Mightify: Closing Time
As Mightify closes its doors, it seemed a good time to look both back and forward. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone who has been part of the team, clients, partners and supporters. I will remain a massive advocate for people across public and emergency services.
There are, however, still many areas and behaviours I'd like to challenge that are slowing the pace of required positive change - so here's an overview of how I see the landscape.
On paper, the pieces of the puzzle seemed (to me at least) to fit together logically when I started this journey in 2015:
1. A pool of talented, hard-working and skilful people who'd never really been shown what they could do or where there abilities might lead them
2. Consistently complex and ambiguous work to be done: fundamental to society, requiring people with both life and professional skill as well as resilience, drive and integrity.
3. A wider job market placing an ever-growing importance on ability, experience and purpose over certifications and classroom training
4. An evolving world of work where careers are made up of discrete but connected chapters, rather than one long epic. All aligned to "who you are" as much as "what you do"
5. Deepening understanding that without healthy, engaged and supported people, no organisation gets very far.
A win-win, then - if we applied our solutions. Drawing on our own experiences (good, bad and unbelievably ugly), our professional skills and a drive to make things improve, we'd achieve some clear and mutually beneficial goals.
The emergency services (see also Education, Prisons, NHS...) would better retain and develop talent, stopping the overriding and hugely expensive recruitment strategy of pouring water into a bucket full of holes. They would become an employer of choice across all backgrounds in a competitive talent market.
The business world would have access to a new talent stream of people whose previous role might not have been titled "Project Manager" or "Engagement Lead" - but they hadn't half managed some projects or led some engagement.
Finally, wouldn't we all want the most crucial public services to be delivered by people who have had adequate breaks, sleep, food, support and investment to go alongside the goodwill (and Haribo) they continue to function on?
In a nutshell: Unconditional Positive Regard. When people are seen, safe and supported they do amazing things. Now that this chapter is coming to an end, how did we do?
The first sign that we made an impact is the joy I find in seeing former clients or course attendees pop up on LinkedIn with new roles all over the globe. The second is having embedded the idea of recruitment, retention and resettlement as a connected thread worth investing in within some forward-thinking services. The third is the heartening knowledge that there truly are the right people in many of the right places to continue this change. I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute of the events and courses we ran over 5 years - even back in the early days when I was mostly speaking to myself in empty rooms. Of course also there is satisfaction in having been able to offer support to those who otherwise had none, but that is tinged with anger and frustration that they were ever in such an avoidable position.
There is also a continued challenge, though. How can it be acceptable that we lose more police officers and paramedics to suicide than the line of duty? Far more, in fact. I'd tell you the stats but they often aren't even recorded officially. Is it acceptable that action still seems to take the form of doing surveys or "awareness" campaigns? How can it be acceptable that people society relies on only get access to decent rehabilitation, recovery and support when they contribute out of their own pay - and even then that help is provided by charities. Would you expect to see a professional sports team check the status of a player's fees before they sent on the stretcher during a game?
I recognise and applaud the work of many people and charities here - they are incredible. The point is more about the top-level approach and investment. It's about seeing that all these areas - work, career progression, wellbeing, opportunity, feeling stuck or institutionalised - are all interdependent.
On workforce development, there's a long way to go too. Suffice to say for now, for those who may read this and be feeling stuck or undervalued - you are capable of more than you think, and the key is to be more (not less) boldly yourself. If you need to change your environment to be able to do that - change it. It can be done, it has been done thousands of times and it will continue to be, by people just like you. Spend time and effort understanding exactly what you can offer a new challenge (and what it offers you) and then practice and prepare to sell that story to the people who can make it a reality.
Whether you prefer your wisdom from Seneca or Semisonic, this seems apt:
"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end".
Resources to follow, recommendations and people to connect with:
For career and personal coaching: Pete Weaver
For intelligent and person-centred financial planning: Dan Haylett
For all things resilience and mental health in critical occupations: Prof. Jo Clarke / Petros
For the creative and marketing skills that spread the Mightify word and meant anyone ever read my ramblings in the first place: Kate Fletcher
Help and support for emergency services (all of which need your support and donations if you can!):
For live job openings, peer support, networking and ideas, the Mightify LinkedIn group will remain open and I'll manage it as a volunteering cheerleader for your success!