Achieving through empathy

Nora Poching’s journey began in 2011 when she completed the Police Preparation Course with Te Wananga o Aotearoa (TWOA). She felt a career in the NZ Police would provide multiple career opportunities as well as job security.

So, while working full time at a fitness Centre in Mangere, she attended night classes at TWOA. She passed the initial test with Police Recruitment and was able to join the NZ Police College.

An early challenge in Nora’s career was when she identified her tendency to self-sabotage. She noticed she’d fallen into a pattern of thinking she wasn't good enough, didn't know or do enough, and constantly compared herself to other people in her workplace, resulting in low self-confidence. Nora felt she had to experience and excel in multiple roles before she felt worthy enough to seek promotion. Turning to her mentors for advice helped Nora create an action plan. Without this help, Nora believes her career progression would have been significantly slower.  

She feels blessed to have worked with so many amazing and talented people. In fact, she told us, she could immediately think of ten people who at various phases of her career, have stepped in to guide and counsel her. In Nora’s experience, women in the police force employ a style of conflict resolution that puts communication before physical confrontation which can be more productive in many situations. She has also found that her male colleagues respond positively to this approach. Returning from maternity leave, Nora found herself surrounded by strong female leaders who continue to provide guidance. They’ve encouraged her to actively network and have promoted her skills to external working groups. Nora readily acknowledges the inspiring and motivating power of amazing wāhine to uplift and empower other wāhine in the workplace.

“It’s important to be concerned about the human being and not just their output”.

Looking back on the past year and the effect of Covid-19, Nora has found positives amidst the chaos and uncertainty. It has brought her closer to her family and community as she shifted focus to her well-being and that of those around her. Nora incorporated this change of focus into her role and brought this well-being emphasis to her workplace. In a stressful environment like frontline and shift-working where you deal with so many different tasks and people, a wellbeing focus is a big benefit. One of Nora’s contributions to well-being was stocking up her section’s cupboard with drinks and food for anyone on her team who might need it. She also concentrated on using empathy, listening to her team and acting on their feedback, involving them in decision-making processes to show that they are valued and heard. She started a pilot program for employees on parental leave, which focuses on staff welfare and workplace reintegration. It’s Nora’s aim to create a change in culture, where people feel cared for and valued.

In Nora’s experience, having a mindset focussed on her own well-being and a passion for helping others has enabled her to become a better leader. She suggests identifying someone with the attributes of a good leader to have as a mentor. “Widen your knowledge, develop your skills and couple this with a focus on empathy for yourself and others,” Nora advises.  

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