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Development roles and what they can offer

Our Human Resources and Organisation Development team is supporting the development and progression of Professional Services staff through development roles.

Several departments have recruited staff into development roles, most notably our Accommodation and Commercial Services team, who have provided several internal opportunities over the last two years.

Dialogue spoke to Karen Richardson, who completed her development role, to find out more about her experience.

Karen Richardson
Karen Richardson

Hands-on development opportunities      

Karen completed her development role of Trainee Housekeeping and Cleaning Services Supervisor from September 2021 until June 2022, when she was successfully appointed to a permanent supervisor role.

During this time, Karen progressed through a development plan to gain further experience and skills in supervising others, whilst undertaking a range of different learning opportunities – from development workshops and eLearning to on-the-job training.

What made you apply for a development role?

It started when I got made redundant from a supervisor role where I’d worked for 24 years – which is when I started in my cleaning role at the University – but I wanted to do more.

‘’After applying for a supervisor role, and being unsuccessful, I found out about a development role where I could learn on the job – and get paid to do it!

‘’I applied as I thought it would give me exposure to the supervisor role, help to gain more site knowledge and be a better candidate if a supervisor role ever became available again.’’

What skills have you gained as part of completing the development role?

Confidence! I am more confident around the University. I know a lot more and I gained confidence from doing the courses such as Team Leader Essentials and Dealing with Difficult Situations – courses which I probably wouldn’t have been confident enough to put myself forward for prior to the development role.

‘’As part of the role, I also moved around different areas of the University, so I got to know other teams, attended various meetings and played an active part in recruiting new staff.

‘’Over the months I was able to gain lots of experience in supervising, from inducting new team members and delivering training to managing casual staff via Oracle and advertising jobs using K2. I also gained experience in managing Health and Safety compliance and Legionella records.

‘’Finally, I completed ECDL level 1 IT skills certification, and I am now doing ECDL level 2, which has been really useful. I’ve learnt how to produce spreadsheets and I’m also more confident using Teams for calls and meetings.’’

What would you say to others about development roles?

‘’Through the development role I gained the experience I needed to apply for a supervisor role, which was my goal.

‘’Ultimately, being able to learn on the job and make connections with people meant I was ready to re-apply when the right opportunity became available.

‘’I think my experience shows you can successfully work your way up at the University, I’m chuffed!’’

We have also spoken to Karen’s manager, Stephanie Rolfe, Housekeeping, Cleaning and General Services Manager in Estates and Facilities.

Why do you think managers should consider having development roles within their teams?

‘’It allows the team member to have job experience and gain exposure to things they wouldn’t have in their roles previously. It also helps to bridge the gap between grades and means those in my team can see a clearer path to a role they may want to get to.

‘’It has helped build resilience in the team, especially over the last year when we had increased sickness absences due to Covid, as well as increased vacancies.

‘’As a manager, development role opportunities also give you the ability to identify potential within the team, to support people’s aspirations and see them grow and progress.’’

Helen Strangward, Director of Accommodation and Commercial Services told Dialogue about the opportunities provided by development roles.

"As part of a pilot for the University, in partnership with Human Resources and Organisation Development colleagues, several career development roles have been implemented within Accommodation and Commercial Services, as well as in the wider Estates and Facilities Directorate.

‘’These roles have been beneficial to the business as well as our team members, allowing us to create resilience to our workforce planning by adopting a far more robust approach to succession planning.

‘’Karen’s example highlights her own personal resilience towards career progression. After previously not being successful in securing a Housekeeping and Cleaning Supervisor role, she remained focused and took other opportunities, such as this career development role, to gain the experience and skills needed to ensure she was a far stronger candidate when applying for future roles.

‘’I hope that others will be encouraged by Karen’s success story. It truly is inspirational and demonstrates how, with the right attitude and personal determination, these career development roles can be used as a route to achieve career aspirations.’’

For further information about development roles, please contact



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