Midland Heart: Speaking Out Training
“The work we are doing with RightTrack is all part of a journey… It’s about having a culture that supports equality, that supports diversity, and gets the message across that it’s ok to speak out and that it’s ok to raise issues informally…”
Ruth Cooke, CEO, Midland Heart
Midland Heart are is one of the top housing associations in the UK, providing affordable housing to over 70 000 customers. They have a strong commitment to the development of their people and wanted to expand their suite of existing equality and diversity training to nurture a culture of ‘speaking out’. They sought a provider to develop a solution that was flexible, practical, sustainable and cost-conscious.
Excited to have won the project after a rigorous tendering process we kick-started with our tried and tested familiarisation and research process to get under the skin of the organisation, delve deeper into the development need and mold the required solution.
A series of focus groups open for anyone to attend enabled Equality & Diversity specialist and project lead, Lynne Hunt, to understand when people might need to ‘speak out’ at Midland Heart – with customers or colleagues. When they have and how it went; and when they hadn’t and what had stopped them.
A half day ‘Speaking Out’ training programme was born, as a direct response to the feedback received, to equip approximately 2,000 Midland Heart employees with a toolkit of skills and the confidence to have courageous conversations, and to be able to accept feedback when challenged. Roll-out kicked off with Senior Managers and Directors, including the CEO. The second phase focused on training managers, inclusive of additional skills to support their teams to embed the learning. And finally to the rest of the organisation.
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To achieve a work-based culture where dignity and respect are the norm, people need to be confident to speak out about behaviour or comments that they find inappropriate or offensive, and for that feedback to be received in a constructive way.
This memorable workshop supports and encourages individuals, at all levels, to have informal, amicable conversations – so people give and receive feedback in the right way, learn and move on. Using card games to stimulate group discussion, poignant media clips to explore The Bystander Effect and a Speaking Out Toolkit to play with, delegates leave the programme:
- Understanding why it’s good to speak out – personal, team and organisational benefits
- Understanding how to personally contribute to and influence that culture
- Knowing where acceptable behaviour boundaries are and able to recognise discriminatory/inappropriate behaviours
- Know when and how to manage or respond to those constructively
- Have tangible, positive actions to take back to the workplace
“I feel confident to share my knowledge with other Midland Heart staff as well as providing information to customers on Speaking Out if they hear or see something they feel inappropriate.”
“The training was very informative and relevant to my job role – we often come across customers with challenging behaviour…. The training has taught me how to deal with those customers and how I should set a good example in tackling inappropriate behaviour at work”
“This course has made me look at what I do in my daily job, as well daily life. Knowing not to take things for granted. If this course has a Part 2 I would attend! I thoroughly enjoyed the course, and the trainer. Thank you.”
- 96.6 % of staff now understand what is meant by ‘inappropriate behaviour’
- 98.9% now know how to address inappropriate behaviour
- 93.2% now have more confidence to challenge inappropriate behaviour
Forming a long-term partnership with our customers is one of our favourite things, and having worked closely with Midland Heart for a number of years, we have become what feels like an extension of the team.
In addition to the Speaking Out project, we have also been invited to run focus groups to inform the revision of Midland Heart’s Equality Scheme; design an Equality & Diversity in Recruitment & Selection programme (which we trained and handed over to the internal development team); and delivered a series of Unconscious Bias training programmes.