[blockquote line1=”Anita Roddick”]
If you think that you are too small to have an impact try going to bed with a mosquito.
We are currently celebrating joining the ranks of the elite having been awarded the Investors in People Gold Award. Only 2% of companies holding the award are at this level so this is a huge endorsement of our investment in people and the quality of our staff.
Providing tangible evidence that investment in Organisational Development (and let’s face it everyone wants this) is worthwhile is always a challenge and external accreditation is one way of evidencing impact. To us it is never about awards… it’s about the story that led to the award.
This is our story…
We formed in 2006 as a result of the coming together of Teesdale and Endeavour Housing Associations. Endeavour started life in 1974, with a small office and budget, a couple of staff members and a few houses; in 2014 it owns and manages nearly 3,000 houses. Teesdale was also formed in 2006, and is a small Housing Association of around 800 units formed through the transfer of Local Authority housing stock.
Endeavour has very strong, embedded values, which was the main reason Teesdale chose to join the new North Star group; these values had synergy with Teesdale and the strength of the Group is the blend of the two. Endeavour was created from the church movement, in response to a concern about the quality of housing in Teesside. The first CEO had strong philanthropic roots. Previously a shipyard owner, he was committed to improving the quality of life of low income people. The original values of honesty, openness, trust, loyalty and consideration live very strongly at all levels, which is why we have top decile tenant satisfaction levels and IiP comments about being a world class employer.
Development with Oasis
Our development journey began in partnership with Oasis over two years ago with the CEO and Directors, then all Managers completed an in-house leadership programme. By the end of 2014 all staff will have completed the Tools for Change programme.
During the first year the CEO, Directors and all managers worked together to develop a shared picture of the future. This is now our Leading and Growing Strategy: North Star to 2018.
We then took all staff off-site for a day and presented our thoughts and vision to them, building in loads of time for exploration and questions.
At the end of the day people completed a confidential score card rating their commitment to what they had heard: 97% of staff said: “Let’s get going with delivery.” This means that levels of ownership, responsibility and accountability are high across the business and everyone understands the direction of travel and their part in making the future happen.
To continue developing the strong relational culture, we have fully embraced the Shared Leadership approach across the business.
To us culture is just about the way we do things. We are unafraid of challenges and resolute that we will make a difference. Culture is not only about what we do, it is also about how we do it and why. This is at our heart and is what sets us apart from others. The challenges that we as a society face demand courage, flexibility, innovation, resilience, robust relationships and dogged determination to make a difference and to keep trying and this requires new and different ways of working. No one person or small group of people has all the answers and therefore we wanted to involve and include more people. The leadership model we agreed to develop, has required more people to be leaderful, to be more accountable and to have more influence.
We invest in the development of leaders across the organisation and many people are involved in leading the organisation. This is supported by clear decision-making processes at every level. We all engage in development and training to enable our skills to be applied flexibly in a way that maximises the impact on us and the business. We have leading edge people strategies that help us to be both clear about our approach and have consistent management styles. We pay attention to and invest in our wellbeing.
We have adult-to-adult relationships that strengthen our commitment to fairness, honesty, transparency and personal responsibility. We are all encouraged to be involved within the business, to provide challenge and feedback and are all influential. We are confident in trying new things and we all contribute towards improvements. We manage uncertainty and change through regular, open dialogue, focused external scanning and good planning which enables us to manage risk effectively, think quickly, be creative and remain agile and leading edge.
The way that we work means that we are a partner of choice because we are innovative, flexible, honest and accountable and we deliver results.
Leading and Growing
The Leading and Growing Strategy: North Star to 2018 clearly states the direction of travel for North Star and the chosen approach to leadership, to be achieved through an increasingly influential, leaderful and accountable workforce. In practice this approach supports and encourages decisions being taken or shaped by those people most affected by the outcome of the decision. In turn, this shift requires people to become more concerned, more involved and more responsible for how they affect and respond to decision making and influencing opportunities.
This approach is by no means an easy option. Contributing voluntarily and tangibly to influencing and achieving the direction of North Star requires people to look as much to themselves and to each other as to the CEO and Senior Team. A shared model of leadership is based upon the interactions of many rather than only the actions of an individual leader. Such an approach requires courage, confidence and perseverance; for the leader to trust in ‘letting go’ and in distributing power and responsibility throughout the organization and for those in receipt of greater opportunities for influence, that they are open to taking responsibility in a different kind of way whilst differently relating to and with others at all levels within the organisation.
We are determined to be a partner and employer of choice and to differentiate ourselves by the quality of relationships we have with everyone. We believe this will keep North Star strong well into the future and create and develop personal capacity and resilience.
This is why we have achieved Investors in People Gold and why we display Anita Roddick’s quote around the building. We have impact!