Future-Proofing Your Career (Part 1)

With such a vastly changing landscape developing across all areas of the housing sector, including the impact of Brexit, immense undersupply of social housing & affordable rented homes, welfare cuts and the many aspects surrounding the homelessness crisis, it is more important than ever those associated with the housing profession, as well as at organisational level, are prepared and adaptable enough to weather and navigate whatever the future may bring to the sector.

The Hackitt Review has done much to highlight regulatory changes needed to improve the structure of the industry, but how do we ensure that we, as individuals, do not get lost in the process, become a victim of change, and instead create the best opportunities to not only make a positive difference to our professional environment, but also excelinnovate and help drive the sector forward?

At Greenacre, we believe passionately in nurturing future industry leaders, and we’re often asked what are the key attributes needed to ensure our candidates are fully prepared to future-proof their careers, and how do they develop the most highly sought after skills in order to thrive and evolve in such a fast-changing, diverse and interconnected industry?

As business is evolving and grow faster than ever before, housing providers will in future need professionals who can not only adapt to change, but be able to demonstrably acquire new skills and have a desire to constantly learn and develop themselves. We are also seeing a sea change in the way organisations interview their candidates and tackle the recruitment process, to identify early on individuals who can demonstrate they are able to ‘think differently’ and bring something new and unique to the organisation, versus the traditional, interviewer-led dialogue that previously would steer the candidate towards a more passive exchange.

The Changing Landscape

Across the board, at operational, structural and service levels, the emergence of digitalisation and technological evolvement cannot be ignored. Not only are professionals now being required to level up their technical knowledge base, we are seeing much more emphasis placed on commercial competency and skills, alongside more dynamic and flexible work models, in order to adapt to more outcomes based, efficiency, data and digital led environments. Housing Associations are already starting to think outside the box when it comes to hiring the best talent, and preference will, in future, be focused on those who are able to balance out the above requirements whilst demonstrating an innovative, creative approach to problem solving and being adaptable to change.

Some questions to consider when contemplating your next, and future, career moves might be:

·        Does your current organisation embrace the new technological changes required to keep up with the rest of the sector?

·        Does it provide opportunities for you to up-skill and gain the experience needed to excel and develop your knowledge base?

·        Do you feel challenged and supported enough in your current role? Does it allow you to innovate and be adaptable?

It is also imperative that you don’t simply wait for the right opportunities to arrive, but actively seek out ways of enhancing your current experience and skills set to bring you up to the next level.

Ethos, Values and Commercialisation

Although commercialisation is, by necessity, being embraced across the sector, collaboration over competition is still key to ensuring the sector as an entity can withstand future financial and technological impact, by blending the arguably harsher attributes of commercialisation with the structural ethos and social values that remain vitally at the industry’s core. Taking secondments to build skills, develop and contribute your own experiences within other teams, utilising and becoming a mentor, and taking part in collaborative projects are all ways in which you can improve and upgrade your existing portfolio whilst making a positive difference, as well as building your network, reputation and personal brand.

The Evolving Leadership Model and Organisational Structure

Successful organisations of the future will be required to adapt to the evolving needs and demands of a more agile, less hierarchical, more results driven and flexible workforce. Dynamic organisations will be seeking out more dynamic individuals, and the shift towards managing people through outputs, behaviour and productivity-measured performance & efficiency will require an ability to lead in a more effectualversatile manner, which values and nurtures individual key strengths whilst supporting and developing individual roles in more autonomous-led ways. Do you have the key leadership skills that will provide your team with the support and development tools to drive the organisation, and sector, to the next level?

Future Proofing Your Goals

Just as it is important to nurture the up and coming talent within our industries and become effective industry leaders, it is also imperative to continually revisit our own career pathway, and if necessary, adapt our journey to reach individual outcomes and ensure we are still on the most beneficial track that is aligning our actions to our goals. Barry Forsythe’s blog Why don’t you have a career strategy? gives some valuable tips on creating and maintaining a successful career pathway as you navigate your way to the top.

In Part 2 we’ll be taking a deeper look into how innovation is changing our leadership, talent acquisition and hiring patterns, as well as how big data is having an impact on housing providers, and how we are acclimatising (or not!) to the new digital age.

If you’ve not yet become a member of a professional housing body or network such as CIH or WISH, there are many benefits to joining that can assist in accelerating your career, developing your network, gaining the latest skills and qualifications, as well as many top talented professionals and industry leaders within the network who currently speak at events, offering the very latest advice on future proofing your career. If you’d like to discuss any of the above issues, would like assistance in developing your career in housing, or are ready for your next step up on the career ladder, please feel free to speak to a member of our team.

Alma Sheren is Head of Marketing and Communications for Greenacre Recruitment, and collaborates with the team and wider network on Leadership, Human Resources, Change Management issues and the challenges and transitions currently facing the UK housing sector.

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