Secondment Diaries Blog Finale: Impact and Appreciation

This is the final installment in our series of secondment diaries, following the experience of Antonia Panayotova, a civil servant currently (remotely) seconded for six months to a small international NGO, Child Rights International Network (CRIN), through WIG’s Charity Next scheme. Antonia joined CRIN in April from the government’s digital, data and technology profession to be their Data & Technology Manager. In this post Antonia reflects on creating inclusive technology and lessons learned overall from her secondment, including the importance of showing appreciation.

It is time for my last contribution to my secondment diary. Thank you for following my journey the last few months!

At the start of October, I joined Government again after spending six months on secondment to Child Rights International Network (CRIN). I was a bit nervous, to be honest, but CRIN was a brilliant posting in which I managed to make so many visible changes. I significantly improved our internal technology so that people with various technical skills and in different locations were able to use it effectively and I upgraded our external digital and technology tools so our supporters could find us more easily and navigate our websites better (including with assistive digital technologies). I helped the team develop a lot of new skills and adopt tools to ensure they could maintain and continue improving their use of technology after I leave. I could really see the impact I had on CRIN and its team and I am really grateful and proud of what I achieved.

In huge organisations like a UK Government department, that is not always the case. I have mostly worked in government digital services and I really value that we exist to make services more accessible to people with various needs. Our teams are often big because there are many individual requirements we need to account and create solutions for. We do not always get it right straight away, but when we do, the impact affects so many, and often in critical times of their life when they come to really need the services we provide. But sometimes when you are a very small part of a much larger, complex machine, it is difficult to see how you are personally helping to make things happen on a meaningful level. There are some great leaders that can help you visualise this, but great leadership alone is not always enough to appreciate your personal contribution day-to-day.

My time at CRIN really made me reflect on this. I could only fully appreciate the different ways to see personal impact and how that affects daily motivation after having experienced two different working environments through my secondment opportunity. It gave me a new perspective and taught me what kind of teammate and leader I want to be - one that makes sure those around me are aware of the impact they are having, the legacy they are leaving behind, and how they fit into the bigger picture of what they are working on. Thank you to the Fast Stream team, Charity Next, CRIN and to all my colleagues there for teaching me so much in such a short period of time!

My new team is also brilliant. Joining a big team remotely was a bit of a challenge, but everyone has been very welcoming. I have been trialling showing my appreciation for their support and drawing attention to the positive impact their actions have had on me and they have effortlessly taken to doing that back, which has quickly made me feel like a valued team member.

I think this is the most important lesson I have learned from my secondment. With this blog and my own actions, I hope to spread this message and thereby bring satisfaction to more people. We all come with different backgrounds, experiences, ideas and agendas, but at the end of the day most of us just want to have a positive impact. This is why in this last post I am going to leave you with an invitation: show people appreciation and help them see the legacy they leave, in work and outside of it, with contributions big or small. It makes us all more motivated, productive and most of all, happier. And who does not appreciate a little extra happiness?