Social Housing Leading Thoughts

This is a living, evolving page of one line thoughts and reflections for leaders and managers in social housing.

These thoughts should provide inspiration, get you thinking, and are ideal for discussion in meetings, at away days and on training courses.

The page grows over time…

Tenants feel they have rights; customers feel they have choice.

If you overload your frontline staff, you also under-serve your tenants.

Many long serving frontline staff have become institutionalised, derisive of senior management initiatives and reluctant to change; they are the hardworking, battle weary troops, too used to war, too familiar with the rhetoric of peace.

Most long standing tenants believe that new maintenance systems and arrangements can be bypassed by a well placed call to the right person higher up.

Many new tenants have higher demands as customers than ten years ago; many also have lower expectations.

One of the easiest ways to destroy trust between a housing association and its tenants is to publish a customer charter and then not deliver on it.

A truly socially focused housing association should seek to make a consciously planned surplus, not make a clumsy profit.

A bad inspection or quality report is a wakeup call – not to comply but to excel.

We can get very arrogant with our tenants because it isn’t easy for them to go elsewhere. That lack of easy mobility can make us complacent in the area of customer service.

If you under-resource your internal I.T. Service, the strain will eventually show on the customer front line.

A key performance indicator should help to keep staff conscious and authentically motivated. If it feels like a stick to beat them with, it will fail in action. KPIs can become measures of stress rather then performance.

When your frontline staff are going off sick as the only way to deal with pressure and stress, then your resource model isn’t lean; it is short sighted and dumb.

A cheap build will create a low value customer or tenant relationship.

Expertise isn’t the same as experience. Expertise without experience can act like a blunt instrument or too sharp knife. Experience without enterprise can be dangerous, our of touch and incorrect. When there’s a balance, there’s true effectiveness.

You can’t train people to be warm and genuine with customers or tenants. A one day course won’t do it. It needs a change of heart. It needs a wish to be of service.

Bureaucracy in social housing is a form of psychological insecurity. Tenancy agreements and customer charters often have more asterixes and small print than the very worst mobile phone contracts.

Tenants do not usually appreciate glossy leaflets and brochures and expensive branding changes when they are told services are being cut because of difficult financial times.

More to come.

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About Paul Levy

Paul is a writer, thinker, facilitator, theatre-maker, and conversifier. He is the author of the book, Digital Inferno.

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