With the final quarter of the year about to begin, January 1st will be here before we all know it and you and your agency will be on yet another trip around the sun.
According to Inc. Magazine there are only 60 productive workdays between Labor Day and the end of the year. So, while there is a strong tendency to almost write off the 4th quarter, PHAs have the chance to turn this chunk of the calendar into a viable and vibrant time of year for productivity.
Let’s take a closer look at how this can be done.
Performing an Agency Assessment
This doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice, does it? After all, an agency assessment is a big undertaking and has the potential to create even more work. But just hear us out…
What better time to get everything out in the open? We have all heard the phrase “New year, new you.” Well, a new year is right around the corner, and you have the opportunity to give your agency a fresh start. Don’t just let the “current of never-ending chaos” pull you along. Take intentional action to ensure that you go into the 1st of the year informed and ready to take intentional steps to advance your agency.
Doing an agency assessment includes taking a look at performance, staffing, and training needs and then creating an informed plan. It will helps you identify potential roadblocks and recognize areas of high proficiency in our PHA so we can be sure utilize our talent in the best possible way.
The best tool we have at our disposal to inform ourselves is the Public Housing Information System (PIC). This information can be an unbelievably valuable resource, however it continues to be one of the most under-utilized resources among PHAs.
PIC reports have an abundance of information. They can show how often your agency performs each task and helps to track operational trends, such as increases or decreases in certain procedures at certain times of the year. These reports can inform you of where your agency is experiencing delays, give you a picture of how your agency is performing certain procedures, and point out any inefficiencies that may cause delays down the line.
Once you have gathered this information, use it to formulate a plan to address your specific areas of concern and get ahead of potential problems.
Your agency has the potential to be an efficient and shining example in the community and a performance assessment is just the first step to making that a reality.
It’s a perfect time to assess your staffing needs, as well. Based on the performance assessment above and the plan you put together, you should be able to make a more informed determination on whether your PHA is adequately staffed. A big question for your PHA is, “Which areas of your agency need reinforcement?”
If you determine your agency is not adequately staffed, then it’s important to create a realistic outlook on what’s necessary to either become properly staffed and/or accomplish your goals with your current employees.
Begin with your budget to see if you have room to increase staff levels. Are there areas of the budget where you can cut unnecessary costs? Are there ways to consolidate operational duties to free up current staff for new roles? Are there grants you can pursue in order to help fund new staff?
If hiring new staff is just not a possibility, don’t give up. Let’s adjust our expectations to meet the reality of what our PHA can do?
While setting challenging goals does help our teams to perform at higher levels, all the worthwhile and lofty goals in the world won’t matter if we can’t pull any of them off. There is nothing wrong with being realistic and setting smaller and more achievable goals. (S.M.A.R.T. Goals) In fact, your team will thank you for the morale boost when they are able to check some of those items off the list.
Flexibility and creativity in this area is the key to success.
Training and Education
Maybe even more important than being appropriately staffed for a PHA is having a fully trained staff. This time of year is the perfect time to plan out any additional training your team might need. Your agency assessment will make it easy for you to identify any areas where continued education would help to advance your agency’s operations.
This is an area where you should definitely set challenging goals for the team and don’t be afraid to raise the bar. While you might not always be able to accomplish everything on your list, anything you do accomplish should be done with the highest quality and care. Make extensive training and continued education a priority.
Prepare to Succeed
Above all, conducting an agency assessment prepares you and your agency for success. Instead of writing off the 4th quarter of the year, put this time of the year to good use to strategically plan and prioritize what you need to do to succeed starting in the 1st quarter of next year.
Use this time to elevate your staff, tie up loose ends, and create an organized and well-informed plan so when your agency starts back up in the new year, you and your team can hit the ground running.