One of the things that motivates me about working in a mid-sized organisation like Viridian is that we have the opportunity to tap into people’s potential. Individual potential is far more visible in a small organisation than in a larger one. We can take bright, young people, identify their potential and help them reach it.
Being in a organisation that’s growing so fast, we also have to take more risks with individuals than in a larger organisation. While in a large organisation someone may have a couple of years to consolidate a particular role, we don’t have that luxury in a fast-growing business like Viridian. We have to back people and have faith in their abilities. This means some of our people, like our Head of Finance and our Head of VPM, are relatively young and running significant businesses.
With experience, I’ve developed a sixth sense around people who have the hunger to succeed. I help them by taking the time to understand their disempowering beliefs and then trying to unshackle them. This requires bespoke coaching and development which is something you don’t always have the luxury to do in a large organisation.
One of the most common disempowering beliefs that I see is around self-confidence. People benchmark themselves against their peers. Some may believe that another person has more confidence or is better than them in a particular area. Others believe they’ll be successful if they just work really hard, rather than focusing on what they’re actually achieving.
In a past organisation I recall working with a woman who was high achieving but she received feedback that she was aggressive in the way she approached things. We used a 360-degree tool to help her understand how that behaviour manifests itself and why people concluded that she was aggressive. Part of the reason she demonstrated those behaviours was because she was under a lot of stress with her work/life balance. So we looked at how we could help her balance her workload so that stress didn’t manifest itself in that way.
Another way that I identify people’s disempowering beliefs is by sitting in on performance discussions. By hearing what a person wants to achieve, I can then identify where we can help them. For example, they may believe they lack experience or age. I can often help them break through this disempowering belief with bespoke coaching, getting them involved in strategic projects or giving them more exposure to management.
Sometimes an individual may recognise their disempowering belief but believe it’s just who they are. I believe that with the right support most people can be coached to move through their disempowering beliefs rather than being defined by them.
Being able to tap into an individual’s potential and coach them is what motivates me personally. When I’ve led HR functions in larger corporates, I was often frustrated by my inability to really make a difference to individuals. At Viridian, I have the luxury and privilege of being able to work with individuals at a very intimate and bespoke level so they can build the career they desire. This means I can make a difference to not only the individual staff member but to the organisation as well. That’s what makes working at Viridian rewarding for me.
Rita Agati is Human Resources Director at Viridian Advisory