Turning a local authority department into an independent organisation means major change. Internally it’s a new structure, new systems – and new staff. Externally it should mean significantly improved services for users. Good on paper, but just how do you transform an organisation from being reactive to proactive? From handling services, to working with users to design the services they want? That requires a whole new way of working. Find out how The Management Centre (=mc) helped Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP) create that change.
A key driver in DGHP becoming an independent residential social landlord was to be able to significantly improve the service they could provide to their users. However, the organisational structure and culture they had inherited from the local authority made moving to a new structure a difficult task. Everything needed to change – but it couldn’t all happen at once. At the very least the current level of service needed to continue while internal structures, systems and staffing were sorted out. First on the agenda was structure. DGHP move from being organised around areas to being organised around functional departments.
This transformation created new teams, and with them new managers whose role had fundamentally changed. Of course the domino effect of change then meant that to really excel in their new roles, these managers needed to improve their personal effectiveness and their ability to manage performance. Not only that, but the evolving priorities within the housing sector also meant that they needed to be ready to adapt to change themselves, while leading their teams through change.
Added to all that, DGHP senior managers felt, rightly, that they could radically improve the services to users if the new structure was backed up by a less hierarchical, more proactive, and above all consistent management culture. It needed a two-pronged approach. First, ensure consistency in the level of service through shared working and management practices – internal alignment. Second, improve the service by developing managers who set high standards, challenged poor performance, and saw themselves as leaders within the organisation.
They called in =mc.
Working closely with DGHP, =mc Learning & Development consultants devised and delivered an integrated management development programme. Made up of six modules, the programme was designed to bring all managers up to the same high level of understanding and excellence in their core performance areas:
Each module combined theories, tools and techniques with active learning. Active learning gives participants the opportunity to put the theory into practice during the training, and then roots it back in their workplace. As well as boosting the skills of individual managers, DGHP’s management development programme successfully established consistent management practices across the organisation – and began the process of instilling the desired culture of leadership.
Endgame: applying the learning – and more
Feedback from managers has been excellent. Firmly rooting the theories and their new skills in their workplace has given them the confidence – and ability – to apply the learning in real situations. In particular, the Intelligent Leadership© model has had a big impact. Developed by =mc, it helps managers to use the appropriate management style for the person and situation they are addressing. The senior team have noticed a huge difference in managers’ confidence.
The training has also given managers more interest in their own development. =mc and DGHP are now working to set up ‘Action Learning Sets’ – half-day sessions where managers meet to share and discuss their current challenges and successes, and coach each other to improve performance. This ongoing peer-to-peer learning will support managers atDGHP as they improve services and continue on the way to their mission of becoming the best housing association in Scotland.
“=mc‘s inspirational learning & development consultants have helped us to transform management practices at DGHP. They have given our managers the confidence and expertise needed to constantly strive for improved performance in an evolving organisation.”
Allan Kerr, former Head of Human Resources, Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership
Previously part of the local authority, Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP) became an independent housing association in 2003. It currently looks after around 10,400 affordable rented homes across the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland.