They say that variety is the spice of life, but it can also be that experience that shows a fulfilled career. We spoke to Gary Hardy who has a wide variety of roles during his time at Midland Heart, and he is now using that experience to help his teams reach their potential.
Hi Gary, how long have you been with Midland Heart and how have you found it?
“It has been great, I have been here 23 years, my wife was working here for four years, my nephew was working with the homeless tea, so I have always been able to recommend it.
“Over the years, the organisation has become more engaging with the front line and there is a more innovative feel to the business. I’m really proud of the fact that we are seen as ahead of the curve when dealing with the changing environment and are able to make changes that impact our business and our customers when needed.
“I find it a really engaging place to work, where you can stop and have a conversation with anybody and people want to take the time to talk to you.”
How did you start out here?
“I started as a YTS at Copec Housing in 1988, and after a spell away I came back and went into the Neighbourhood team as a Housing Officer in 94 before becoming a Senior Housing Officer in Handsworth for around 18 months.
“From there I bounced around between officer and manager roles until 2009 where I was offered my first head of service role in Finance before in May 2015 I was asked to join Customer and Communities where I was to take Income with me and take on Allocations, Housing Legal and Homeless Services. There have been many changes over the past two years but it is going well, all of our targets are being met and we’re exceeding many.”
Now you are a manager, how do you get the best out of those that you manage?
“For me, a manager has to adapt their management style to the people we manage. Everyone has a different personality so you need to know what makes people tick.
“That said, we also have a role to play in the wider team and it is important that people give you 100% to achieve the goals we set. Although I believe I am a very fair and flexible manager, there is an expectation I have of each and every one of the team.
“We constantly look at how we can improve what we do and people have to realise we are in a business where external influences drive constant change. This will benefit some people and I will do all I can to help support those that want to move up in this team and the wider business, it’s what I have done for the past 23 years!”
What drives you to come into work?
“To be honest with you, I could say it’s all about the customer and the social impact we have but in reality I like nothing more than looking at how we can improve what we do and how we can be the best at what we do. Streamline processes, reducing workload and freeing the time to really manage our workloads effectively has a direct impact on our service delivery and the services our customers receive. Just as important, I want to make my department a great, fun place to work.”
You started as an apprentice, is there any advice you would give to anyone starting out?
“We set up the apprentice programme to help people into work because of welfare reform and the benefit cap. I have apprentices in my teams who have secured full time posts. One has been promoted twice.
“We promote internally, many of my managers were previously Rent Payment Officers. This shows the apprentices that if they knuckle down and apply themselves, we won’t let them go, they will have the opportunity to stay.”