Saturday, 7 November 2009

How to report performance to tenants


It might sound geeky, but in my role, one of my favourite tasks is reporting performance to tenants. This is not because I'm mad about numbers or statistics, but because it brings together the three strands that I think should drive social housing: resident involvement, continuous improvement and communications.

What to report?

The Housing Corporation used to issue a code of performance that needed to be reported to tenants, but since the advent of the Tenant Services Authority, no specific guidance has been in place. Instead the regulators look for clear and honest performance reporting but delegate freedom on the specific elements to the social landlord. At Orbit East, we've made a commitment to tenants that we would report on our service standards. These standards are our promise to tenants of how we will serve them.

How?

It's important that performance information can be clearly understood. Tenants haven't got time to spend poring over figures and graphs. Traffic lights, smiley faces, colours and arrows are all simple ways to communicate performance. Sometimes a pie chart can communicate the information visually much easier than text.

Wherever possible it is also useful to include a benchmark - the standard that the best landlords are meeting - and the previous year or quarter's performance, so the tenant can see the trend.

I use the tenants' newsletter to report performance annually, but depending on your organisation's needs and your customer base, you could use your website, a dedicated publication or a letter quarterly or even monthly. I think it's also crucial to include commentary, to explain the results and most importantly, how the organisation will improve its performance moving forward.

Here's the most recent performance document I produced. I'd welcome anyone's (particularly from tenants) comments on how it could be improved.

Thanks to John Marchan for the use of his traffic lights image.

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