Written by Dimensions UK Chief Executive, Steve Scown
As someone who believes firmly in leading by example, I developed my one-page profile some time ago and asked my colleagues to help me. By engaging with them in this way I had to think more deeply than I had before about what I needed from the people around me and about what was really important for me, as opposed to a long nice-to-have list.
At Dimensions we have been working towards becoming a more person-centred organisation for a number of years. As one of the leading not-for-profit providers of care and support services, we have recognised the responsibility upon us not to only provide person centred services for the people with learning disabilities and autism we support, but also to share our learning across our sector and other industries. One-page profiles have proved to be an incredibly powerful tool in helping us fulfil both of these aspirations.
After I had completed my profile, it was posted on our website along with profiles for our executive team and members of our board. I have been struck by the number of companies who have remarked how useful these were in helping them understand how to engage more effectively with us as individuals and as a company. Recently a team of legal advisors bidding for our contract came along to the interview with their own one page profiles as a result of seeing ours on our website.
We have since this initial phase begun to use them right across the business as well as embedding them as a critical tool in how we support people. In short they have become recognisable as part of ‘how things are done in Dimensions’.
In our services they have enabled us to link people with similar interests. After all when being helped to bake a cake, it’s a much nicer to be supported by someone who loves cooking and baking as opposed to someone like me who regularly burns toast and whose passion is rugby.
In addition to their use in services we have more recently strived to get one-page profiles embedded in our business support departments. Visitors to our offices will find a file with the profiles of people who work in that office – this has helped people break the ice when meeting someone for the first time. Attaching links to profiles on our e-mail footers has also helped remotely based staff feel more conformable phoning people they haven’t met who work in our centrally based teams rather sending the usual e-mail query. Many of our business support teams have developed team profiles to help others understand ‘what makes them tick’.
As with most things that require a change in behaviour (individual or corporate) and which brings about material benefits it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Some people have had concerns re sharing personal information. I think the key here has been to help people remember they are in control of the information they share and that the aim is to help people connect more easily with them. In such busy times it’s also easy to see these as a task that once it’s done is done. Our learning has been that they are more effective when they are alive and are updated as we grow and develop as individuals as opposed to something you create once and file away.
I think the introduction and embedding of one page profiles has made a really positive impact upon how we work and our organisational culture . But, I don’t think we’ve finished yet – looking ahead we will continue to think and develop new ways of using them. Already we’re thinking of how we could embed them as a key part of our recruitment process and I can see us asking families to complete a profile so our staff can better understand what is important for them and how we can better connect.
So if you’ve got any ideas on how we can use them or would like to know more about our journey please feel free to leave a comment on this blog or contact us directly.