The Deep Dive

An Eye On Assessment

Episode 1 - Leadership in STEM

Joining us for the inaugural episode of The Deep Dive is Stuart North of Quotient Sciences to discuss the challenges and rewards of identifying and developing effective leaders in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) organization.

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00:00:01 Hannah

Hello and welcome to The Deep Dive. I’m Hannah Mullaney, Client solutions director at Saville Assessment. And each episode I’ll be joined by an industry expert to discuss the hottest topics in assessment today.

Let’s dive in.

00:00:19 Hannah

Hello. Today we are talking about leadership in STEM and I’m joined by Stu North from Quotient Sciences.

00:00:27 Hannah

Stu, why don’t you kick us off by telling us a little bit about you and your career to date?

00:00:32 Stu

OK, so I’m currently a senior manager for learning development in quotient. I’ve been at Quotient nearly four years, it’ll be 4 Years at the end of September I in my career, I’ve probably described myself mostly as a as a behavioural facilitator and coach.

00:00:49 Stu

So, I started my career in contact centre for Royal Mail. I became a performance coach and then moved into the training team and back then it was like mail centres and systems and I was thinking no, it’s not a job for me, it’s a bit boring. But then I got into some like leadership development and that became a much more kind of behavioural focus. So, I did history and psychology at university and at that point I started to kind of utilise the psychology part of that.

00:01:23 Stu

And something for me is that I love to work with people. I want to know what makes them do the things that they do, whether they’re good things or bad things and that shift in training, and I’ve done that ever since. I’ve probably like last 12-14 years, probably. Actually now. Yeah. So, I think I’ve done more or less exclusively behavioural training. So, working in with more senior people. Doing some coaching, doing some facilitation, working with teams and you know, my overriding thing is, you know, principle in life I suppose is do what works. But if you if it’s not become aware of it and do something else.

So, awareness for me is that the bridge to effectiveness. Yeah. So yeah, you’ve got to reflect you’ve got to self-assess. You’ve got to be able to do those things, but I don’t think people do this very naturally, so I think this is where training and facilitation and coaching can really lend a hand, you know, so and then give people some models, some ideas to build on that awareness. Awareness is only as good as the someone’s ability to then do that thing differently and experimenting with that. This makes them more effective.

00:02:39 Hannah

Absolutely. And so what prompted just out of interest your move to Quotient sciences because that is quite a different organisation I feel to the organisations that you worked in previously?

00:02:51 Stu

Yeah. So, I mean, I’ve always worked for big corporates. The last two have been Royal Mail and Aon Energy, which is a massive global company. I left Aon through voluntary redundancy. So, I wasn’t really looking to change, but like when the when the opportunity came available, I took it and then I worked for myself for three months. And after about 2 and a half, I think, this isn’t gonna work.

00:03:16 Hannah

You need the people.

00:03:17 Stu

It was a lot of time on my own and not much time interacting with people other than the clients and the yeah and the pictures and that kind of Stuff. So, I was kind of looking around for opportunities.

00:03:31 Stu

You know, I was in a good position in the sense that I didn’t have to, you know, immediately find a job or anything like. So, I was looking for something with a good fit. And I did want something that was a bit small that I could take almost full control of, and Quotient was an excellent fit, so they didn’t have an L&D presence other than uh, one of the people function business partners at the moment. So, she was currently doing all that training. Umm so I was able to come in and kind of make it my own.

00:04:01 Stu

And I like that idea. So yeah, live by the sword die by the sword. So yeah. I was like, I’ll do what I think is right and if it fails then you know, I’ll have another go using something different. Yeah.

00:04:16 Hannah

And so thinking about our topic today, leadership in STEM organisations, what would you say are the main challenges from a leadership perspective?

00:04:32 Stu

I think stem organisations are quite different in the sense that they’ve got a high proportion of what I would, you’d probably call introverted, so from my experience, people in this type of organisation, they’re very focused, they’re very specialist, they maybe aren’t as good in terms of people skills, because you know they are more focused on the science.

00:04:58 Stu

The technological tasks that they’re looking to achieve, they will work with those people and some of them are really good at this. But in terms of leadership, you’ve got almost, you know, find a way of building that people’s interaction capacity, these organisations, as you know, the question is a good example of this is.

00:05:19 Stu

A lot of our results require lots of different departments working together. So, they’ve got to be good at handing things over at challenging each other in a positive way, and sometimes they haven’t developed those skills as much as you might find in a in a different organisation or a service organisation specifically. So I think the challenge of leadership is some of them don’t even want to be leaders.

00:05:44 Stu

Suppose they want to, you know, dedicate their time to the science, but they have to lead the people, coach the people develop their skills to develop their careers, and they might find that a little bit more challenging.

00:05:57 Hannah

And so I guess there are a couple of things there aren’t there.

00:06:02 Hannah

The kind of motivational piece. And then there’s the, I guess, the developing the capability piece.

00:06:12 Hannah

I’d quite like to go to the  developing the capability piece, but could we just touch on the motivation piece, because I think that’s a really interesting one. If you have a large population of individuals who aren’t interested in leading, what do you do with that? Do you try and entice them? Do you try and change their mind? Or if they don’t want it, then surely that’s kind of the first hurdle that they haven’t got over.

00:06:40 Stu

and again, I suppose you know a question in our interviewing skills. So a lot of these people move up the ladder internally.

00:06:49 Stu

You know when they like the science, like the company, we do have specialist roles. So we do have like formulation scientists that they can really specialise, never have to lead people, but they will be expected to join in effect a matrix team. So they might have to input into client calls that kind of Stuff. So really what we’ve done since I’ve joined the organisation has put a lot of time into what we would call a personal effectiveness offer.

00:07:16 Stu

So we schedule this every quarter. Part of this is dedicated to leadership. Part of this is dedicate to individual effectiveness and it’s things like assertiveness and customer service and things like that. So we offer that probably 6 to 8 courses every quarter and we also have a kind of an open avenue for people to kind of go. If you need something else come to us. We also offer some specific courses on leadership in terms of our internal recruitment.

00:07:48 Stu

One of our questions is you know, why do you want to be a leader?

00:07:51 Stu

And again, if they’re just doing it because they, you know, that’s the role or the career pathway, we do want to highlight that with them. You know there are expectations of being a leader in this role. You will be expected to lead other people, as well as progressive science. So it’s for them to be fully aware when they step into that role, what their obligations are, and we support them.

00:08:19 Hannah

So it’s the setting expectations piece, yes. And I guess until we solve the problem of vertical trajectories being the only trajectories, we’ll probably always have that problem.

00:08:30 Stu

Yes, yeah, yeah.

00:08:33 Stu

I think you’re completely right, I think it’s one of those things is that in organisations, not just it’s demo organisations, to progress up the ladder, you tend to have to attract a team and follow the leader team. We don’t often and I think this is a challenge for us.

00:08:49 Stu

Specifically in Quotient carve out space for people to do their best work without having to have the responsibility of leading other people. Yeah, and we could do more in that space.

00:09:00 Hannah

Yes, definitely. Maybe just a sort of loop back to one of the comments you made at the beginning. Quotient. Probably like many other STEM organisations, probably having a higher proportion of introverts within it.

00:09:18 Hannah

I think there’s a trend and I’m seeing this in a lot of places that are workplaces are becoming more sort of social, more collaborative, that we’re spending a higher percentage of our time in our jobs regardless of job, dealing with other people. Is that a trend that you’ve seen within Quotient as well?

00:09:41 Stu

I think we were on the cusp of that probably before COVID and COVID I’d I think COVID has probably set us back a little bit. There’s a couple of facets to this I think because when everyone’s in the office together that proximity uh created robust teams. You know, it can’t. Not really. And you’ll work alongside people day after day. You’ve got to find a way of interacting with them positively, even if you don’t like it, you know, and you people generally do because they’ve got to do it. Yeah. What the COVID has done, and you know, like many other organisations, we have a lot of people that are working from home at least part of the week, but we’ve got a lot of people that are on site most of the time because they’re rendered, labs are in science.

00:10:25 Stu

They’re doing science and there are there are places for people to kind of, you know, back away from the people interactions until it’s absolutely necessary. And I think this is a challenge that we’ve got. And I think other companies have got as well. We don’t want to force everyone back into the office, but we’ve got to find ways of creating meaningful connections across our matrix.

00:10:45 Stu

Teams and are functional teams because people aren’t there together all the time.

00:10:51 Hannah

Yeah. And so what’s the impact of that? Trying to or needing to really accelerate young leaders development in terms of that people.

00:11:11 Stu

Stuff. Yeah. And again, this is this is something that we’re trying to kind of progress. So when we are moving people into leadership positions, we’re trying to in effect give them a catalogue of choices for them to assess against so, this is where Saville has hel ped us a little bit, so we are doing webinars so I lead a number of webinars and I do those quarterly things, but we’re also utilising LinkedIn learning.

00:11:39 Stu

We’re also utilising abstract, which is like our micro learning platform, but what’s always allowed us to do is through those through that report, people can identify their, you know, lower scoring traits and what we’re trying to position in quotient is to kind of go. You’ll focus on your strengths, know what your strengths are.

00:11:59 Stu

You’ll do this naturally. Get better at doing those things. People tend to wanna do that anyway.

00:12:05 Stu

Because you know when you’re able to use your strands every day, you feel pretty good about, but what we’re also trying to do is mitigate any risks associated to the lower scoring tracks. So if people aren’t particularly good at feedback or teamwork or some of those things, we’re not saying everybody has to be exactly saying we’re not saying they want us to be a robot.

00:12:28 Stu

But what we’re saying is that at least get to a point where this doesn’t cause you any problems, so you know what’s the minimum amount of skill and competency and comfort that you need to be effective with that trait. If it’s teamwork, if it’s feedback, it’s something else, and then progress your development by things like abstract or coaching or LinkedIn learning or joining one of the scheduled courses and that allows them access to multiple different channels that might progress their skill in that area.

00:13:00 Hannah

Mm-hmm. Thanks for the plug there.

00:13:02 Stu

That’s alright. It’s my pleasure.

00:13:05 Hannah

You’ve talked a little bit there about some of the things that you’ve seen kind of working well in that space developing leaders in that in that kind of people space in stem.

00:13:21 Hannah

What are some of the things that you’ve seen that have maybe worked less well over the years?

00:13:26 Hannah

Could you talk to us a little bit about those?

00:13:28 Stu

Yeah. So I mean, and again, This is why we’re offering more of a multi-channel approach. So you know you probably you might call it blended learning I suppose.

00:13:40 Stu

What sometimes turns people off is that face to face facilitation in in, in stem so people get a bit anxious. You know, my in my experience of introverts is that they don’t mind turning up for training, but they don’t want to focus on them. They don’t want the attention on they don’t want to be pointed out in a group of even 12 people going, you know, “Hannah, what’s your thoughts?”

00:14:07 Stu

and it’s a lot of pressure and it causes anxiety and those kind of things. So you know the face to face, saltation has to be done in a way that creates a level of comfort. Yeah, So what hasn’t worked, sometimes, I think not just in quotient, but in in other organisations is that people are already feeling a little bit on edge, turning up for face to face facilitation. They don’t know if they’re going to get, you know, elevated into the spotlight and they don’t want that. They tend not to like the role plays, so much.

00:14:41 Hannah

I mean, who? Who likes the role plays that does not surprise me.

00:14:47 Stu

Well, I don’t mind a role, to be honest. But The thing is, what I’ve developed over the years is you’re working in small groups rather than role play doing some kind of planning to how would you deal with this situation?

00:14:58 Stu

Talk us through how you would you know, structure those sentences, structure that approach, that kind of Stuff. So it’s those kind of things that you only tweaked them slightly, but again it gives them a possibility of inputting into those things. Another thing that we’ve done quite a lot in our in our women, our facilitation is we’ve utilised something called rounds. So it comes from Nancy Kleins time to think book but more or less what you’re saying is I’m going to hear from everybody. This is the order, so you’ll give them the order of the people who are on the course, and you say if you don’t have anything to import, just say pass or move on to the next person.

00:15:37 Stu

So it gives introverts an opportunity to kind of really think about it before it’s their turn, and if they are feeling anxious, they can just say pass it on to the next person and that’s really helped as well.

00:15:45 Hannah

Mm-hmm. Kind of putting the structure in place because it doesn’t maybe happen as organically as if you were in the room with 10 extroverts.

00:15:51 Stu

Yeah, absolutely. And the thing is that they get fair warning. So it’s not like you’re just putting like, yeah, what’s your thoughts on it? It’s like, right, we’re gonna do this. This is how it works. You’ll have time to think and if it gets to you and you have anything to add to say. So they’re able to have a bit of thinking time to come up with what they want to.

00:16:10 Hannah

Import. Yes, definitely. I know one of the things that we’ve talked about before is sort of to mandate or to not. Could you maybe share your thoughts on that? Cause I think I’ve found some of the conversations we’ve had on that in the past quite interesting.

00:16:29 Stu

Yeah, personally, you know, I would never mandate any training mode of what it was. Where was safety training, whether it’s, you know, you know, training for, you know, their job skill. People gotta have a desire to, to learn if they don’t, they just make up the numbers, you know, and it’s an incorrect number. You know, you say you’ve trained 100 people.

00:16:54 Stu

How many people actually turned up didn’t listen to anything, changed no behaviour, built no awareness and just went back to the job doing exactly the same thing. So my all efforts on this is to pull people into wanting to do the training, to build the desire within them to kind of go. I think this would be useful.

00:17:14 Stu

So we spent quite a lot of time thinking about how we market our offer, how we describe it, how we kind of promote it internally. We are doing something at the moment in terms of like a twice a week. We’re doing a micro-Monday thing. We’ve got abstract. So, we’ll do a bit of a blog post on that L&D channel, that we will talk about something that’s related to the subject and then we’ll give them one piece of learning that they can access or not. And we do a similar thing on Wednesday that we call time to learn. It might be a 5-minute video, it might be 1/2 an hour. Course that’s on LinkedIn and we, you know, talk about something. So it’s kind of a pull strategy and our entire approach to learning from you know, personal, effective and leadership development is around we want you to want to turn up. Yeah. And if you if you don’t then don’t.

00:18:10 Stu

That being said, there are clearly people in the organisation that I think we really need everyone to do this training.

00:18:17 Stu

Again, I would always challenge to kind of go well. We need to make them wanna do it. We’ve got to give them a reason to turn up, because if we’re just saying turn up or not and do the training, yeah, they’re probably not gonna get full value.

00:18:30 Hannah

Sometimes I feel the people who maybe need to do the most work, or maybe the people that don’t think they need to do any work.

00:18:44 Stu

Yeah, I and I think there’s some truth in that.

00:18:46 Hannah

And how do you get those people to want to do the learning?

00:18:54 Stu

I think that’s always going to be a challenge because you know your self-awareness is a wonderful thing and some people are not very self-aware. And The thing is that, yeah, I suppose that you’ve got to kind of rely on their ability to self-assess.

00:19:12 Stu

We do try and you know, get feedback into the into the mix. So we’re working on our performance management and kind of formal process at the moment to try and make it a bit more connected to the work and a bit more, you know, smaller conversations more often, that form the formal process and that is an opportunity for people to give feedback to the individuals and you know from like managed to team member.

00:19:45 Stu

There’s no brilliant answer to this. It’s a kind of going “This is what the offer is. This is why it makes a difference”. if you’re interested in learning these things then turn up. But like I say, you know, not everyone either feels they need it or has a desire to kind of learn that that subject. So we’ll certainly try, but other than mandating it that you know they would probably still turn up…

00:20:18 Hannah

But they won’t actually get anything from it, and you won’t see any long-lasting behavioural change.

00:20:26 Stu

Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, we’ve all been in training sessions where people clearly don’t wanna be there and they are disruptive. Yeah. You know, they’re disruptive. They cause issues with learners. And, you know, in my entire career, I’ve only ever had to kick out two people, but it was on 2 mandatory courses.

00:20:43 Hannah

There we go. Well, that tells you everything we need to know about mandating we’ve talked, I guess a little bit or about the idea of sort of the people Stuff, perhaps being more challenging for kind of leadership development in in STEM organisations. really. Interestingly, when we’ve looked at some of the data that we’ve got and within our own leadership model, we sort of have these three buckets of leadership. So we’ve got our professional leaders, our people, leaders and then our pioneering leaders and what we found is that there seems to be a little bit of a kind of trajectory over time in terms of how these things develop. So on the professional side of things, people seem to kind of have that or pick that up very early in their career, particularly I guess in in specialist fields, the pioneering Stuff seems to come a little bit later.

00:21:35 Stu

Yeah, I agree.

00:21:46 Hannah

So that’s that seems to be correlated with work experience and the people Stuff you seem to either have it or you don’t, so that seems to be something that is either innate or maybe developed in in early childhood and then pretty stable over time.

00:22:03 Hannah

I always find it really fascinating to then talk to people who are in the world of leadership development about this idea of develop ability specifically thinking about these people skills, what’s been your experience to of, of sort of success in that space?

00:22:23 Hannah

Because I think it probably is one of the hardest things to do.

00:22:25 Stu

Yeah. I mean, I think of those 3 buckets, I think you’re completely right. The people skills, some people are naturally good at this. You know, they are just, they just seem to have it in them. You know, they might not even have a position of leader, but in meetings, they lead conversations, they influence it to people. They do all the things that a good person would do. They involve with the people they listen, they question, they’re curious all those kind of things.

00:22:55 Stu

Some people just naturally have it. When people don’t have it again, it kind of comes back to desire, really. And, you know, risk associated to it. I think there are only two ways of motivating people, I think. And I think Tim Robbins had this right. It’s pleasure and pain. You know what gives you more pleasure. What it gives you the avoidance of pain. And when people are moving up an organisation, what can be really painful for them is if they don’t do some of the people Stuff. Yeah. So they get feedback from their team members or their colleagues, kind of going, you know that people are moaning and groaning about certain things and that might be painful enough for that person to then motivate. And I need to do more of this. Yeah. They people tend to rely on, in my experience, your leaders, especially the things they are good at. And like you say, you know we learn the professional skills early on because it’s expected, you know, you expect to get to meetings on time, expected to get your work done. When you said you were going to do it to a high level of quality. So those professional skills, we developed them very early.

00:24:06 Stu

Pioneer and I think comes with confidence. The more skill experience you have in a particular area, the more you’re able to kind of go well. Well, could we do it in a different way? Let’s innovate. Let’s push the barriers a little bit, but the people skill, if you don’t do it naturally, it is hard to develop.

00:24:20 Stu

And again, it is linked to confidence, I think and the level of comfort is to kind of go right, Well, I want to engage this person. And how do I do it? And again, when we do training in these areas, a lot of our focus is you know, what do you currently do, you know what, what results are you kind of getting especially in our coaching conversations and the thing is, that once they start to go right, well, I’m not getting the results I’m getting in. So what do you wanna do different? What do you wanna be different? How do you wanna be different and what kind of things could you do?

00:24:53 Stu

Go away. Experiment with that might make a difference. And again, this is a little bit like baby steps is and you’re not expecting people to change overnight. No one ever does. But The thing is, he’s given them enough content to get, let them forge their own path. And if there are risks associated that they’re feeling pain about, they will do it.

00:25:12 Hannah

And what about on the pleasure side, the reward side, the carrot rather than the stick?

00:25:19 Stu

Yeah, yeah.

00:25:20 Stu

And again this is, you know, when they are doing these experiments. So you know, I always kind of called them behavioural experiments, but they probably aren’t. They’re just going out and trying things. So come to a course to learn a couple of things that they could go away and try to try it. It makes a small difference that is pleasurable for them. They kind of they see these cracks of light, you know these moments that actually matter to them and to their people, and that makes them feel good, you know?

00:25:47 Hannah

And their scientists, right?

00:25:48 Stu

Yeah. And again, they love an experiment, right. Yes. So again they. Yeah. They I purposely use that that terminology with them. Can you go you do this every day in the lab. So why don’t you just do it in your behaviour? All you’re doing is trying something. See what the results are and seeing if you could improve it over time. And once they you know, they see the responses that they’re getting improving, then they start to, you know, do it a little bit more and we’re all creatures of habit. At the end of the day, you know, if we do something, it works and we do it again it works even better. You’ll start to bring that into your everyday working behaviour.

00:26:24 Hannah

Do you think it’s possible to develop strong people skills in individuals who really struggle in that space?

00:26:38 Stu

I think you can develop anything. The key part is desire. So it’s desire awareness and experimentation is probably the three things that you need. If you don’t have the desire, you’ll never improve because your pleasure in playing is the are the two kind of great motivators. But at the end of the day, if you aren’t feeling a great deal of pain and you’re not seeing or seeking the pleasure involved in those kind of behavioural changes, you might not create much desire in yourself to make a change if there’s no desire. No matter how much awareness you build and then if you’re not aware, you might never experiment and the only other alternative then and I think there is some truth in this is if you need people to do certain things. You’ve got to change the structures that allow them to do it. Yeah. Uh, so you’ve got almost create ways of working that everybody is expected to do. So you almost force people into changing their behaviours. That’s a much more difficult and a much more prescriptive way of doing it but that’s your only other alternative. If you need a change to happen and people haven’t got the desire, you’ve gotta change the environment and the structure of what happens for everybody so that they almost force through that learning experience.

00:28:00 Hannah

And I guess there’s something I know we’ve talked about this in the work that we’ve done over the last year as well and I think you’ve alluded to it today as well around working with your strengths.

00:28:15 Hannah

Is acknowledging that there are different types of leaders who have different strengths. And if you have somebody, uh, who really doesn’t have the people Stuff, actually a really sensible thing to do is to get them a #2 who does have the people stuff.

00:28:33 Stu

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

00:28:35 Hannah

How much of that sort of planning do you do within quotient?

00:28:43 Stu

We don’t really put much into a kind of you know, complimentary team leadership I suppose. But I think you’re right in what you said a moment ago, is people can be any type of leader that they want. You know, introverts make excellently and you know you don’t have to be an extroverted person to be a good people person. But The thing is that you know, people follow the people they respect and they see as Good. And you know, I’ve got levels of influence, all those kind of things. So I mean, and this is one thing that I think is important in STEM organisations. If someone’s an excellent scientist and they’re leading scientists, they will be successful.

00:29:27 Stu

Because, you know, people see that in them, they recognise how good they are at that thing. And that might be the thing that connects them.

00:29:36 Stu

So yeah, if they want to develop, they’ll stick around with that leader. So I think people do follow uniqueness. You know, people that are they see as you know, good, useful whatever it is that it’s that kind of thing. So I think The thing is, you know, when we look at things like high potential for instance.

00:29:56 Stu

Our leadership traits and that kind of thing, There are lots of models out there, no one has all of those things.

00:30:02 Stu

And we’re not expecting everyone to have all those things, but at least have enough of those things to be able to hook your followers and you know, leaders aren’t leaders if they don’t have anyone that’s following them.

00:30:15 Hannah

Yes, that idea of kind of clever people want to be led by clever people I think stands really true. And I’ve definitely seen, uh, something similar to what you’ve just described there in tech organisations as well, where you’re, you know, you’re Head of IT or your IT Director is a superstar developer who is absolutely sort of looked up to by their team because of their knowledge and their skill and their expertise.

00:30:45 Stu

Well, I mean, credibility is a powerful thing, isn’t it? And when people look up and they go, that person is really credible. That’s maybe enough for him. Yeah. To think I’m gonna follow this person, yeah.

00:30:57 Hannah

We sort of skipped over pandemic and no conversation would be complete without a little bit of an exploration of uh, pandemic impact. So maybe just to go back to that before we close out. What would you say were the sort of additional challenges posed by the pandemic in a kind of leadership and leadership development in STEM organisations do you think?

00:31:28 Stu

Yeah. So, I mean it’s, it’s funny. I mean our approach was very proactive, very early I think in quotient. So as soon as we locked down like myself, and the other people functional leadership team got round table went, you know, how do we keep people engaged, not just in learning, but in the job. Everyone’s working from ARM. They’ve been forced into this, you know leaders aren’t going to be seeing the team, so we did a very quick assessment of we’ve got to be task based rather than time based. Yeah. So you know I don’t know why this happened, but we got into this space that if you’re in the office at 8:00 and you’re finished at 16:00 that’s all you know, you were. You were doing a great job. Yeah, and who knows what you were doing to you knows that. But people, as long as you turned up on time, you left, you know, the amount of hours you were due to being afterwards that seemed to be enough for a lot of leaders.

00:32:29 Stu

So, now we’ve moved a lot of people out into their homes and they didn’t know when they were clocking out, clocking off and. And so we had some focus on. Right. You need to be setting tasks, setting timelines, setting deadlines, and talking to your people as often as possible to kind of check in on how they’re doing, checking on the way and making sure they’re aware of what they’re doing that kind of Stuff. And so we did that in terms of learning development, what we did very, very early on is we were one of the first people I think to buy their zoom licence when everybody bought them and we put on a couple of monthly webinars and they were all linked to our schedule catalogue, but it was literally open to the entire company. So leaders and everyone. So we sent out the invites to you know 1200 people.

00:33:16 Stu

And we had one that was UK one that’s for the US they could join each others, but we had them at slightly different times. So that the people in the US, they could access the webinars at a time that suited them.

00:33:30 Stu

And we did that for the entire time of COVID. And because we weren’t doing in face-to-face training, we were doing that often and it allowed the company, you know, we were getting upwards of 150, 160 people on each of these webinars just because it gave them a chance to feel connected to someone in the company. It kind of made me a bit of a mini like TV presenter. I remember once it we opened up I went down to our reading site and I walked through the door and I was going into the into the office and someone went “Oh my God, it’s you.”


Yeah, you know like some kind of TV star. It was interesting because, you know, once I started visiting the other sites, once it started opening up. Everybody felt like they knew who I was.

00:34:28 Stu

And in reality, they probably did. But they I think they felt they knew because I was the one that presented all these things every single time. So it was it was. It was interesting how that had, like, kept L&D alive in the company to bring it back to kind of leadership I think. Yeah. We did a number of webinars on remote working and leading and remote work and how you can connect and we created this thing called “chat shops”. I don’t know if the other organisations call it this, but it was a 15-30 minute conversation with a team member. Not relate to work. Just have a bit of a chat, have a bit of a catch up, find out how they’re doing dropping in on them from time to time, make sure they’re OK.

00:35:12 Stu

And that was utilised by quite a lot of people in the company it’s worked very well.

00:35:19 Hannah

So final question. What would be your top three pieces of advice for folk working in leadership development in STEM organisations?

00:35:38 Stu

Well, that’s a good one.

00:35:43 Stu

I suppose some form of assessment, some form of ability to allow people to assess themselves

00:35:51 Hannah

Mm-hmm. Something like Wave.

00:36:02 Stu

Yeah. So something like Wave would be useful. And keep it active and available. So, you know, one of the things that we we’ve done, and we do this now and again, we aren’t doing it consistently, is have it available so that people can just request it whenever they felt it was necessary. So yeah, we did with Saville last year. We did a thing called “potential at Q” and we did it as all in one go. So this is your window to do it. Personally, I think it would be you know better, and I’m thinking about doing this over next year is just have it constantly available so that people can access it whenever they feel like they want to. So some form of assessment that gives them some, you know, valid information to kind of base their development direction on.

00:36:48 Stu

I think the other one, the next thing is give them enough channels so that they can take control of their learning. So whether it’s your mentoring programme or a coaching programme or facilitated scheduled offer or LinkedIn learning or another LXP or something on those lines. People learning many different ways. Uh, so give them plenty of opportunities to, you know, seek those things.

00:37:08 Stu

I think probably the third one, give them time, you know, in organisations everyone’s busy and I hear this all the time. Like I don’t have time to do this every time I have a scheduled course, “a client call has come up” so you know if we want people to learn we want to take it seriously. We want to give them your time. So even if it’s, you know, an hour a week or two hours, uh, you know, a month or whatever it is, get them to have some dedicated time to at least reflect on what they’re doing. So, yeah, I think we could do more in that space I think.

00:37:51 Hannah

Stu, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you very much.

00:37:58 Stu

Thank you from me as well.

00:38:05 Hannah

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode of the Deep Dive. If you have, please remember to like and subscribe to stay tuned for all our latest content.

If you want more information on any of the topics you’ve heard today, check out the show notes for case Studies, resources, and articles. I’ve been Hannah Mullaney.

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