Soon after I started at Redwings, I popped into an NVQ presentation by one of our grooms. I'd wanted to find out how our staff affect the horses' day to day care. I came out with much more than that - the groom suggested a way to feed special care horses and we cascaded it across the whole sanctuary.
That was nearly a decade ago and that groom has since moved on, but the value of direct engagement with staff has remained with me. I joined the charity at a time of growth and change as the organisation was going through a merger, so I had to find a way to engage the staff and get them to support my vision for the future.
That presentation confirmed to me how important it is to listen to all our staff and to recognise and implement good suggestions wherever they might come from within the charity. We benefit as an organisation from our staff expertise, and it boosts and builds employee morale. I have taken this principle across the management team and encourage them to speak to staff and ask questions - whether in a formal staff forum, something I introduced early on in my tenure before it was a requirement, or while they stride through the centre at lunchtime.
Regular engagement with staff ensures that the charity's management is not faceless. It gives us the opportunity to find out what is happening on the ground, and staff know that we care, that we are approachable and that we are interested.