Longhurst Group is a leading regional housing organisation managing more than 16,000 homes in around 40 local authority areas, spanning the Midlands, East of England and Yorkshire and Humberside regions.
The group and its four member companies – Friendship Care and Housing, L&H Homes, Spire Homes and Keystone developments – are committed to maintaining their ‘federal’ structure and values and working together collaboratively to help create communities where people live positively together.
Longhurst’s executive team was looking for a programme to develop leaders and managers for the future. They chose the Oasis peer-based developmental approach.
It was a very different view of a development programme, much more about the development of people rather than a traditional training approach.Mike HardyManaging Director, Longhurst & Havelok Homes
A life-changing programme
The bespoke programme Leadership, Life and Learning (LLL) was piloted.
It changed the way managers and leaders across the group worked together and with others, and many considered it a life-changing experience.
Those who had benefited began to call for the Group Executive Team to take part.
Reaching understanding through collaboration requires skills in contracting in a relationship; clarifying understanding of what is being said and challenging robustly, but appropriately. Challenging each other was uncomfortable but through it we developed a maturity in handling conflict better. We had questioned why we needed the programme, but now we are more open to the idea of challenging each other than we might previously have been. We have different strategies to understand each other and we are more conscious of the dynamics. We work differently together, we are more conflict resistant, we share more, and through the process we have become a more cohesive and collaborative unit, capable of achieving the future we envisage.Mike HardyManaging Director, L&H Homes
Numerous groups have since taken part in the leader development programme. Mike said: “We send staff on formal training courses for qualifications, but what Oasis offer is not more of the same, it is something different.”
A key difference is that the personal development programmes Oasis offer help people work through their ‘live’ issues, the questions they are working with and challenge deeply-held beliefs and assumptions.
“Rather than job-related training, what Oasis offers helps people stay alive to the dynamics of what is happening within the organisation and how they can influence change. Understanding of ‘self’ is key to this and not something a traditional training programme could come close to addressing. You can learn tools and skills but they are not going to be useful in what is really important in an organisation and that is building – and maintaining – relationships that are robust enough to manage a more uncertain future.Mike HardyManaging Director, L&H Homes
Creating a development strategy for the business
The programme included the creation of a development strategy for the business, which brought about a number of changes and showed the need to look at organisational change and development rather than business planning.
All the directors across the group worked together on using a future picture approach to develop a collaborative approach. Oasis played a facilitation role with the holding group to steer the process.
In the past as an organisation we were more or less developing people in a traditional way by sending them on management courses of one sort or another. The big difference with Oasis is the focus on individual learning processes, and collaborative work through a team-based approach. Instead of people going on one-off courses we have had people undergoing a programme of development work together in a team. Fundamentally it is less about management techniques and more about developing individuals. It has had a big impact on the organisation. We have got a lot more challenging and we collaborate a great deal more.Bob WalderGroup Chief Executive, Longhurst Group