Honesty is the foundation of any good relationship. It builds trust through transparency; another one of our key values.
However, honesty is not always easy. Sometimes the truth can be uncomfortable. We have found that trying to paint a brighter picture than is actually the case, or not being clear with someone actually leads to much bigger problems down the line than if we’d just had an honest and upfront conversation with colleagues, candidates and commissioners.
We adopt the ‘care enough to challenge’ value as an uncomfortable duty to ensure we are being honest with our key stakeholders at all times. We actually find this allows everyone to air questions before they become concerns or lead to resentment.
Care enough to challenge applies to everyone who engages with our service. It is how we constantly improve our service and our working environment. Care enough to challenge comes from a solid foundation of mutual respect and is done to support our mission of reducing reoffending and making society safer.
Our care enough to challenge relationships will always work both ways and different stakeholders may experience the relationship differently.
We are listening. We work collaboratively with our commissioners in order to deliver success and where improvements are identified, we will always implement agreed suggestions. We are an aspirational organisation and want to grow our service to support as many people as possible. We rely on direct and honest feedback no matter how painful or brutal it may seem. Our work is not just about fulfilling our contractual obligations, but also ensuring that commissioners want to keep supporting our service time and time again.
On the other hand, we need to be just as honest with you. Whilst we are a relatively young organisation, we have found our niche as experts in the employment of people with criminal convictions. This means we may advise on how impactful certain restrictions can be on securing employment, and if there are any equally protective measures that could be applied without impeding on an individual’s chances of employment.
We will likely share our thoughts on the achievability of targeted outcomes too. If we think they are unrealistic, we would offer alternatives including other measurements which might not have been included, such as: increased confidence, becoming work ready, achieving level X qualifications, etc.
Our care enough to challenge value with commissioners is all about building a positive relationship of mutual respect to ensure a sustainable contract, relationship and most importantly, service to our candidates.
We get it; sometimes being overly honest with your employer is not the easiest situation to conceive when you want to tell your manager that the service isn’t working as well as it should, or tell a fellow colleague that you’re worried about them.
We can’t say we will get it right the first few times but we’re completely open to hearing from our colleagues when leadership could do things differently, when you’re concerned about another colleague who doesn’t seem to be doing so well, or perhaps you have some thoughts on how we can improve the service.
Like colleagues, we will always care enough to challenge. We will care enough about our service, and we will care enough about you. If we have to have tough and uncomfortable conversations it will always be done in a private setting and in a respectful manner. We will avoid acting in the heat of the moment.
We need an open and honest two way relationship with our colleagues so that we can improve and represent our service in the best way possible. We are an adaptive organisation which means we can often ‘turn on a dime’ to ensure we are delivering to the highest possible standard. Whilst it may be a bit odd to get used to at the start, we are confident that all colleagues will appreciate this culture in the long-term. Gone are the days of corporate politics.
We care about you, we really do. We care so much about our candidates that we started an organisation dedicated to the employment support of people with criminal convictions. We are experts through experience and many of us have sat across from the JobCentre, National Probation Service, Drugs support services and mental health support services. We get it; we have been there.
We have frustrated the professionals and have been equally frustrated by them at times. We feel a lot of this comes down to the unspoken words between the service and the service user.
It is for this reason that we will care enough to challenge our candidates. If we feel you have a particular barrier to employment that can be addressed, we will discuss it with you sensitively and confidentially so that we can absolutely address it and support you into work, no matter how uncomfortable. An example of Offploy caring enough to challenge is asking candidates if they actually want to secure employment. As we are not your work coach or probation officer, you can answer this question honestly in confidence. If employment is not what you are looking for right now, we will refer you to other great pre-work services and postpone your involvement in our programme. You are always welcome back when you are ready. This will free up a space for another candidate, ensuring we can support as many people as possible.
This is done from a point of care and because we are all dedicated to our mission of reducing reoffending and making society safer.
We value the same level of feedback from our candidates. We are a relatively new service and we will certainly have colleagues gaining experience. Honest feedback on your relationship with our service, including areas that we could improve, are incredibly welcomed. After all, we are doing this because we believe in you.
Caring enough to challenge is not easy, nor is it comfortable. However, as long as we are doing this in a professional and respectful manner, and have the best interests of the service and the individual at heart, then caring enough to challenge is perfectly acceptable within our organisation.
We are proud of what we have learnt and achieved in our four years of service, but we recognise we still have a long way to go until we’re a sector leader in caring enough to challenge. If you have any thoughts on how we could improve the way we care enough to challenge, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read about our other values here.