Case Studies: Clyde Valley Housing Association

Case Studies: Clyde Valley Housing Association

No 5, 100 Best Places to Work in the Public and Charity Sectors, 2011

Comment: “I can’t adequately put into words just what being listed as a top 5 Company in the UK means to all of us here at Clyde Valley Group. It’s even more difficult when you consider the sheer quality of the total 100 list itself for Charities and Public Bodies. For me you just can’t deliver outstanding service results without outstanding people, and from our Board of Trustees to our front line service staff, that’s exactly what we have here. This is their award.

Judith and her team at Great Companies Consulting have been instrumental in bringing the best out of us and identifying and coaching on those areas we needed to work on, so we just couldn’t have achieved this recognition without them- a huge thanks from everyone at Clyde Valley Group”. Tom Barclay, CEO

Tom Barclay, CEO, heard Judith speak on the subject of ‘Becoming an Employer of Choice’ and asked his colleague Nareen Owens to get in touch. The first meeting took place in the delightful Macintosh café in Glasgow and they discussed in detail the needs of the company and how they might move closer to the style of workplace culture they wanted. Together Nareen and Judith worked out a four step plan of action:

Narren: "For Clyde Valley this was about really changing the focus and culture of our organisation to start recognising and building on the success of our great people and addressing those more negative areas – essentially – the elephants in the room."

Step One
Marianne and Judith went into the company for one day to run a Rapid Diagnostic Process (RDP), talking with small groups of people at all levels to find out how they experienced working at CVHA. The information was shared with Tom at the end of the day.

Comments included:

  • Managers are approachable, but not always accessible
  • You can put your hand up to mistakes
  • Appraisals are OK, but little feedback on how you are doing
  • Managers are primarily business focused, rather than people focused

Tom was brilliant in his willingness to hear what his people had to say and was keen to take the next steps towards building a great workplace at CVHA.

Narren: "This initial diagnostic process demonstrated to our people that we were serious about hearing what they had to say. We needed their views, ideas and feedback to help us make that start in changing how we did things.  We were delighted that our people got really involved and didn’t hold back."

Step Two
Marianne and Judith facilitated a joint workshop with the Senior Management team and the middle manager community. The purpose was to come to agreement about the way forward – agree on the culture that would deliver the business outputs; identify the leadership/management behaviours required to drive that culture; and explore how the two teams wanted to work together.

Since it is not easy to talk openly in front of the boss, we split into the two teams and came back with feedback for each other. Both teams shared openly together and agreements were made about future behaviours and relationships. A major result at this time was the manager community taking on responsibility for arranging the company conference, supported by GCC.

Narren: "This session has been the making of our management team and we still talk about the change defining moment – which we refer to the ‘Holiday Inn Moment’ (where we were at the time).  We now have a real sense of ownership and clear lines of responsibility at this level."

Step Three
A wonderful conference day was had by all, looking at company values and defining a profile of the ideal employee for Clyde Valley Housing Association. The sense of belonging was increased and commitment to the company grew overnight.

Narren: "This was the first time that the Managers really shaped and led on our conference and the difference in feedback from staff was great.  We originally titled the conference ‘Good to Great’ but due to staff demand changed this to ‘Great to Excellent."

Step Four
Judith worked with the senior team to review their working relationships and explore how to become Great Leaders, while Marianne and Andrew ran the Inspirational Manager programme with the manager community.

Outputs from both were good and managers really picked up the baton with regard to the task of people management.

Narren: "The inspirational manager session work produced immediate results for us and changed the way we worked with each other.  Having open, honest (courageous conversations) is the ethos of our meetings and the feedback we received from doing this with each other helped develop and share our Managers.  Feedback from this work was overwhelmingly positive, and we still use our learning today – one team member summed it up by saying – we have had lots of different types of training and management sessions, however, this time was different – it has stuck."

In executive coaching, Tom (CEO) worked at refining his leadership behaviour, building on the positive profile he already had within the business.

Overall, great stories were created and the new culture began to develop.

Since this time, the company have continued to grow in stature. Now feedback from employees is of a different hue:

  • Managers encourage staff to give their best every day – 77%
  • Managers regularly express their appreciation for good work – 83%
  • Managers are open and honest – 87%

And the company earns second place overall for the category of My Manager. People Focus is definitely in the frame now with real business benefits.
A company that is certainly worthy of that Number Five position in the Best Places to Work list!


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