Manor Estates Case Study

The Client

Manor Estates is a housing association (and registered charity) providing housing and related services throughout the city of Edinburgh.  As well as offering housing for rent, the Association also provides a factoring service for around 1700 owners.

The Association operates from one office in Edinburgh and employs 22 staff, 7 of whom work part-time.

The Client’s Challenge

Initially we were looking for help in improving staff morale and motivation – although there were not huge problems within the office, there was a perception that some people were feeling a bit negative, not necessarily about work, but about the general atmosphere within the office.

John Armstrong had come to our attention through a word-of-mouth recommendation (always the best kind!), so we got in touch.  John worked with us to prepare a programme for the day that was both fun and challenging – and one that really gave the staff ownership of what was going on.

The Trainer’s Solution

Our first awayday took place in May – and was a great success.  Staff were involved in preparing for the event beforehand and really pulled together as teams, demonstrating almost immediately that we had positive foundations to build on to achieve our aim of improving staff morale and motivation.

During that first session John introduced us to the Fish! Philosophy – nearly 18 months later we are still referring to the key principles (Choose your attitude; Play; Be there; and Make their day).  We made significant progress on that day and John left us with the challenge of how we could maintain that achievement on an ongoing and day-to-day basis.

Staff feedback on the day was extremely positive.

Management Team

Following on from the first session, we invited John to do some work with our Senior Management Team.  The Association already had a Staff Charter in place and we wanted to look at bringing together a Management Charter that would give a clear picture of both what the managers’ roles are within the organisation and how we approach our work.

The day we spent with John was certainly challenging – it helped us to focus on issues like giving and receiving constructive criticism and also allowed us to recognise that there was still a way to go in terms of fully developing our Management Charter and how we would link that to the values of the organisation.

Bringing it all together

Our last session with John brought management and staff back together.  Again there was considerable preparation beforehand – but that enabled us to jointly produce a revised statement of the Association’s values, which we could then clearly use as a link between the Staff and Management Charters.  Again, the day was a mixture of hard work and fun; we left with some sense of conclusion, but with a clear vision that we would need to work hard to make the Charters work.

Has it made a difference?

We think so!  It is a difficult area to measure, because we didn’t have an aim to increase productivity or reduce absenteeism, but rather improve morale and motivation within the office.  But what we can do is speak to our staff and find out if they believe anything has changed – let’s hear what they have to say.

“I feel we have a much more relaxed atmosphere to work in now. We seem to appreciate other staffs’ workloads and pressures. I feel we are all working together and helping each other more. We congratulate each other and take pride on our achievements.”

There is a recognition that we need to continue to work together to make this work on an ongoing basis, without getting bogged down in the day-to-day work that we have to do.  We all need to recognise our individual roles in working within the terms of the Charters that we have agreed.

“It has made a big difference to the atmosphere in the office, but we all need to take responsibility for keeping this going.”