This week I was proud to accept the Best Employers Eastern Region, Most Improved award on behalf of Hundred Houses Society. This recognises our “phenomenal” (their words) improvement in employee engagement since 2016. The award is based on results from ananonymous employee surveys.
Our employees regularly go “above and beyond” what is expected of them to help our customers so ensuring that we support them is really important so inevitably I’ve been reflecting on all the things that we have done and wondering what had the most impact in delivering this improvement. In 2016 we were still in the middle of a large change programme, some of which had been forced upon us. We didn’t have a lot of spare resource, but we knew the support of our employees was critical to achieving all that was planned. We therefore, had to look for a few key things that we could do that would have maximum impact. The areas we focussed on were:
- Supporting our Managers. We started by agreeing what we meant by management so that we all had clear expectations. Inevitably there was a fair amount of agreement but there were a few areas, such a risk management, where we had to take some time to clarify to reach agreement. At the end of this we came up with a simple statement of what was expected of a manager at Hundred Houses. Our managers then identified the areas where they wanted support. Most of this we were able to deliver ourselves, usually over lunchtime by sharing experiences. It seemed there was always someone who was good in the particular area and was happy to share their approach and learning with us. These sessions have now developed into more of a regular management team meeting, where managers provide updates and share information, but they still retain the ethos of learning together.
- Improving Communication. Despite being a relatively small team and all based in one office, we realised that communication was not consistent or comprehensive for everyone. So we introduced an “All Team Briefing” session each month. We delivered this twice so that we didn’t have to close the office and it covered what was going on internally and externally. It gave us the chance to consult on our plans and provide briefings on issues. It also enabled us to get feedback on any issues and concerns, which helped us address these promptly. Our Chief Executive also hosted a few open door sessions to enable people to come and chat about anything they wanted to with her.
- Introducing Coaching. Our People Strategy included the development of coaching skills, so we started this process with everyone having a half day of training. This helps us all to understand the basics of coaching and how coaching skills could be used by all of us. With this common understanding established some of our team voluntarily took their learning further and then shared this with their teams and colleagues. which kept a momentum going and started to establish coaching as our preferred way of working. Whilst we still have a way to go, the skills of active listening and asking insightful questions have improved our meetings and communications already.
Although we did several other things, these are the ones that I believe had the most impact for us. It will be interesting to hear what my colleagues, and you, think. Do let me know.