Five key ways to better harness your agile workforce

Dean Cordingley | 22 June 2021

At a recent webinar, we explored how housing associations can benefit and grow from the recent push towards more agile methods of work bought on by the pandemic. Our own Colin Mercer was joined by Ian Wright from the Disruptive Innovators Network shared these five key ideas.

1. Communication is key
Research shows that when it comes to communication, it is actually a case of quantity over quality. Leaders should share their availability and increase the frequency of communication to their staff over mixed channels.

2. Perfection is overrated
The best organisations (e.g. Amazon) focus on resilience and build agility in to everything. They practice ‘cascading failures’ – where they share failures across the whole organisation, let everyone know what hasn’t gone well, do chaos engineering, or even employ a ‘Master of Disaster’ – to inject chaos (in a controlled way) to test the business.

3. Some people are working from home, others are at home trying to work
The vast diversity in role types and personal circumstance of staff in housing associations engenders the risk of vast inequalities in the ‘home office’. The raft of unintended inequalities needs careful consideration in long term working models and we believe requires a lot more discussion.

4. There’s nothing wrong with ambiguity
There’s no guidebook or framework – consider the ‘Jenga principle’ where you reach and iterate as blocks are removed.

5. Command and control is dead.
Working in a distributed world means visual management is dead and isn’t coming back. The introduction of people and workplace analytics will become necessary to give leaders, the executive and the board reassurance that the organisation is being productive. But this is not without its challenges and conversations need to start early with colleagues so they understand the balance to be struck between support, reassurance and scrutiny.

Dean Cordingley is the principal consultant in our housing interim management team at NSCG. If you’re looking to explore how your housing association can benefit from more agile ways of working, get in touch.

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