Making Engagement Central: Fierce in action at Stockport Homes
Stockport Homes was designing a leadership development framework when it first contacted PDA in 2015. The organizational development team at Stockport saw Fierce Conversations as a completely different leadership approach. They liked its focus on cultural change and practical models that could be used straight away.
Stockport Homes is an Arm’s Length Management Organisation (ALMO) with over 30,000 customers. It manages and develops housing on behalf of Stockport Council, owns properties and manages others on behalf of private landlords.
The organisation is undergoing change as it prepares to move to a new headquarters in 2017 and is looking at new ways for teams to work together. Fierce principles are seen as a perfect match for Stockport’s own priorities.
“I think the point is that [Fierce] is trying to get you to achieve the same things in a quick and straight forward way and perhaps more importantly take people as human beings with you. And that actually is in line with our vision, which is to deliver the best service possible by being the best place to work.” –Helen McHale, chief executive, Stockport Homes
“I go into meetings now where people say: ‘Well if I am being Fierce’. So you are getting the information that you actually want.”—Chris Uzoigwe, Corporate Services
The conversational models that Fierce offers are allowing Stockport Homes people to more effectively confront the challenges that the ALMO faces in a changing environment. And there is widespread acknowledgement that Fierce allows people to talk more comfortably about those challenges.
“I am more likely to have those difficult conversations with people than I had before. So ultimately in terms of the development of the people I manage, they are going to get a clearer view of how they can do things better in a positive way.”—Rob Lloyd, Corporate Services
Succession Planning and developing team confidence
The OD team see Fierce’s delegation approach of ‘decision trees’ as a way of helping succession planning, and also reducing the need for a plethora of additional courses.
Line managers across the organisation are appreciating the additional experience and responsibility it is giving colleagues.
“It’s being able to delegate more and making the decision on what you can push out of your own remit and leaving people to do those things themselves, and allowing them to. Giving you the confidence to do that, but also building people’s confidence by you doing that.” – Clelia Simpson, corporate finance, Stockport Homes
“Together with the Fierce Conversation, you can get a much greater understanding and empowerment from individuals, and I will be using that in my team meetings, my one to ones and obviously with colleagues across the organization.”—John Chambers, Head of IT
Fierce’s tools including the beachball model have been enthusiastically adopted within Stockport as it looks at new ways of fostering interdepartmental working and making all meetings smarter. People are looking at issues from others’ perspectives, and leveraging the extra insight that provides.
“We have been in three or four meetings where we have actually used beach ball conversations, and the value that someone from outside comes in and asks you the question, ‘So, ok, why are you doing that?’ And you think, I never thought of it from someone else’s perspective. Brilliant.
So after the ones I have been to the feedback I’ve got is thanks for your input it’s been really helpful. I don’t think there is anything more you can say when you get feedback like that.” —Chris Uzoigwe, Corporate Services.
“Neighbourhood Services have utilised Fierce’s beach ball model with the wider management team and staff, exploring perspectives to produce collaborative solutions. They have also become self-sufficient with this process, so I no longer facilitate the sessions, they do them themselves, checking in with me from time to time to discuss progress.” —Liz Chadwick, head of organizational development
Seeing the results
As of autumn 2016, 140 Stockport Homes people with line management, supervision, and business partnership responsibilities have been on Fierce workshops. Half attended the workshops run by PDA. Subsequently the OD team became accredited trainers, and they have been able to take the training in-house.
Stockport Homes is following up their progress with evaluations and work to embed learning, including an internal email and poster campaign to highlight core Fierce principles and approaches.
Stockport Homes is anticipating that effective Fierce implementation will result in stronger team work, leadership and productivity.
“people will be direct and honest and will be effective and that will help people to feel emotionally at ease, and that people work as part of the team.”—Helen McHale, chief executive.