A Hotel of Views

Talent management is essential to both the future of the sector and the organisations that make it. Consequently it makes sense to work together to provide what many cannot do on their own.

Let’s Push Things Forward

As Adam Clark noted we still have an issue with people ‘falling’ into the sector like it’s a good thing. Certainly it’s the standard joke at any housing event I’ve been to. But clichés aside we’re still behind on nurturing talent and promoting the sector as a career of choice. Part of the issue is due to the disparate nature of the beast. Whilst there are some behemoths about, the majority fall into the Small to Medium Enterprise category. Whilst not intrinsically a bad thing, it means it’s doubly hard to set up AND maintain talent programmes. They require time, effort and drive. Lose one or two key staff members and the programme falls by the wayside.

The NHF has the Young Leaders events, the CIH has the Rising Stars, both are great for highlighting the potential we have in the sector. Having met winners and finalists of both they are humble, ambitious and utterly talented people. But it strikes me that few have been able to slot into follow-on talent development programmes. The kudos gained from entering national competitions has helped get them noticed but what happens afterwards? Elsewhere the GEM Programme is an exceptional means by which to get graduates into the sector.  But again, what happens after the initial placements end? How do we, as a sector, manage the undoubtedly talented guys and gals that we have?

Ducks fly together

It’s normally at this point in a blog about personal development that Richard Branson is quoted. This blog is no different. For me, the two most notable ones from him/Virgin more generally are:

Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.

If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.

They’re great quotes, and great principles to work towards but where are Housing’s Richard Bransons? I fully agree with Nick Atkin that we need to change our shop window. But to do that we need to have an honest look at ourselves, at who we want to be as organisations and as a sector. I’ve no doubt that many organisations want to develop and invest in their staff above and beyond what they already do. But whilst that willingness may be there in terms of developing talent, the ability to do so might not be.

For me what is needed is a sector wide development programme. One that allows the participants to work within different organisations as well as between different departments as is usually the case. As I’ve said before, we’re pretty darn good at sharing knowledge and best practice. Why not share the nurturing of the talent that will drive us forward?

The advantage of working together is the shared benefits. Organisations without the ability to provide talent programmes of their own would be able to offer their staff an opportunity to develop that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Bigger organisations could benefit from an outside view of their systems and processes that could be otherwise drowned out.  There’s also potential to help even out the mix and match talent managment programmes the sector currently has. Everybody wins.

This approach might not work for all, but the worst that will happen is that we just return to what we’re doing now. Hardly the end of the world in terms of risk, so why not try?

As ever, you can find more of my stuff here and follow me on Twitter here.

Photo Credit – Eirik Refsdal (2007) Scaffold


2 thoughts on “A Hotel of Views

  1. Great blog as usual and I 100% back your views. My job requires me to talk to all types of Housing organisations and their talent programmes and some (a small few) have got it licked, others are on the right path and a significant amount ignore it.
    The good news is that there seems to be a swell of opinion that it MUST be addressed now or we may see the death of Social Housing as an industry. The CIH are getting more serious about their engagement and what they can do to engage and develop their members, organisations seem to be fed up of losing their best people to competitors or other sectors, and as the baby boomers retire, there is a distinct “new horizon” feeling within the sector.
    You ask any graduate or young person what they want in a career. A huge majority of them would say that they want to challenge themselves, be interested in what they are doing and make an impact.
    Housing IS a vibrant, challenging, dynamic and interesting industry. You have to adapt, evolve and drive on again and again. What other industry has to re-invent itself as much as Social Housing has had to?
    I think the CIH has the renewed desire to offer the sector wide development programme that you mentioned, but it needs them and all Housing organisations to come together to work out what is needed, where the skills and knowledge gaps are and how to close them.
    I’d back it for sure!


  2. Great blog post! As it happens, I have just come across a 2006 copy of Inside Housing in my office (don’t ask why I still have it) but it contained 22 pages of jobs! The vast reduction in housing jobs has gone hand-in-hand with a lot of organisations looking for and recruiting people who have already been there and done the role successfully, which basically means its harder and harder for aspiring leaders to really get on. Chicken and egg scenario.
    There has also been the odd article in Inside Housing about orgs doing inter-org job swaps like this one:
    Hardly commonplace but does show that it can and has been done.


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