TDM Academy – Week 10 – Q & A

Round up, round up… we’ve arrived in double figures in our training weeks. This week brings the passing of two further probations for our trainees.

This week we’ve changed things up from our normal style and have been speaking to our team leaders out on the sales floor to find out how having a trainee in their team has not only impacted the workload but the team as a whole – dynamics, strength and management styles.

Read below for our chat with Tom Munden, who heads up Commercial and Construction, and Faye Angeletta, who heads up New Homes Sales and Marketing. For context, initially Tom had three of the trainees go into the Commercial and Construction team and Faye had one of the trainees go into the New Homes Sales and Marketing team, having wanted a change.

How do you think the trainees have settled in into your teams?

Tom: Well, it was quite a big change having three additional people in the team initially, but the guys seem to have adapted well to being one of the larger teams in the business now, whereas before we were a bit smaller. On another note we were all lads before so getting the girls engrained has been a good thing! We’ve changed our approach up sometimes and definitely become more open as a team, both in terms of doing things outside of work and sharing the workload.

We do have a team split in terms of construction and commercial and Jack is Amy’s mentor and team leader on a daily basis, so he leads her more however they get on really well and produce really good results together. The other two sit in commercial directly working with me so I tend to be more aware of what they bring in on a day to day basis.

Faye: I think well! At first we just had Serena so we all made a real effort to get to know her and to include her in team events and in jokes, but now we have had Megan join us so we’re back to getting to know each other again and developing a flow as a team. Megan wasn’t with us when we had our first session on what makes a team strong, so I’m keen to get her involved on the next session and find out what she thinks that other teams do well that we could improve on, and from being with us for a couple of weeks what she thinks that we do well.

How has having a trainee in the team impacted on the wider team?

Tom: It’s been good for the guys in the team to learn how to manage even though they weren’t necessarily at that management level prior, in terms of career steps within the business. One of the mentors in the Construction and Commercial team is at Consultant level but shown us another side to him that we hadn’t seen before, so it’s made them more rounded as team members too. On a management basis I think it’s enabled them to see how hard I work every day too, and the ‘behind the scenes’ leadership duties that I have to perform that they didn’t necessarily know about or recognise before! One thing we did was involve them in the probation meetings so they’ve had a real insight to leadership throughout the process at each stage and so they’ve really seen their trainee develop. I think it’s really developed their confidence.

Likewise, as I said earlier, the trainees have an alternative point of view on things; they’ve worked in other teams here and they’ve also worked in other companies before coming here so have a fresh take which allows us to be reflective on how we work.

Faye:The wider team have really developed in how they want to get involved with newcomers into the business. When the academy initially started, we revamped TDM’s approach to the academy and have made it entirely business centric this time round, so now people have seen the impact of the academy and the team have seen how the trainees have settled in, they all want to get more involved on the next round, which is really positive moving forwards.

And the workload?

Tom:The trainees work really hard, they astound me with how they just keep going and going, even when things get tough, because we all know recruitment can be really full on. In terms of that, the work that they’ve done in terms of researching, candidate sourcing and market mapping, has created an influx of incoming candidates and a real rush of applications. From this we’ve been able to develop our areas.

We were also inundated with work, and having the extra resource has enabled us to move faster in terms of deadlines and timescales. They talk to a whole host of new people and they use LinkedIn a lot to resource new candidates so open up a wider and more available market. Rob is great at going out and finding candidates to speak with and so he has been a real boost to the team.

Faye: The output is correlated to the input – the work that they do to support their mentors and the wider team is really important and I can see them already starting to build their own desks and knowledge of the area that they are working in. As a team we are getting more interviews as we have more readily available candidates and so on a positive note things are busy in the world of sales! Serena has the time and dedication for those long ‘getting to know you’ conversations, which she really excels at, so she is building great candidate relationships.

How have you enabled them to settle in?

Tom: We’ve made an effort to see everyone outside of work too, so that everyone can really get socially engrained. We went to the pub in the first week to get to know each other and I took my team on ‘foot golf’ a couple of weeks ago on an early finish Friday. Business wise, Louise has been running meditation sessions and discussion tables on what makes a strong team. Having new people in the team has really given us a different perspective on what other teams do well, and what we do well, as the trainees have tried and tested each team before settling in Commercial and Construction. From this we’ve implemented some great ideas that have really helped us move forwards as a team, and I do think that we’ve developed stronger team dynamics.

On a mentoring basis, each of the guys in Commercial and Construction who have a trainee that they are mentoring have made the effort to get involved regularly with what the trainees are getting up to and having frequent catch ups.

Faye:Having Megan move across into Sales after Serena has enabled us to see what did and didn’t work with Serena and then implement them with Megan. I’ve worked closely with Megan settling her in and setting her up, so that she has a full understanding of how we work, as it is different to Commercial and Construction. With Serena, she had a mentor who led her on a daily basis so I wasn’t involved so much, but simple things like having her in the meditation session and inputting on what makes us a strong team has grown those bonds and entrenched her in the team, and likewise riding the highs and lows of sales – when we’ve gone home early as we’ve achieved our interview target and likewise when we haven’t quite hit it so have been left as four of us in the office on a Friday when everyone else has gone off home!

Have you seen change in the trainees from when they first came into the business as to where they are now?

Tom:Their confidence has come on leaps and bounds, they’ve flourished and are open to putting ideas on the table – be it socially, workwise or even to do with the team dynamics. They’re happy to get involved and answer the phones immediately and sometimes even try and take workload off of us! We’ll all be out of a job soon if they carry on!

Faye:I agree with Tom, their confidence and their successes have been outstanding. They now work autonomously but aren’t afraid to ask if they need assistance or direction, and they really do own their own tasks. For the first time ever we have had two trainees voted as Employee of the Month in succession and I think this has been a real character builder, as well as a wider business boost as everyone wants to be involved in the upcoming academies and work closely to improve not only others but themselves, so the academy programme as a whole has really made an impact.

So, it’s been a while since you’ve been in the shoes of a trainee! How does leading a junior member of staff on a daily basis enable you at work?

Tom:What I do has become a second nature to me; I enjoy my job, the candidates and clients that I work with and activities such as headhunting, researching and even those introductory phone calls come naturally to me – I pick up the phone and just do it without thinking about how I do it if that makes sense, however when I get a job in that I think it would benefit one of the trainees learning to assist with then I have to stop, think about what they need to do and how I teach them to do it, so it’s been a really reflective process.

Faye:I joined the business three years ago in a trainee role with no recruitment experience whatsoever but a great sales background, having relocated out of London to live in Faversham and just not being able to commit to the commute consistently, so had to rejig things about. When I joined it was sink or swim – and with people to support I had to swim, so I had to grab the opportunity with both hands and really run and succeed with it. This has been imperative in my success, because I did it all myself and grew organically to where I am now. In terms of this I can remember what it’s like to be starting out and how I would have benefitted from an academy, so it’s great to start out the next tier on their career journey.

Any stand out successes that the trainees have had since joining your team?

Tom: You know what, they’ve all done so great and they’ve achieved better results than we could have expected. Our team is hard going at times and really full on, but they’re all prepared to work extra hours if needed and really go above and beyond. They’ve all had interviews and offers and have set the example for success going forwards, particularly for benchmarking when the new academy starts in September.

Faye:I think that they main success that Serena has had coming into my team is definitely her confidence. She has developed leaps and bounds and now I do see that she believes that she can do it. She was voted Employee of the Month, for the second month going for a trainee and hats off to her, she has bounced back after a hard start, and for her to realise that the seniors within the business recognise this – well, it’s just priceless really isn’t it! Following her confidence boost we’ve had interviews and offers for candidates Serena has been in contact with left, right and centre.

What difficulties have had to be overcome for them to settle into your team?

Tom:Well, we’re quite a lads team so had to approach things in a slightly different way socially! I suppose in that sense, team dynamics were my real focus at first, to ensure everyone was happy. We took down the dividers between the desks and its made things really open, and sat the trainees near their mentors but still engrained in the team so they can really join in.

One thing we’ve had to work on is job sharing – at first everyone wanted to go full steam ahead and work on the jobs we knew straight away, but we have to take a step back and teach instead. But, that being said, as a team we’ve sat down and focused on why this is the case and how we improve going forwards.

Faye:Everyone has a different way of working and we’ve had to adapt both our leadership and working styles to how they work, and likewise get them to do the same back. Having someone join us at a later stage in the academy readdresses the team dynamics – and the hardest part is now we are such a big team how and where do we all sit! We are now the biggest team in the business, so we have the highest overheads and I need to make sure that everyone is working efficiently and succinctly to achieve and enjoy what they are doing. We want a team of happy (and knowledgeable, successful) campers here! Serena had a real bounce back from something that happened early on, and knowing that sometimes difficult things happen in recruitment and you have to get back on that horse and keep riding has been imperative for her development.

Where next?

Tom:Onwards and upwards! We’ve got another academy starting in September and as a team we’re really looking forward to having a new influx of starters with yet another new way of thinking and approaching tasks. One of the key areas to build is the construction desk, so hopefully we will have a great new trainee in the team and we can continue to grow and succeed as we are on course to do!

Faye:I’m looking forwards to getting involved in the next academy more and even taking on a trainee under my wing specifically. I know that recruitment can be up and down and can be really hard, so imparting that is really important to me so that they can sustain a good and healthy career from the get go.