsibility for prioritising learning and development in your schedule and be clear about the consequences of not doing so. There is no one-size fits all. If you’re in a central-Whitehall department, we’re asking you to invest 30 hours in developing yourself in this performance year and offering you a wide range of resources and support to do so. But how you use your hours is down to you. Take on a new assignment, contribute to a project to strengthen your team or organisation, get a mentor or be mentored, even watch my video. All of these count towards your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) total and the investment in you and our profession.

Here’s the deal. We’ll invest in providing you with the best learning and development offer we can. In return, I’m asking you to take your learning and development seriously. See the potential in yourself, your team, the GCS. You are the most important asset we have, and you’re worth investing in.

Together, we can take you and our profession to places we never thought possible.

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  • Simon Baugh (1)