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How housing developer Landcom helps employees grow their careers

Member interview: Landcom’s Chief People and Culture Officer Vidia Henshaw

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Landcom is not just growing the number of new homes to help with the current housing crisis. It’s also committed to growing its people with a carefully thought through learning and development framework.

In fact, in FY22 the NSW Government’s land and property development organisation provided all its employees with 25 hours of learning. 

Here we talk to Landcom’s Chief People and Culture Officer Vidia Henshaw about Landcom’s capability framework, the benefits of learning, and how Growth Faculty is integrated into Landcom’s leadership education program.

(Note: answers have been edited for brevity)


GF: What are the main goals for Landcom this year?

Vidia: Priorities from the NSW State Government focus around affordable housing and making sure that is very much baked into how we deliver our projects in our communities at scale. So, we are seeking to lift our affordable housing, and in regional communities expanding that from 10% up to 30%.


GF: Tell us about your role at Landcom and your key areas of focus?

Vidia: I’m the Director of People and Culture and I lead a wonderful team that delivers the full lifecycle of people and culture activities here in our organisation but for 2023 our focus is anchored on:

·       Embedding our Landcom capability framework which we introduced last year.

·       Taking a whole of organisation approach towards talent management and learning and development.

·       Continuing our focus on diversity and inclusion and on wellbeing in the workplace. Last year we received a number of recognitions in those areas, which we’re proud of, but it’s ongoing.


Free Download: How to Create a Culture of Accountability in 2023


GF: What is the Landcom Capability Framework?

Vidia: It’s built as a 3x3x3 model.

There are 3 parts anchored around Tech, Core and Leadership capabilities. Under each of the capabilities there are 3 defined capabilities, and then we have 3 levels (foundational, intermediate and adept).

All staff at Landcom, from the receptionist to CEO, is mapped against our Landcom Capability Framework and it’s embedded in our position descriptions.

So, everybody is aware of what level their role is expected to play against the capability framework.

And that then helps us drive a number of things whether it’s driving higher performance, L&D opportunities, how we recruit, how we grow our people, and how we invest in their development over a sustained period of time.

We are proud of our framework; we custom built it to drive our strategy over the next 3-5 years. So I’m looking forward to making that a success this year. 


GF: What are your employees and executives saying they want most to feel engaged and happy at work?

Vidia: What we’re hearing from our people is that L&D continues to be their ‘ticket to the game’. People want to see internal opportunities and that’s exciting because our capability framework is the roadmap.

It sets out well what you need to achieve the level above, the level above that, and maybe the level above that. So you have career journeys that are well mapped out and you can look at your growth strategy and your L&D around that. We’re hoping it amplifies in 2023.


GF: What are the leadership capabilities Landcom is looking for?

Vidia: There are 3 very specific things that we identified as core and central for our leaders.


1.     Developing people and teams. That’s how you coach, how you model a culture of professional development, how you build capability at multiple levels across the business and share your model for growth and success. That’s important because that builds dividends over time, because leaders are investing in the leaders of the future.


2.     Leading for higher performance outcomes. Looking at quality, looking at achievement, and coaching our people towards reaching top levels of performance. That’s exciting because it means continual performance management linking back to our organisational strategy and our priorities.


3.     Judgement and decisiveness. I think this is the make-or-break of any leader. This is about understanding cause and effect, it’s about looking at your organisational systems at work, and making sure that you’re using good judgement to drive best outcomes right across the board. What we’re looking for in our leaders are really good critical thinking skills, really good innovative and sustainable practices, and making sure decision making is timely and effective and has positive effect right across our business.


GF: Tell us about Landcom and Growth Faculty

Vidia: We allow for all of our senior leadership team (about 35-40 including our executive and CEO) to get access to the Growth Faculty Pass for them to not only attend the learning events and the book clubs and all of those awesome things that you do, but we also integrate Growth Faculty into how we drive our leadership strategy and approach.

For example, we do a lot of sharing around “Hey did you know that we’re running this particular activity in-house on (for example) leading for high performance outcomes and that the Growth Faculty are also running some awesome events that speak to this topic – we would love you to go away and attend the Growth Faculty event before you come along to this session so you can come in with an informed position.”

That’s just one example. So, I personally am a huge fan of Growth Faculty. I love the speakers that you bring in, there’s been some absolute rockstars along the way. I also find value in those speakers that can give you the ‘just in time’ learning for where you’re at. You know you don’t have to wait for an event or a particular experience, and I’m finding that Growth Faculty events and experiences are being self-led within our organisation.


GF: What are the 3 benefits of providing the Growth Faculty Pass to your executives?  

Vidia:

1.     The quality of the speakers. I mean that’s absolutely second to none, you’re getting essentially the types of speakers that attend conferences like World Business Forum and TedX and all of those top-level ones, in an accessible format, so that is the top thing for me personally.

2.     Accessibility. I love that we have moved with the times and digital learning is such an integral part of how organisations share their leadership knowledge and thought leadership. You know I always thought that when I finished many years of university that that would be ‘it’ for me in terms of learning, but there is so much to learn and so many interesting things so having that accessibility and that ability to get to a world-class platform without actually leaving your laptop is really phenomenal.

3.     The integrability of Growth Faculty and the topics. I think there’s a lot of contemporary leadership discussions that are happening but also just things that speak to business practice and overall business excellence and performance, and I think that that bit is really attractive because no matter where you are on your business continuum, I feel that Growth Faculty speakers are talking about really relevant topics that make sense for us as an organisation.


GF: Of all the speakers you’ve seen who’s been a personal favourite?

Vidia: My personal favourite has been Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” around absence of trust, fear of conflict, accountability, and paying attention to team objectives. At a company level Jim Collins’s Flywheel was one that made a couple of ripples amongst my business. Our exco team attended that as a cohort and then subsequently came back together to discuss how the flywheel would potentially be adopted in our organisation.

And, that’s what I really love, these really fantastic experiences are able to then spark some really brilliant conversations at our organisational level. I find that to be a great part of Growth Faculty that you’re not just having a conversation for the sake of talking into a camera but you’re actually sparking ideas, you’re sparking change and you’re sparking growth in a business.


GF: What would you say to other leaders about the benefits of learning and development?

Vidia: L&D needs to be seen as part of a continuous improvement journey.

If I use that uni example, where I might have stopped my learning journey 15 to 20 years ago is not really going to help me when it comes to responding to contemporary issues – whether it be dealing with your people, dealing with business performance issues or just generally dealing with macro.

So, I think learning and development is such an important part for us to really make sure we’re shaping the best possible leadership groups and to make sure we’ve got the cutting edge in terms of being able to develop the best outcomes for our customer and for our client bases as well.

 

GF: With IWD coming up very soon, can you tell us what that diversity and inclusion is like within Landcom?

Vidia: Unlike many organisations we have 50% women in leadership at a board level and at our executive team level as well.

We’ve also run multi-year cohorts for our Women Leading at Landcom talent program where we have put 30 females through a top talent program designed at improving leadership outcomes here at Landcom.

In addition, our overall to diversity and inclusion is very broad and multi-dimensional. We’ve partnered with the Australian Network on Disability in terms of introducing disability mentoring programmes and last year we received accreditation from the Diversity Council of Australia as one of the Top 30 Inclusive Employers so we’re very proud of the work we do in this space, how hard we work, and proud of what it means for our people - because a more inclusive organisation means better outcomes for everyone.


GF: Vidia Henshaw, really appreciate your time, thanks so much for coming on Growth Faculty today. 


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Images:

Vidia Henshaw, Director of People and Culture, Landcom. Supplied by Vidia Henshaw

Landcom project from Landcom website

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