https://pds.blog.parliament.uk/2019/04/05/what-does-confidence-mean-to-pds-staff/

What does confidence mean to PDS staff?

Posters of the 4 PDS cultural values: community, confidence, care, and curiousity

We recently held a confidence day, which is one of our cultural values in PDS. We had a range of speakers talking about bravery, impostor syndrome, personal strength and others. We'll be blogging about that soon.

We've heard from lots of people in PDS about what confidence means to them to celebrate our different perspectives as well as our similarities. Here's what some of our staff had to say.

Helen Agnew, User Engagement Manager

  • Understanding – of my place in the organisation, my role in the team, the goal that I’m aiming for
  • Passion – about what I’m doing and why I’m doing it
  • Self-belief – I can do this thing!
  • Mutual trust and respect – I am not alone, I have the support of others
  • Perspective –  it's not a life or death situation!  I am able to maintain a sensible work-life balance

Selina Akinnawo, Portfolio Support Manager

Selina Akinnawo

To me confidence means believing in your own ability, being prepared to take chances and try something new, knowing that you might fail, but being okay with that and using it as an opportunity to learn and grow!

Maggie Barnes, User Engagement Lead

Confidence for me means not letting fear stop me from doing things. One way I overcome fear and gain confidence is to do things that scare me or are out of my comfort zone – like public speaking! Confidence has to be nurtured and developed which helps build self-belief.

Michelle Rostant-Bell, Customer Communications Officer

Being able to be yourself, to express yourself, have a voice, and feel empowered to learn and develop without fear of judgement (from others or from yourself). I don't think confidence means marching on with being yourself without any consideration to the world around, that to me would be arrogance. Being truly confident, I think, means being comfortable with who you are but still recognising other perspectives and being able to adapt.

Sean Brazier, Head of Device Management

Sean Brazier

Good confidence comes from experience, and from researching and collaborating well enough to arrive at knowing what you’re talking about. Having it means you can sometimes say, "I don’t know, I’ll find out."

Bad confidence is smoke and mirrors bravado, and is usually pretty easily seen through.

I want to help instill good confidence in my team, and if we all get this right, they instill it in me.

Martin Casey, Business Partner

Martin Casey

Accepting that I’m a ‘dyed in the wool’ introvert has helped me feel much more confident in recent years. I spent a lot of my adult life hiding it and feeling guilty about making excuses to avoid social, ‘networking’, and other informal events.

We used to think it was a weakness (it isn’t) and that you had to be an extravert to be successful, but since Susan Cain’s famous Ted Talk in 2012, many of us have felt more empowered to be ourselves.

We now know it’s nothing to do with being shy (I’m not, that’s completely different), it’s about being more ‘inward focussed’, so being de-energised by unstructured social events and less comfortable figuring things out ‘on the fly’, in workshops and meetings for example.

It’s a preference for having the time to reflect and consider more options before contributing. And as it turns out, there are many famous and successful introverts, including Einstein, JK Rowling, and Bill Gates, so we’re in good company.

Kat Cimetta, Social Media Editor and Community Manager

Kat Cimetta

Confidence is not a permanent feeling, it comes in waves and sometimes you feel on top of that wave and others, you’ll feel like you’re crashing. To me it means being aware of the natural flow of things, trusting yourself when you’re on top, and trusting the people around you to support you when you are crashing. Confidence is about having faith in yourself and others.

Rebecca Elton, Director of Service Design

For me, building my confidence has meant that I can feel comfortable not knowing all the answers and not pushing a strong personal view. I feel more able to change my views and I am keener to hear the views of others than press my own. It means that I can have a quieter voice, that I want to amplify and champion other people's ideas, and that I don't need to be inflexible in my own views.

It has also helped me start to relinquish the difficult desire for perfection and control! By doing these things, I'm able to work closely with many great people who have brilliant and creative ideas and can help them to build their confidence to make those ideas heard. That's helped me further build my own confidence - by trusting myself and the team.

The watershed in starting to think and feel in this way for me came from the experience of having children. Because as I embarked as a parent, I soon realised that it’s impossible to always get it completely ‘right’ and that any sense of being able to ‘control’ is an illusion! I know that I will never will be a perfect parent, but I also know that what’s most important is to let their voices and ideas grow and shine.

Joe Foster, Technical Applications Specialist Manager

Being confident to me means being confident in my understanding of business process and my organisational memory, my ability to work with the technologies and tools so that I can work quickly without having to wait on other people, and delay getting something done.

Being confident means that I’m happy to make a quick decision, happy to take ownership of such a decision and happy to be proved wrong! I’m confident in understanding where my limits are and I am confident to ask the experts. I’m confident to ask questions, answer them, or point people at where they can get the best answer!

Dan Franklin, Programme Delivery Manager

Confidence means a few different things to me, but what holds most personal value is having the confidence to believe in yourself and challenge the status quo.

Parliament is a place of history and long-standing traditions, which can make it daunting when trying to change things for the better. I strongly believe we need to be more creative and take new approaches, without being afraid that things might fail, or what people might say.

It’s far from perfect, but we provide a really high level of quality services to our users/customers across Parliament, yet we still beat ourselves up for past failures. I think we need to move beyond our legacy and show more confidence in ourselves as individuals, as teams and as a collective Digital Service.

Dominic Grixti, Senior Project Manager

Confidence means that, in the Digital Service, I'm able to put forward my ideas or to challenge anyone else’s ideas in any department and at any level, knowing that I will be taken seriously.

Confidence means that, in PDS, I am trusted to be flexible in where I work, in when I work, in how I work and in what I wear to work.

On a lighter note, confidence means the Digital Service being able to hold a confidence day on April Fool’s Day!

Rebecca Hales, Head of Content

Rebecca Hales

I've built a career helping organisations and their people to be open and transparent about their work. For me, confidence comes from bringing the same curiosity, honesty and openness to my day-to-day. I tend to think that those who shout the loudest have something to hide! So instead I embrace being a little bit awkward and softspoken.

My confidence comes from owning that approach and not apologising for it. I know that in doing my research, asking difficult questions, and listening to colleagues' answers I can make better informed, more confident decisions on behalf of my team (and everyone who needs to access and understand what’s going on in Parliament).

It also means my team see me questioning the way things are done and can be confident challenging one another about the best way forward, even in high-pressure situations.

Rosie Hatton, Digital Strategy Lead

Rosie Hatton

For me confidence is:

  • trusting that I have the ability and skills to do a particular thing
  • trusting that people want to hear what I have to say and will treat what I say with respect, even if they don't agree with me
  • feeling like I belong

Siân Hodges, Delivery Manager

Sian Hodges

Confidence for me is not being afraid to get it wrong. I grew up thinking I should always have the right answers, and that stopped me from speaking up unless I was 100% sure what I was going to say was correct. Over the years I’ve learned two things: I don’t need to be 100% sure to speak up, my opinions are still valid and when I really don’t have the answer, it’s okay to admit that too.

Bridget Keam, Corporate Data Architect

Confidence is not about always knowing the answer, it's not about ego, and it's not about being bossy. Confidence is about knowing that you don't always know the answer, working with colleagues in a considerate way to solve problems, and sharing experience and knowledge.

Jacob Khoo, Enterprise Support Engineer

Jacob Khoo

Confidence means being able to solve problems and challenges which deliver a positive impact to our communities, others, and ourselves.

Liz Leydon, Local Engagement Officer

If you can project confidence you inspire others to have confidence in your abilities.

  • Confidence comes from within, from feeling prepared, supported in my role, heard and understood
  • Owning my work schedule and the material to apply and adapt to my visits makes me calm and confident. Be prepared
  • N(k)nowing my role makes me confident and helps me improvise when required.
  • Freedom to plan my schedule away from core hours makes me confident in dedicating the time I need to tasks
  • I - there is no 'I' in team, my team builds my confidence, as did my induction
  • Doing/action builds confidence as it tackles fear of the unknown. Training helps with this and, after that, you learn by doing
  • Energy - the time to breathe, rest, and re-energise helps confidence
  • N(k)nowledge base - in addition to being able to call Westminster for help during visits in Scotland and the north-east, our team knowledge-base on OneNote
  • Communication/call-ins - regular formal and informal contact with my team and support desk, customer service desk and project leaders bolster my confidence
  • Empathy/reflective practice helps me learn, improve and remain confident after facing new challenges

Kyus Agu-Lionel, Developing Project Manager

Kyus Agu-Lionel

For me, confidence is about knowing yourself very well: the strengths and the flaws. Embrace what you’re good at, improve what you can and accept what you can’t. When you do, nothing that anybody can say to you can put you under for long!

Sarah McIlwaine, Communications Officer

Sarah McIlwaine

Confidence is not unwavering. I find confidence precarious and slippery. It's there and then it goes, off to a crevice in my mind. The ups and downs can make us feel like monsters? Or aliens? Unsteady or ungripped.

I’ve struggled with being disability confident. From thinking there is nothing different with me, to then feeling rather sorry for myself. Feeling guilty about taking resources then becoming angry that no-one’s cutting me slack. But my disability isn’t visible, so I must be confident to talk about it. I have partial deafness and wear hearing aids.

Sometimes I cope well, and sometimes I don’t. Growing up I preferred the quiet world. Now I always wear them, but it’s not all negative. I can mute people from my iPhone and play Spotify through my aids. I find it easy to pick up on body language and visual cues which helps me understand people better.

A turning point in being confident though was when I shared my story in a staff newsletter. After publishing it, people reached out and someone else shared their own story. Being confident helped me, and other people! Excellent. I challenged senior people on something being inaccessible in an open forum which was scary (confidence is not unwavering) but my awesome colleague told me she was impressed. This keeps me steadfast.

Cecilia Meciani, Business Analyst

Rather than the certainty of handling something, confidence to me is the belief that I have all the ingredients to be able to learn what I need to achieve my goals. Ultimately, we can only control what is within our means of control and this gives me a pleasant feeling of tranquillity and reassurance.

Cherry O'Donnell, Product Service Owner

What it means to me really starts with belief, and believing in yourself, your abilities, and acknowledging that you are not perfect. In my day job, I think that I have to believe that what I am doing is the right thing to do. But also I have to be confident that, if the action I have taken does not result in the outcome I expected, then I have to be confident that I can then remediate the issue and carry on.

You have to be confident to fail. Failure is how we learn, develop our skills and actions, and how we grow as individuals. If you're not confident to fail, then you won't have the confidence to try something new, try a solution that could benefit everyone, or speak at that event that gets you headhunted for a new job.  But confidence is a fickle thing, it can be snatched away so quickly. This is where I think it comes back to belief. Believe in yourself and others around you will believe in you, this in turn will boost your confidence.

Stevey Robertson, Design Lead

Stevey Robertson

Confidence is something that can be learnt and improved upon with practice. I used to be terrified of presenting in front of others, which is something I've been proactively addressing throughout my career.  I attended a fantastic presentation course and learnt about:

  • the importance of storytelling – ensure you have a beginning, middle and an end and know your audience
  • start with small audiences, then work up to larger ones
  • prepare, prepare, prepare – the more prepared you are and the more you practice your presentations, the more confident you will come across
  • get some feedback – either by recording yourself or getting others to give you feedback
  • watch others present and critique them – what styles work well and don’t work so well – identify the ones that work for you

Rob Sanders, Director of Live Services

Rob Sanders

My interpretation of “confidence” is the certainty we have about what we do and what we're capable of.  In general, our confidence is derived from our skills and experience, and so it tends to grow with learning and practice. We all have different levels of confidence for the different tasks and activities we do. Our confidence helps us do things better and more efficiently, and enables us to try new things and be more creative. It also helps us react to unplanned events in a more measured and constructive way.

Some things to be mindful of are those that affect our levels of confidence – from simply having a bad day or having recently had a bad experience, to having had a really good day, or recent great success. Also, our self-awareness is key, as that (if misaligned) can lead to overconfidence or a lack of self-confidence, both of which can impact our delivery, working relationships and future opportunities.

Glenn Scott, Portfolio Practices & Transformation Lead

Glenn Scott

Confidence to me is something I had always struggled with because although loud on the outside, on the inside I struggled with my sexuality for many years, not believing in myself or that I fitted in anywhere. It took a long time to discover I was still a good person and sexuality doesn’t define my abilities or who my friends are and the things I do. Once I accepted who I was and told everyone else about it, that self-belief has made me confident in my daily life - now I’m loud both on the inside and out.

Aisha Shillingford, Developing Project Manager

Confidence for me means a lot of things but here is one: knowing deep down that when presented with a situation, task or scenario, despite any internal fears, one will have the strength of mind to overcome those, apply oneself, and tackle the issue despite an uncertain outcome. Sometimes this will result in a ‘win’, other times you may not get the desired result but taking pride in oneself that you tried and realising the lessons for next time. I think one person can be confident sometimes and other times not, as it can depend on lots of factors.

David Smith, Deputy Director

David Smith

Having belief in my judgement and abilities, being open to other’s views, being able to act on feedback and, when required, able to openly acknowledge my mistakes and address them.

Oliver Strike, Deputy Hardware Asset Manager

Confidence to me is the ability to enter a new situation and using it as an opportunity to learn and develop. Not shying away because it’s the unknown but understanding your limitations and seeking to further develop your knowledge and skills.

Mairead Turner, Local Engagement Officer

For me, confidence means being open to possibilities. By that I mean if you take the concept of bravery (which I think is only one aspect of it), you allow yourself to be in situations you learn from that then allow you to progress. Sometimes those opportunities expose you to things you don’t know you could do so we take pride in our selves and can put ourselves in similar situations again and achieve even more.

Sometimes it results in moments you know you were too uncomfortable in, and they can help you identify paths you don’t want to take again. Knowing what isn’t right is just as important as knowing your true direction.

Confidence doesn’t mean knowing you have all the answers. In fact, for me, true confidence happens when you don’t. When you’re putting your trust in yourself to make it through, when you’re hoping that the promised support of others is there if you need it, and when you have faith in the reason you’re out there. So far from being something we possess, it’s something we reach for. It isn’t about knowing you can, it’s about being willing to try.

Read more posts about the cultural values in PDS. 

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