Posted on 9th August 2022
Northampton Partnership Homes (NPH) was set up in January 2015 as an Arm’s Length Management Organisation (ALMO)to manage Northampton Borough Council’s stock of housing. This means as well as managing allocations and lettings, NPH also maintain the housing stock, support tenants, and deliver projects to increase the volume of affordable housing available in the County.
Changes in local government saw two new Unitary Councils set up on 1st April 2021 and Northampton Borough Council became part of West Northamptonshire Council. We were approached in 2019 to discuss putting together a future leader's programme that would help senior leaders to start taking a longer-term view of the organisation. Mike Kay, the CEO, set out his requirements as a programme that would:
Drive further behavioural change into the workplace, individually and collectively
Cut across organisational silos
Move colleagues from being managers to leaders engaged in the whole organisation and its mission
Grow individual and team capability
NPH had run leadership programmes before but had found that they had little traction beyond a few weeks after the end of a workshops and were looking for something that would really embed and deliver long term change.
We started by exploring with the senior management team (EMT) and some of the potential in scope participants what was needed and what would make a difference. Based on this discovery work we agreed the following set of design principles:
The workshops would not be run in the main NPH offices so participants wouldn’t get ‘hijacked’ in breaks
We would get speakers from different organisations in and around Northampton, so participants could see other styles of leadership – many having only ever worked in NPH
We wouldn’t spend time looking at case studies, but get the participants to use their real work throughout the workshops.
It wouldn’t be a one-off intervention – but combine multiple workshops with Action Learning Sets, 1:1 Coaching and self-driven learning activity
This led to the following design:
The pandemic significantly delayed the project and as a result NPH decided to also run a more skills focussed middle leaders programme based on the design for the senior leaders. This consisted of three one day programmes with action learning sets between the workshops. The main programme – Budling Leaders – ran afterwards.
We talked to Mike Kay after the end of the workshop and were delighted to hear him say that the programme was probably the best they’ve ever had in terms of the feedback he’s received. Participants have changed their approaches and told the EMT that they feel valued and appreciated.
In turn the EMT have let go of things and gave the participants a session at a recent all staff conference to share some of their experiences and do some exercises with all the staff to help drive wider cultural change in the business – something the organisation would not have had the confidence to do before the programme.
These were cited as the impact by participants:
Higher levels of customer service
Improved staff morale, empowerment of staff and cohesive and efficient working between teams
Improved services to our customers
Leading by example and ensure that the vision, mission and values of the business are clear and widely demonstrated through actions
Improved culture and greater levels of both customer and staff satisfaction
“knowing my own traits has helped me understand how others may see me and how and why I do the things I do”
“Developed a strong trust between us, which has allowed positive conflict. … to the point where these individuals have a high level of commitment and accountability”
“more comfortable in being authentic, but to also recognise that although I have my preferred leadership and management style it is important to step outside of that when the need arises and realise that I can do so.”
“previously struggled with difficult conversations, and keeping them succinct - used newly learnt knowledge and worked to great effect.”
“by encouraging a strategic mindset … we can grow and enhance the aspects of our services that we sometimes struggle with. “
“by supporting my team leaders to grow and have more input into the day-to-day tasks, they now have a greater understanding of the wider context within our business from a strategic perspective, rather than continuing to fire fight. “
“… saying no or setting realistic expectations helps to manage workload, all parties have the same understanding and workload is controlled to a sensible level”
“… small but very powerful changes. “
“I have had mixed results from coaching over the last 10 years … (this) helped me unlock parts of me that allowed me to understand and see things differently. “
Working with colleagues
“Our cohort are an amazing group of individuals who are dedicated and passionate to making a difference and I would like to thank them for making this course such a success.”
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