22 Aug 2022
I started thinking about this blog in early July against the backdrop of ministerial resignations. As Nadhim Zahawi took up his post as the new government post of Chancellor of the Exchequer, I listened to a radio interview where he pointed out that ministers are often required to take decisions at ‘warp speed’ making the occurrence of some mistakes inevitable. It made me reflect on the fact that colleagues in housing are often faced with serious decisions that will have a huge impact on people’s lives and must be taken quickly.
In my experience, people are forgiving of mistakes made in difficult circumstances. What matters is that they see decisions and actions taken with integrity and competence. I think these are the things people are looking for from anyone in a public or professional role - including anyone working in the housing sector.
For me, this is what professionalisation is all about - competence and integrity. If we are confident that we are acting with competence and integrity, then we can be proud to be professional.
Our roles in housing demand that we are competent to enable us to perform specialised jobs that require knowledge, skills, experience, and understanding. In turn, this requires us to identify ourselves as professionals. A professional might be required to undertake specific training or hold certain qualifications. Sometimes we hold a registration and are required to complete continuing professional development to maintain it. All roles working in housing can gain qualifications and hold memberships that demonstrate their professional knowledge and experience in their field of expertise.
Our roles also demand that we practice with integrity. Professionalism describes how a person conducts themselves to do the job. It is often understood as adherence to a set of standards, code of conduct, or behaviours. Most professional bodies have a code of conduct or set of standards that define the behaviour expected by anyone in a profession. Professionalism provides the foundation stone for professional identity. It defines the beliefs and values that determine how every professional describes themselves and provides the moral compass that enables ethical decision making and confident practice. It enables us to act consciously and to do the right thing in the most complex and challenging of circumstances, even when we are making decisions at “warp speed.” The CIH professional standards provide the blueprint for professional behaviour and practice with integrity in social housing. These are echoed in LiveWest’s Our Behaviours, which describes what it looks like when LiveWest colleagues live our values in their day-to-day work.
Both aspects, being a professional and professionalism are important and combine to create our approach to professionalisation in LiveWest. Developing the skills and knowledge needed by each professional and nurturing the professionalism and integrity with which every colleague undertakes their day-to-day work is essential. Housing organisations need to pay attention to these and create the culture and leadership which enable professionalisation. I am looking forward to meeting colleagues at the CIH conference in September and sharing more about our professionalisation journey and how we are creating the culture In LiveWest where professionalisation can thrive.