“When you invest in people and lift them to their full potential, they will love you for it.” – Jim Rohn
It’s easy to view business interactions through the lens of transactions and numbers, and unfortunately for PHAs and many affordable housing programs, tenants feel it has become the norm to be treated more like a number and less like a person.
Reputation matters. According to Nielsen Media Data, 92% of people trust the suggestions of their family and friends over advertising, and 88% trust online reviews as much as recommendations from those they know.
With numbers like these, it’s easy to see how even one bad experience can have a profound impact on how organizations are viewed. However, when we invest our time and resources into what really matters, we can reverse those negative effects and see big payoffs.
Fortunately for us, there are some great ways we can be intentional about investing our time and resources into what really matters…. People
Creating an Inviting Environment
The first step is to create an inviting environment for our people. Whether it is employees, participating families and landlords, or community partners, they all need to know they are welcome.
We have all operated in environments where we felt uncomfortable and like a nuisance. That type of atmosphere always stifles connection, relationship, and freedom of thought…all of which are the nemesis to what we are trying to achieve.
Focusing on providing exceptional customer service, having open-door policies, providing easy access channels to information that solves problems, and offering regular continuous education are just a few ways to create an inviting environment.
If we want to take this to the next level, we can do things like offering our employees creative leeway wherever possible. Whether it is allowing a change in workspace décor or creating a calendar of fun workplace events, implementing these changes can have a big impact on how our employees feel about their work.
In our communities, hosting open houses for people to come in and ask questions, meet the staff, and obtain the information they need, is a great way to tell people that we care about them and want them there.
Client feedback is one of the most useful tools for enlightening ourselves about the realities of how we are doing and how our participants feel about their experience with us. When done correctly, we can learn valuable information on the areas we need to improve and where we are seeing success.
This can be easily achieved by implementing a few simple ideas such as feedback surveys and follow-up calls and then compiling the gathered data to see what people have to say about their interactions with us.
To go one step further, focus groups and round-table discussions are a creative solution that sets you apart from others. These are some of the most popular methods for providing the facilitator with a wealth of information.
On the flip side, it provides an avenue for the participants to feel like they have a voice. This, in turn, creates powerful ambassadors for your program, and that is something we can all use more of.
Reach and Connect
If we want to be relevant and create a steady stream of new opportunities, we need to make sure we’re visible. It’s not enough to just sit and wait for people to come to us. As a PHA or any federally funded program, we can still present ourselves to our communities with efforts in external communications and community outreach.
A few simple ways to do this would be to be present and active in community events. Consider sponsoring local organizations and setting up tables or booths with resources and information your community can use.
Be a Comma Not a Period
One of the drawbacks of being a federally funded program is that it really does feel like it is all about the numbers. We need to have a certain number of participants in order to continue receiving funding. And when we are out of funding, the only thing we can do is maintain what we already have. We have to turn people away and are unable to provide assistance to those outside our programs. Everything comes to a stop…or so it seems.
What if we decided to look at these periods as opportunities for service instead of just waiting for the next round of funding to come in?
What if we were able to be a lighthouse of resources for those struggling in our communities?
How would we do that?
We’d compile comprehensive lists of all the available community resources in our cities. Food banks, clothing banks, employment assistance, non-profit programs, job fairs, etc. just to name a few of the possibilities. Providing this service could prove to be invaluable!
Before, people would be turned away and many times lose hope. We can continue helping people move forward and overcome their hardships by pointing them in a new direction and arming them with new opportunities.
Investing in what really matters is not always about spending money to make money. It is about correcting our vision to see what matters most and then doing what we can to make sure we are a part of it.
When we invest in what really matters, we have the potential to see returns greater than ever before. When that happens, everyone wins.