A core value of Offploy’s organisation is that we ‘take absolute responsibility’. We have a strong learning culture within our team, and we can always accept where something could have been better. We appreciate that it is sometimes challenging to hear feedback on how we can improve, especially when so much passion and effort goes into the work we do.
However, anything that could guide us towards providing our candidates with a better service is definitely worth doing. This value goes hand in hand with our ‘care enough to confront’ value, which means that we put the needs of the service and the individuals we support at the forefront of our minds when delivering and responding to feedback.
One of the first steps in understanding the fact that we take absolute responsibility, is knowing that this is not an admission of failure or defeat; it is merely an opportunity to grow and develop. Occasionally, however, things do not always work out the way we planned. A key task may have been completed incorrectly, or we may have accidentally forgotten to update a candidate’s CV ahead of their appointment. As we hold high standards for ourselves in Offploy, we do know that this is not the way to deliver a high level of service.
However, as long as we learn from our mistakes, and take absolute responsibility for our actions, we can ensure this doesn’t happen again.
Feedback from key stakeholders is crucial for our organisation to enable us to take responsibility for our performance, whether that is positive or negative, so that we can work together to develop a service that delivers on its mission to place people with convictions into meaningful, mentored and sustainable employment.
However, taking absolute responsibility is not enough if we want to deliver an exceptional service. We must take all of the learning that has taken place from the reflection, observation and feedback, and decide how we will adapt as a result. Therefore, Offploy has a robust Quality Management System in place to ensure that we are operating on a cycle of ‘observe, learn, develop’ at all times. We will not stop until our service is the best it possibly can be, and this would not be possible without constructive feedback and ownership of our actions.
Commissioners When Offploy are commissioned to deliver a service, it is common practice for leaders within Offploy to attend review meetings with the commissioner. During these meetings, outcomes and quality of service is discussed, often in great depth. The commissioner will have the opportunity to share with Offploy their views on how they feel the project is going, including any areas for development. It is important that Offploy as an organisation accepts this information in a professional manner, and takes absolute responsibility for the feedback. Rather than suggesting where it could have been the fault of the commissioner for any negative feedback, it is much more productive and professional for Offploy to humbly receive the information and demonstrate that they have the ability to learn and adapt on the spot. However, Offploy must also abide by the ‘transparency is key’ value, which involves being honest and clear wherever possible. If Offploy feels that they have a solution that would enable our organisation and the commissioner to work better together, or adjust the outcomes to be more realistic, then a conversation about this is perfectly acceptable. Additionally, when a commissioner delivers feedback involving improvements to our service delivery, we will demonstrate how we will not only accept responsibility, but we will act on the feedback immediately. It is useful to clearly explain how and when we aim to make these improvements to the commissioner. Furthermore, once the improvements have been made, and we can evidence this, it is important to also share this with the commissioner.
Of course, Offploy does not always receive feedback on how to improve our services. Quite often, we receive extremely positive feedback about all of the great work we are doing. Therefore, we should take absolute responsibility as a team that we have worked in partnership with the commissioner to make the project a success. This should be, where appropriate, celebrated publicly through evaluation reporting and sharing the good news via Offploy’s social media accounts.
Colleagues The colleagues who deliver Offploy’s services are all encouraged to take absolute responsibility for their professional performance. Therefore, when working with candidates, all colleagues are responsible for the planning and preparation involved in delivering 1:1 or group sessions. All colleagues should take pride in their work, and reflect on a regular basis to ensure they are constantly learning and developing their practice.
Occasionally, a colleague may receive feedback on how they could improve within their role. As previously noted, it is important to mention that this is not an exercise which aims to shatter people’s confidence; it is purely to ensure we are doing the very best we can to support our candidates. Therefore, line managers and colleagues should always be respectful and professional when delivering this feedback. Equally, Offploy asks that colleagues accept advice for improvement, and take ownership of any instances whereby they could have done something differently.
During team meetings, colleagues always have a section of the agenda titled ‘even better if…’ - this is an opportunity for colleagues to discuss how our services could be made even better. Occasionally, we may be having some teething issues in our delivery, however, Offploy encourages colleagues to come up with a clear solution if they have noticed something that is not working quite as well as it should.
A key thing to note is that Offploy does not have a ‘blame culture’. For example, if a deadline is missed, or if key paperwork is not up to date, there may be a range of reasons as to why this has happened. However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the colleague to ensure this gets done, or at least communicates with their line manager if they are unable to get this done. It would be classed as going against our value of taking absolute responsibility if no ownership was taken by the colleague, and blame was placed on external processes or team members.
Finally, it is commonplace for a colleague to receive positive feedback from candidates, fellow colleagues and commissioners regarding their service delivery. This is the perfect opportunity for the colleague to take absolute responsibility, and tell themselves “well done” for all of the hard work they do. One way Offploy likes to celebrate colleague achievement is through the ‘wonderwall’. This is a section of our weekly team meetings, whereby colleagues can nominate someone for working hard or supporting others in the workplace. Hard work and dedication should never go unnoticed!
Candidates Some of the candidates we work with are the best embodiment of the value ‘take absolute responsibility’. Despite their criminal offence and background, some of the individuals on our programme take absolute responsibility for their actions that led to their offence. They do not blame others; they accept that they could have done things differently. They also do not use this to punish themselves; they use it to explain how they have moved on from the past, and how they would like to work towards a more positive future.
Offploy supports candidates to take responsibility for their actions, specifically criminal offences, when they are disclosing their offence to a potential employer. We train candidates in humbly disclosing their offence in a way that demonstrates their acceptance of what has happened, what their personal circumstances were at the time of the offence, how they feel about it now, and what their aspirations are for the future. We believe that this is the best approach for candidates to take when disclosing their offence, as they are taking absolute responsibility, and also demonstrating how they will act on what has happened to improve their future.
Overall 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 taking absolute responsibility. If you have any thoughts on how we could improve our ability to take absolute responsibility, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read about our other values here.