Talent & Development

On the Thameslink Programme (TLP) we developed an effective talent management processes and created tangible training & development opportunities that helped us to execute the Thameslink People Plan and realise the full potential of our people. We have invested in several training programmes to help us to continue to develop our workforce by recognising the skills and abilities required at different stages of the programme.

Line Management Capability Programme: Bespoke training delivered and created in-house

One of the key HR commitments made within the TLP People Plan strategy for 2016, was to upskill and develop our people managers, to help fulfil this commitment a line management capability strategy was formed, focusing on the key components and skills needed to be an effective people manager. Ten key themes aligned to the business needs and corporate initiatives were created using drop-in, workshops, subject-matter expert sessions, e-learning courses, case studies.

Target audience:

  • Line managers (97 no. bands 1-4)
  • New line managers and where appropriate, programme-wide cascades
  • Continuous improvement supported via feedback and lesson learned sessions

The strategy was in place to up-skill all people managers within TLP and designed to benefit and develop both new and established people managers. The target audience were TLP employees with people management responsibilities. To ensure a good uptake amongst employees and the programme’s success, sponsorship from the executive team in TLP was gained and paramount.

Outlined below are the development themes that were delivered. Within each development theme there were capabilities that formed the core focus of the learning and training delivered. These target capabilities were specifically chosen, with the aim of enhancing line managers expertise and proficiency when managing people.



Workshops run to complement the theme

Effective conversations 1. How to handle difficult conversations
2. Giving and receiving feedback
3. Effectively managing an investigation – Grievances / disciplinaries
Employee retention How to motivate your team – motivational leadership
Performance management Managing for high performance
Recruitment Right to work workshop
Finance 1. Finance explained to non-financial managers
2. Fraud and corruption


To facilitate and deliver the line manager capability strategy, a variety of resources were utilised. This included:

  • The Skillsport portal – an online training resource with customised modules for the targeted learning areas.
  • Guest speakers including subject matter experts, who were able to provide high quality training and guidance.
  • In-house workshops offering classroom-based training sessions.
  • Awareness sessions.
  • Quick user guides for managers to be able to refer to the skills and knowledge they have learnt.

In this interview, Dan Murphy, Senior Agent for Costain talks about his own career progression during the London Bridge station project.


Continuing with the theme of Line Manager up-skilling the MCP programme came to completion in February 2018 with I-Lead training being rolled out. The I-Lead training was delivered by an external training provider that focused on management approaches and tools to support individual development and for managers of teams. It was based on stimulating discussion; experiential activities; coaching; and adaptive ways to learn so that an interactive, powerful learning experience was gained, the training also included:

  • How managers interact with their teams to build engagement and inclusiveness.
  • How manager have crucial conversations with mutual meaning.
  • How managers achieve results through others with feedback and coaching.
  • How managers cultivate relationships and drive performance through effective use of performance management tools.

It was rolled out in two phases:

I-Lead 1 – New and upcoming line managers and any other employees on the programme selected who were deemed to have potential

I-Lead 2 – Experienced managers looking to refresh their knowledge and share experiences.

Initially the training was rolled out to a pilot group of 15 people who helped endorse the programme going forward. With 59 no. band 2-4 employees being trained – 24 no. i-Lead 1 and 35 no. i-Lead 2. Here is what some of the attendees had to say about the course:

The course is very practical not theoretical, and the learning can be easily used in the workplace. There are many simple tips and tools for experienced managers that can help you build rapport and engagement with your teams.”

“The iLead course focused on the behaviours that support effective working with others. It covered a range of practical methods including coaching, feedback, and communication and performance management.”

“The trainer practised what was preached by genuinely engaging with the group and working through topics collaboratively and collectively, instead of lecturing. This meant we covered issues relevant to people’s daily lives and had many chances throughout to utilise and feel the benefit of a variety of practical methods directly. I was sceptical when I started the course but found it practical and beneficial.”

Senior Leaders

In order to develop existing talent and enhanced leadership behaviours consistent with foundation management skills and leadership behaviours required by Network Rail, another training opportunity which was provided to Thameslink Programme was the Senior Leaders Programme (SLP) aimed at band 1 managers and selected band 2 managers depending on their role.

It consisted of five residential modules and a coaching workshop (plus a one-day graduation event) over nine months. Participants who successfully completed the programme were eligible to receive the University of Warwick post-graduate award in strategic leadership. It focused on becoming the high-performance leader, building a high performance organisation, maximising business capabilities and driving organisational success. Eleven managers on the Thameslink Programme fulfilled the course and seven are currently wait-listed.

Talent mapping, succession planning/business critical roles

In line with the commitments of the people plan where we are committed to ensure we have the right the talent and at the right time with a “grow our own” approach. TLP has implemented a programme of talent management and identification to help guide the executive and their teams when deciding how to develop people who have potential for the future, forming a basis of development plan conversations to discuss motivations, aspirations and opportunities for development.

This was undertaken through a nine-box grid mapping tool which charted individuals’ skills and capabilities and assessed them in terms of performance and potential. Whilst ensuring we define and measure our internal capabilities on short, medium and long-term needs, it was also essential to minimise the risk of immediate skills loss on the programme therefore a business-critical list was developed and maintained by the executive team to ensure succession plans were in place for all roles and individuals who are critical to deliver project milestones and contribute most to organisation success.

In this interview, Daragh Brady, Construction Manager talks about his own personal development during the London Bridge station project.

Skills and employment

As part of the ongoing Thameslink Sustainability commitment and the in line with the wider NR Volunteering initiative. The exec team volunteered for two days to work with students at Bosco College

The Bosco College is an alternative educational setting for students aged between 15 and 19 who are disengaged at school and can’t cope in a mainstream environment. The college offers GCSEs in English, maths, IT, arts, drama and design as well as a range of vocational subjects such as childcare and business administration.

At the college, students are encouraged and supported to build themselves a career despite the personal challenges they may face. Students are also aided in choosing the right pathway and receive support and advice throughout their time with the centre, along with a challenging, structured environment.

This Volunteering event focused on mock interviews and saw nearly 40 students take part in 20-minute one-to-ones with a member of the TLP exec. The exercise was designed to create an interview in a friendly environment so that the students are more prepared and relaxed when facing interview situations in the future.

In between the interviews, several Costain and Network Rail apprentices ran some fun and engaging games to help the students work on their team working and communication skills.

The executive team expressed how impressed they were with the self-awareness and confidence of a number of the students and the day was very well received by the team and the college.

There have been a number of positive outcomes, including the offer of several work experience opportunities. Our relationship with the college continued during National Apprentice Week when a team of Costain apprentices visited the college to provide mentoring and encouragement to students who wish to pursue an apprenticeship in the rail and construction industries.

Photos below: Karen Morgan, Thameslink Programme financial controller, interviewing a Bosco College student and Simon Blanchflower volunteering at Bosco College.


Talent & Development Key Themes

Ten key themes were aligned to the business needs and corporate initiatives. Within each development theme there were capabilities that formed the core focus of the learning and training delivered.

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