Although the CIH Professional Standards initially posed a conundrum for LiveWest, who had launched their own standards just months before, Leadership Development manager Jane Pightling explains how the two sets of values were more compatible than it first seemed
When the CIH launched its Professional Standards in March this year it felt like a landmark moment, a huge leap forward for the professionalisation agenda. At LiveWest, we are aware of the huge challenges the sector is facing. Decarbonisation, an increased demand for housing, supply chain and recruitment challenges, the need to clear the backlog of works created by COVID-19, and the uncomfortable glare of media attention on the sector.
Next to these complex challenges, Professional Standards can seem like a sideshow.
At LiveWest, we have not been subject to media attention, but we feel the impact and we are wrestling with everything else. Our colleagues have been working hard, but there are still things we want to do better.
We are currently engaged in a culture programme using symbols, systems, and behaviours as levers. Our values – 10 behaviours and 25 culture descriptors – were developed with colleagues and customers, and we launched Our Behaviours a couple months before the CIH launched the Professional Standards.
The launch of the Professional Standards presented us with a bit of a dilemma. We believe the CIH professional standards are significant: they can help to enhance the professional reputation and capabilities of people who work in social housing, improve the quality of service to our customers, and promote the standing of the whole sector. We want to collaborate, unify our voice and work with others across the sector.
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At the same time, we are proud of our LiveWest values, culture, and behaviours; and we want to take them with us into our future. We also want all colleagues across LiveWest to be able to use one framework to know what is expected of them and not have to use several frameworks or duplicate work.
Our challenge was to integrate all these ambitions into an aligned approach that could deliver all of these outcomes. We mapped the CIH Professional Standards against Our Behaviours and found that, although we used different language and grouped the elements differently, all Our Behaviours link to and cover all of the CIH Professional Standards.
For those that prefer a simple format, we created a table cataloguing the links. For those that prefer a big picture view, we used KUMU to create an interactive map. We summarised the work into a document called QuickStart Guide, so all colleagues can easily access the information and find links to the detail of Our Behaviours and the CIH Professional Standards as needed.
“We mapped the CIH Professional Standards against Our Behaviours and found that all Our Behaviours link to and cover all of the CIH Professional Standards”
Colleagues started to use Our Behaviours in their day-to-day work, interactions, team meetings, performance, and development reviews and communications. They are helping us all to focus. Not just on what we are doing, but how we are doing it and what we stand for. They are the key to professionalisation and delivering great services to our customers.
Recent feedback from colleagues also revealed this work as a useful resource for anyone completing CIH qualifications and considering how Professional Standards are being used in their day-to-day work and across the business.
The Professional Standards can help with many of the challenges we face in social housing. Not least, they can help us step up and claim our professional identity as housing colleagues. To nail our colours to the mast in terms of our commitment to the highest standards of behaviours and ethics.
I think it’s always been the case that a group of skilled, talented, and passionate individuals operating in the wrong environment or culture can, without malice or intention, fail to do good or even do harm. Our Behaviours and CIH standards provide the golden threads that will be woven into the fabric of our systems and processes as we continue our culture change work at LiveWest.
Now we have these standards, our next job is to create the culture that promotes and enables all of us to live up to them.
Image: Jane Pighting, Leadership Development manager, LiveWest
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