Housing group tasks community project for manager development

From: Echelon
Published: Tue Jan 09 2007

Echelon Learning’s Community Project Challenge (CPC) is being tasked to support the West Midlands-based Festival Housing Group’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) goals and achieve Cert.M qualification as a key plank in its career development programme for managers.

CPC participants use action learning methods to manage a 'real time' project. Support is provided via a programme coach and a bespoke project web site which fields a variety of online project management and knowledge tools. A personal learning log provides evidence for qualifications and continuous professional development (CPD).

Established in March 2002, Festival Housing’s origins lie in the transfer to its member housing associations of local authority housing stock from Malvern Hills District Council and Wychavon District Council.

With a remit to offer good quality of life through healthy and sustainable communities, the Group today owns and manages 8,000 properties, providing affordable housing, student and market-rent accommodation, care and supported housing, and building maintenance services.

Supporting aims, focused on increasing capacity to deliver corporate objectives and drive improvement, include the clear need to attract, develop and retain the best quality staff and Board members.

This project seeks to help Festival become an attractive local employer. It also supports the development of staff in 21st century management and communication skills (course members have rapidly become adept at using the online project management tools available on the project website) and help build useful cross organisation relationships in an organisation spanning several counties.

Selected managers use this innovative learning and organisation development model to establish a mutual benefit partnership with two local secondary schools.

A core aim of Festival Housing is to become a local employer of choice by providing students with a structured work experience programme that attracts them to work with the Group and by providing helpful careers support to local schools.

It looks additionally to integrate the community partnership development model into the FH Certificate in Management Programme and further assist its staff in acquiring new skills in a work based environment and also encourage their CPD.

The CPC programme consists of a specific time-bound project of around three months in duration.

Each participant spends around five days on the project, which aligns specific organisational objectives with prescribed learning outcomes, and is coached and facilitated throughout by Echelon consultants to build partnerships, experience and evidence Cert.M learnings, manage individual and team performance, organisational change, and deliver a sustainable solution.

Participants also have access to the bespoke CPC website. A development, communications and project management hub, and a repository of downloadable learning and development tools, it is a facility that can be extended to other users and for longer if required.

For Festival Housing, the programme provides an active, assessable, development opportunity underpinning all the Cert.M modules using action learning methods with assessable evidence across the whole programme and with specific evidence for Workshop 3.1 Managing Change.

Project lead at Festival Housing Group, Kay Dovey sees CPC enabling a corporate project management framework benefiting the organisation in improved project management skills and cross-organisational networking and enhanced performance on key reputation indices.

"We are developing an understanding and methodology for coaching at work and embedding learning into the organisation in a practical and sustainable way," she says.

"CPC is helping improve individual and team effectiveness and aligning our outputs more closely to customer needs which in turn is improving customer satisfaction. Longer-term, CPC provides support succession planning by identifying relevant programme participants."

Further information on Echelon CPC from Jenny Hill on tel. 020 8568 1500; email jenny@echelonL.com

Festival Housing CPC – action summary…
• The initial proposal to the five local schools and a decision about the broad objectives sought from CPC is agreed upon
• Agreement from managers is sought and suitable participants selected from across the Group
• Programme Planning commences with decisions on detailed objectives and the content and design of the web site
• Echelon team meets with management to understand business needs
• Echelon facilitator/coach meets with all team members individually to understand their personal learning priorities and then with the team as a whole to explain CPC process and agree potential projects to propose to schools using action learning methods.
• The facilitator coaches the team in how to approach schools and gain insight into their needs. The team works with the schools to fully understand customer needs and suggests options for suitable projects. The process of mutual partnership commences.
• A facilitated planning and strategy workshop is devised to create a long term vision and short term team strategy to achieve the agreed goals and outcomes and ensure a true win-win is created
• The team works with the schools to put the new Partnership Programme in place.
• Implementation of the programme results in long term partnerships that are of real mutual benefit.
• A one day review and application workshop with the team and meetings with each participant is held where all team members reflect on their experience and develop greater awareness of their own capabilities and development opportunities. They identify how to embed and sustain learning from the experience into their work. They also agree how they will hand over the project to the next team and support its ongoing success.

Released January 2007 on behalf of Echelon Publishing by BLP&PR

Media contact: Peter Muir Tel + 44 (0)1296 715228
Email: echelon@pmpr.co.uk

Sales contact: David Hill Tel + 44 (0)20 8568 1500
Email: david@echelonl.com

About Echelon CPC
Echelon CPC is a management development initiative delivering sustainable, results in areas of individual learning, teambuilding project management and community social responsibility.
Organisations commission this approach to learning when they need to develop leadership and management skills and deliver accredited programmes; improve project and team working; build teams and networks across the organisation; secure improved performance on delivering sustainable outcomes; enhance corporate social responsibility amongst managers.
Echelon facilitators train Project Leaders or participants to deliver a sustainable outcome for a local community by managing a time bound project lasting around three months to build partnerships, manage individual and team performance and deliver a sustainable solution.
They aim to establish and meet personal development needs aligned with organisational priorities; transfer and sustain learning to improve performance; publish and share best practice via a bespoke web site which acts as a development, communications and tracking hub (ideal for accredited programmes).
The site can contain online diagnostics for 360 degree review, learning preferences and work/life balance. It can also offer a library of performance support tools and checklists as well as trainers tools for action learning, PDP logs and validation and evaluation tools.

About Echelon Learning

Echelon Learning is a consultancy-led publishing house that integrates electronically-delivered knowledge and learning into the development of management skills and business performance.

Echelon Consulting spearheads the company’s service with the development of new content in meeting clients’ requirements. This is usually derived from analysing employee knowledge and learning needs captured during client learning programmes.

Where appropriate, Echelon Publishing then offers this new content to a wider audience by publishing the material in generic format. This is made available in the form of easy to use ‘learning nuggets’ and is complimented with business development information licensed exclusively from one of the market’s best-known providers, Bloomsbury.

Echelon e-Learning provides the electronic systems which enable content to be published, distributed and usage tracked, and offers work-based solutions to a global audience. Now
Echelon’s blended learning based on a bespoke site populated with material selected to support specific courses, builds knowledge prior to the event and refreshes application when back at the desk.

About Echelon Publishing
Echelon technologies help organisations place solutions at people’s fingertips, whether solving everyday business and work-related problems or helping gain qualifications and continued professional development.
• Has a content management system enabling informational or learning material to be developed or converted into XML so that it can be published and distributed in text and/or via the web.
• Has a learning management system to provide ready access via the web to highly structured information, which is easily searched and retrieved, and whose usage can be tracked and learning logged.
• Publishes and/or reformats content for professional bodies and commercial organisations to help students and employees maintain or develop requisite skills throughout their careers.
• Supports people from the outset of their careers in working with professional bodies to develop and deliver the learning content required by students in preparing for examination.
• Frees up the knowledge and learning contained within a business so that people have ready access to these resources in helping them to solve problems or develop their careers.
Company: Echelon
Contact Name: Bob Little
Contact Email: bob.little@dial.pipex.com
Contact Phone: 00 44 (0) 1 727 860405

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