How Grant Thornton accommodates continued development!

nick

Hi everyone, I’m Nick and I’m a Manager in the Business Consulting team in Finsbury Square. As a member of the Spilling the Beans team in my ‘trainee years’ it’s great to be back on Spilling the Beans sharing my stories and experiences with you – I hope you enjoy my blog on how I’ve felt Grant Thornton has accommodated my continued development.

When you first joined the firm, what type of support were you given to help you settle in?

Everyone who joins the firm received a buddy and a People Manager.. These people each play a key role in ensuring new members of a team have a smooth joining process and feel a part of the firm from the moment they accept the offer. When I accepted my offer to be a tax graduate in Southampton, there was about 18 months before I actually joined the firm – during this time I had regular email contact with my buddy, a member of the tax team who had been a new graduate joiner only a year or two before. As this person was fresh into the role, they could give me a genuine insight into what life was like as a trainee – what issues they faced, what scared them before joining, and what I shouldn’t be concerning myself with. My buddy continued to answer these questions and be a useful support person for a good few years into my career, too!

Once I had joined the firm, I was also allocated a people manager who was responsible for helping me identify my strengths and focus areas. While there is a little more formality to the people manager role ( largely due to the fact that this is the person who you complete your annual performance review with) I have always been fortunate to have well grounded and approachable people managers. Now, I have a coffee or a beer with my people manager once a month – we talk about what’s going on, what I need to focus on to grow and how he can help open doors for me to do that.

How were you supported in order to achieve your goals?

In professional services, there is a constant focus on people development. Because we, the people, are often the product of our work, we need to make sure that we are constantly building ourselves – both in terms of technical ability and interpersonal skills. During the six years I’ve spent with the firm, I’ve always had a high focus on developing in the areas where I know I’ve got weaknesses.

Our firm works within a “coaching culture”, which means that all people at Grant Thornton are trained to deliver confidence building and constructive feedback. This means that every time I carry out a task or have a client meeting, I can get really useful feedback from my colleagues in what I could be doing differently or better next time. This, has allowed me to maintain a steep learning curve and continually build my skillset.

What different types of job have you been involved in?

In those six years, I’ve had a wide variety of roles within the firm – these being both in “the day job” where I’ve been working with client in tax, corporate finance and consulting and also on several internal projects within the firm. These have included working on the Spilling the Beans team, facilitating numerous workshops at Bradenham (our national training centre), working with our People & Brand team to look at how we improve internal mobility within the firm, representing the Business Consulting team as a CLEARR Rep and most recently helping to set up our employee reward scheme. Each role has provided a different stretch for me and helped satisfy my hunger for variety.

Have you had much direction over your career?

Absolutely, but not for free. I have a clear view on this, and how it works at Grant Thornton. Our people are encouraged to follow their career paths and carve-out their own opportunities – and from the moment you walk in the door this is a part of our culture. However, it has to come with some appreciation and respect for the value it will create for both you, your team, and the firm overall. Clearly, undertaking an activity which is fun, but doesn’t add value to one or any of these areas, is a poor use of time. Whenever I think about how I’m going to use non-chargeable time, I am always looking to maximise the value I can add in those three areas. As a result, my team are supportive of me in looking for opportunities to grow, both in the team and in the wider firmI do believe that the responsibility for growth rests on the shoulders of those individuals who are looking to push themselves. So there’s loads of encouragement, but no freebies.

What mechanisms are in place to ensure that you are continually developing?

These mechanisms come in two main forms.

Firstly, there is a performance management process which all of our people are required to adhere to. This involves an annual performance review meeting with your people manager and an appraisal document where individuals are encouraged to reflect on their performance over the year and assess themselves against a performance framework. This is also an opportunity for people to think about the goals they want to have for the year ahead which will stretch them. We have an interim review halfway through the year, and any additional performance related meetings are there if needed (I mentioned above I have them once a month to keep up the focus).

Secondly, as mentioned before, there is a coaching culture within the firm and there is always an opportunity for people to ask for feedback on their work or performance. As this is built into our values and behaviours, it is a natural way for our people to learn from their experiences. Whenever I’m doing something new or unfamiliar, I’m regularly checking in on progress and asking for feedback.

What’s next?

So, we’re half way through this financial year and I’m starting to set my sights on the next promotion, with a view of moving to associate director next year. As a result, I’m focused on proving that I can do the role and not present a risk to the firm and our team. This means taking on plenty of new responsibility, leading on projects and engagements, and building my technical abilities. My goals for this year are all focused on doing just that, so with fingers crossed I’ll be able to keep building and secure that new role!

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog, if you’ve got any further questions about how the firm supports continued development, or indeed any aspect about my career/role at Grant Thornton, please feel free to comment below or email me on nick.a.breadner@uk.gt.com

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