Yvonne Harrison is the Managing Director of Project 92 and Chair of Foundation 92. We first met Yvonne nearly two years ago, whilst she was working on launching UA92. She has been an incredible support ever since, we were so excited to speak to Yvonne and hear from her 15 years experience in the charity sector on boards and as former CEO of Greater Sport.
Can you give a summary of the change you have created and how?
I worked in the voluntary sector, across the agenda of physical activity and sport. I was CEO of GreaterSport and had a team of people, passionate about making a difference working for the organisation. I was keen for us to improve our performance in two aspects of the business, being valued by our customers and being a great place to work.
Why did you want to create change?
Our results were positive, but I felt that if we truly put people at the heart of what we did, we could improve our performance significantly. This would result in both partners and the team, feeling more valued, having greater satisfaction with their engagement with GreaterSport and being able to perform better as a result. If you can create positivity around an organisation, people want to work with you and want to work for you, both of which as positive for any business.
What change would you like to see?
I wanted to see our partners get more value out of their interactions with GreaterSport. I wanted staff to feel they were better supported, developed and challenged to grow and improve and deliver great service, knowledge and insight to partners, helping them achieve better results locally.
I would like to see more focus on the real-life applications of STEM and not just the academic side. There have been fantastic initiatives going on and which continue to do so and I would like to see even more initiatives encouraging both girls and boys to engage with STEM and pursue careers that incorporate the skills that they have gained.
What actions can we take to help create that change?
We listened, to our team and our partners, we listened in a non defensive way, to understand, from different perspectives, what people thought was good, bad and ugly. We reviewed what we did and how we did it and the biggest changes came, not from ‘what’ we did, but from ‘how’ we did it. More time spent on developing the team as a collective, as well as individually, and reflective of their needs and experience in the sector. More time out with partners, in their environments, understanding their world and then connecting relevant opportunities and insights to support their work. More time advocating their work at a Greater Manchester level and increasing visibility of its impact, to support their efforts locally.
Any advice on how to create change?
If you want to create change, acknowledge this, and start. Know that success doesn’t happen in straight lines and be prepared for this. Change is about learning, so nothing is wasted, the good and the bad! My biggest advice, is that people are at the heart of change, understand the people who need to support this change process, listen, observe and work with them to ensure they are part of the process and that the ‘change’ isn’t done to them.