Earlier this year, groups of employees from companies such as IBM, ManPower and VoucherCodes.co.uk took the University of Reading’s free online course “Managing People: Engaging Your Workforce” together. Ahead of the course’s return in January, we spoke to the team at VoucherCodes.co.uk about how the course has helped them become better managers.
VoucherCodes.co.uk was founded in 2008 and now provides discounts for over 2,500 stores, restaurants and tourist attractions in the UK, helping millions of consumers save money every week. But the company’s rapid growth created a predicament for its management team, as Simon Migliano, Senior Director, Editorial & Operations, explains.
“We were at a point of transition in our company life. We’d gone from 20 people to 100 people quickly. The company had changed from being a founder-led startup to something more corporate. We needed to make sure that we became who we wanted to become.”
It was this need that prompted Simon and many of his colleagues to join “Managing People: Engaging Your Workforce” – a course taught by Henley Business School, which looks at management theory and psychology, but also considers management to be as much of an art as a science. Both current managers and aspiring managers took the course – and all of them got something out of it.
Considering individuals’ motivations
“The course made me think about what type of person I am in the workplace,” says Delphine Lyon, Paid Media Associate. “You get given lots of theories and it’s interesting to learn how different personalities can clash in the workplace.
“The course has helped me learn not only how to manage, but also how to deal with my own manager – I can now tell him what motivates me.”
Alex Bosier, a Marketing Executive, adds: “It made me realise how difficult it is to find out what motivates you, which is really important when managing people. It opened my eyes to the fact that motivation is very different for different people.”
Taking on a management role
Alex wasn’t managing anyone when he started “Managing People,” but he’s now managing 26 freelancers. “I think the course probably helped me to secure my new position,” he says. “This is something that I would list on my CV.”
Even for experienced manager, Simon, the course offered something new.
“It was certainly the most academic training we’ve ever had,” he explains. “But actually taking the academic approach has been really new and has made me think about things in a different way.”
Creating a happy, well-rounded team
“The course has made me want to refine my recruitment,” continues Simon. “It’s made me think more deeply about the profile of my team at the moment and what sort of person would fit well into that dynamic rather than solely focusing on skills. When recruiting people now, I think about how these people will manage people.
“And in terms of how I manage people, the course has changed my focus from the operational side of the business – rather than bee-lining towards my business goals, I now focus more on the people in my team. We’ve been more conscious of our team morale.”
Learning with FutureLearn
The experience of taking training online has also been refreshing for VoucherCodes.co.uk.
“The only other training we’ve had is two hour sessions or at most a full day,” says Simon. “The best thing about the course and the platform was the fact that we could offer it to the team without it having a big impact on the company – they could do it individually at a time that suited them, then get together to discuss it.”
“We had 2 hours per week to take the course and I did the rest at home,” continues Delphine. “I didn’t take the course because I had to – I took the course because I wanted to and I knew it would be useful for me.
“I found the site easy to use and navigate. The video at the beginning which explains how to use the site was really helpful. I put a few comments up and it was great to be able to listen to other people’s.”
“The course has been an interesting period of self-reflection,” concludes Simon. “There were a real mix of people who took the course and it has been really different to a bunch of managers sitting around the table.”