Five Minutes with Steph Goad, Chief Executive of Golding Homes

6 Mins
Tom Neely

By Tom Neely

In our new edition ‘Five minutes with…’ interview, Founder and Director of Neemar Search, Tom Neely spoke with Steph Goad, Chief Executive at Golding Homes. Steph joined Golding in February 2022 as a first-time Chief Executive. Since February 2022, Steph has taken Golding through a significant change programme. As we partner with Steph and the team at Golding on the recruitment of a new Executive Director of Business Change, we sat down with her to discuss this journey along the organisation’s plans for the future and the type of leader she is looking to bring into her executive team. 

You joined Golding in February 2022 and have since led substantial change within the organisation. What were the key priorities and where has this led?

I joined just as Golding regained its G1 rating after a relentless period of regulatory supervision. The organisation was weary, turnover and sickness were high. But colleagues were looking forward to Golding being in charge of its own destiny again. 

Housing is a service and people business. My strong belief is that happy and engaged colleagues = satisfied customers. The priority was to press re-set, reenergise and re focus colleagues. We were successful – sickness and turnover have halved; colleague engagement increased significantly – we are now knocking on the door of two star in the Best Companies assessment.

Like many housing associations, particularly stock transfers with strong local authority roots, Golding has historically approach change in a piecemeal, tactical way. That means we have too many sticking plasters! The priority now is to stand back and look at a strategic holistic change programme. We’ve spent the last year assessing what needs to change – so this is a great time for a new exec director to be joining the team

From a cultural perspective, how have you driven this positive change across the organisation?

As a medium sized organisation with a relatively tight geographical footprint, visible personal leadership is possible in a way bigger more dispersed providers can’t achieve. It’s not just a cliché, culture does eat strategy for breakfast – and its leadership that sets the culture.

We co-produced with all colleagues the organisation’s behaviour framework – our GOLD standards. I met all of our people managers personally to discuss what great leadership looks like and together we agreed our ROCKSTAR leadership framework (find out more about that in the recruitment pack!). We have subsequently run a leadership programme to embed the behaviours. We have our ‘after party’ next week to review progress and reflect on lessons learnt and how to make further progress!

Modelling behaviour is really important to me. I take customer calls every quarter. I do look at complaints. This gives me real insight into customer experience on the ground – the good and the bad – in a way that kpi reports never can. Working with me applicants should expect to be strategic but also get into the real operational detail – even at the top table, you need both

As you move the organisation forward, what are some of the key strategic priorities for Golding?

With so much change for the sector, the challenge is to keep focus. We have been working hard on our operational services to do the basics brilliantly. We have made progress but there is still more to do.

We have a great opportunity to grasp the localism and customer engagement agendas and are developing a new neighbourhood model. To be really effective we need to support that with a refreshed IT roadmap and how we use data. We also need to continue to reduce costs and improve value for money so we can invest in the services that make most impact.

Another key priority is delivering an ambitious programme of investment in our homes and a major regeneration programme in Maidstone.

As we move forward into 2024, what do you see as the biggest opportunity for the sector to embrace?

I moved into housing 6 years ago following many years in local authorities because it was clear that housing was such an important determinant in wider quality of life, health, education and employment outcomes. The sector is under a lot of pressure, but let’s never forget the life transforming opportunity we have at individual and community levels.

And with this being said, what do you see as the key challenges for the sector and how are you addressing these?

The sector’s reputation has taken a hit with ITN coverage, the tragic death of Awaab Ishak in Rochdale, the increased intervention of the HOS driving increasing expectations. New consumer regulation will only increase that pressure. The financial challenges remain on both income and costs.

Our response is to focus on what we are best placed to do –and do it consistently well. Lever the potential of technology to help colleagues to be the best versions of themselves, and for customers to self serve for simple high volume transactions. Target our resources and personalise our services for those who need them most. Work with partners so in their areas of expertise they provide the services that customers need

We are partnered with you to recruit your new Executive Director of Business Change – could you explain in more detail the scope of the role?

This role will lead all of our ‘change agent’ services – people and culture, communications, business improvement, technology and data. Delivering change is of course the shared responsibility of the whole Executive Team, but this role will be our transformation and change management specialist to help us deliver sustainable change

How will this role play a part in the key strategic priorities for the organisation?

This is a pivotal role. We have an ambitious and challenging agenda for change. We need to find the sweet spot bringing together systems and process change, better use of data and customer insight, whilst crucially continuing to develop our customer focussed one team culture. This role will help set the conditions for successful delivery of our transformation ambitions.

What are the key traits you are looking for in your new Executive Director of Business Change? 

Curiosity, creativity, drive and energy. Great interpersonal and leadership skills. A real team player. The ability to demystify change and make it real for our colleagues so change sticks on the ground. Obsessive customer focus. A passion for social housing and making a difference

Do you have any advice for candidates interested in applying for this role with Golding?

Be yourself. Immerse yourself in the process – a cultural fit for you and for us is crucial.

Give real tangible examples of your achievements so together we can explore how you will approach and succeed in the role.

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