The New Year is a time to reflect on the past, look forward to the future and establish firm resolutions to change what you don’t like (and do more of what you do well). Whilst “Lessons from Statutory Intervention” by the Scottish Housing Regulator (December 2018) may not be top of your 2019 ‘must read’ list, it is an essential guide for all social landlords to ensure that you are on top of your game for the new year ahead.
To summarise: most Scottish social landlords are well-run and “deliver good quality homes and services” - however, complacency and hubris can lead to things going seriously wrong that might require the regulator to intervene. Failures of Governance or Financial Management are rooted in weak governance and oversight, with ineffectual cultures and leadership leading to poor behaviours and significant underperformance. In summary, the regulator is likely to intervene if:
- members of the board don’t know what they don’t know.
- the Board do not seek assurance or challenge the executive effectively.
- the organisation does not seek to involve or engage customers and staff.
- the organisation has poor or non-existent internal audit.
- the continuing effectiveness of Board members is not assessed.
- there is a lack of transparency with stakeholders, especially with lenders.
- there is no effective system of internal controls.
Our performance tools can help you to: assess yourselves against established standards, or develop your own; develop your strategy and link it to implementation plans; monitor performance with relevant performance indicators; clearly establish and effectively manage your risks; provide assurance to stakeholders that your controls are effective (for example using ‘3 lines of defence’); gain insight into what your data is telling you, enabling robust challenge; assess and develop the competencies of your board and staff.
So here are four “simple” New Year’s resolutions that you should consider for the year ahead:
- Challenge your status quo and establish a system of checks and balances that will ensure that you are doing what you should be doing - instead of just doing what you’ve always done. Don’t simply pay lip service to regulation but use it as a tool to probe and test your strategic plans.
- Develop a truly performant culture that focuses on achievement - not merely on doing - with regular monitoring to ensure that you are continuing to head in the right direction. Central to this is recognising that problems should not be hidden but exposed, communicated and effectively dealt with. Be honest and have a plan.
- Effectively engage with your customers and your staff to ensure that their voices are heard and valued.
- Regularly and actively manage your performance. Don’t wait for the quarterly or half-yearly performance reports which will arrive too late for you to make appropriate changes. Driving using the rear-view mirror is not a good resolution.