creating a fairer and more inclusive culture

The Aster Way

The Aster Way is not the start of something new, it’s part of our journey to move towards creating a fairer and more inclusive culture – something we’ve been working towards for the last four years.

The Way We Work project marked the beginning of our cultural transformation where we began work around lots of things we see across the business today, including a move towards more flexibility for colleagues and nicer spaces to work in. Then, last year we undertook some work with the Corporate Rebels to begin challenging some of the ways in which we work.

The Aster Way has been developed as the next stage in this journey and takes the Corporate Rebels themes but interprets them in ways which will work for our business. It provides colleagues with clear boundaries around how we’ll all expect to work moving forwards while still giving colleagues the freedom and trust that we know is needed to make us an even more successful business.

It includes several broad themes from supportive leadership, freedom and trust, transparency and talent to networked teams, experimentation and adaptation.

Many of you without even realising it are already bringing to life The Aster Way – from breaking down barriers, having open and honest conversations with each other and putting safety first. The Aster Way is already a big part of the way we already do things here at Aster and we hope it will support our colleagues as we continue our culture change.

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Themes

Have a look in more detail at the themes that make up The Aster Way

  • Purpose and Values

    Our strategy drives everything we do. We’re proud to make a profit from the work we do and invest in our people because we know without these things we couldn’t continue what we do into the long-term.

    What it means

    Understanding our strategy. We are a housing association.We provide a good, safe and reliable landlord service to our customers and build new homes which is helping to solve the nation’s housing crisis. 

    Making a profit. We’re proud to make profits because we know they are reinvested to maintain and upgrade our housing stock, deliver services to our customers and build more new homes. 

    Customer experience. We’re committed to providing a good experience for all of our customers. 

    Doing more. The activities we choose to do outside our core role of a landlord, developer and good employer will be done through the Aster Foundation. These activities will be the ones where there is the greatest need and we have the skills to make the biggest impact for our customers. 

    Focusing on what’s important. We won’t get distracted by things that are interesting but don’t contribute to our strategy. We’ll prioritise what really matters 

    Safety always comes first. We never put anything, including, budgets, before the safety of our colleagues, customers and suppliers. 

    Growing the business: We’ll make decisions on growth that ensure we’re able to continue delivering our services long into the future.

    Investing in colleagues. We’ll continue investing in our colleagues because we know if they have a better day at work, the service our customers receive will be better. 

    Respecting each other. We always communicate with our colleagues, customers and suppliers in a respectful way and show consideration for others and their differences.

    How do I know I’m getting it right?

    Here are some examples:

    -        The decisions I make in my day-to-day work support us to deliver our strategy 

    -        I’m not afraid to invest in myself or my team

    -        I’m comfortable challenging things that don’t support our strategy

    -        I don’t put unnecessary pressure or deadlines on my colleagues

    -        I always put the safety of myself, my colleagues and our customers before budgets

  • Supportive Leadership

    Managers treat everyone fairly and with respect. They create the right conditions to help our colleagues perform to the best of their ability and have a great day at work. They operate across a common set of principles no matter what part of the business they work in.

    What it means

    Sharing our strategy. Managers find ways to help their team understand our strategy and how their work contributes to it.

    Being outcome focussed. Managers are focussed on the end result and look at outcomes rather than inputs. They set the direction and allow their teams to choose how best to get there.

    Understanding our environment. Managersensure they understand performance outcomes in their areas of the business and show interest in how that relates to our wider success. They keep up with changes across the business and in the wider sector.

    Being accountable. Our managersstand by their decisions, actions and the overall delivery of outcomes. They take responsibility for their own behaviour and for engaging with Aster’s strategy.

    Taking learning seriously. Managers are responsible for their own learning and growth and encourage team members to do the same. They are a role model for actively seeking opportunities to increase their knowledge and skills and encourage others to ‘think’ as well as ‘do’.

    Knowing your team. We’re all different and it’s a manager’s role to get to know their team members.  In particular, they take time to understand their strengths and how they can be maximised. They make sure they know what makes a great day at work for each individual. 

    Giving everyone a voice. Good ideas don’t always come from managers.  Ensuring team members have opportunities to speak up and actively encouraging them to contribute to how the team works is a key part of a manager’s role.

    How do I know I’m getting it right?

    Here are some examples:

    -        I don’t expect to have status symbols which mark me out as a leader

    -        I take a broader interest in what’s happening across the business

    -        I welcome regular upward feedback from my colleagues

    -        I’ll always look to support and invest in the colleagues I manage

  • Network of teams

    We are ‘One Aster’. We understand we’re all working towards a common goal and so we’ll continue to work towards a more joined up way of working right across the business.

    What it means

    Breaking down barriers. We don’t think or work in business area silos – where outcomes can be better achieved by working in a more joined up way across teams we make it happen. 

    We’re not territorial. Budgets held in different areas of the business do not prevent us from doing the right thing. We all have shared responsibility for Aster’s success. 

    Broader knowledge. Where work is best placed in a specialist team, we still take an active interest in what’s going on across the business. 

    Valuing expertise. We won’t dilute expertise where it’s needed for a specialist task.

    How do I know I’m getting it right?

    Here are some examples:

    -        I’m comfortable not always working in the same team or with the same colleagues

    -        I understand our budgets are there to do what’s right for the overall business and not just the part I work in

    -        I use the expertise we have across the business to get the best outcome

  • Freedom & Trust / Distributed Authority

    We trust our colleagues to do the right thing. We work as flexibly as we can to provide a good service to our customers and we have clear boundaries that keep us all safe.

    What it means

    Trust is two-way. Colleagues are trusted to make decisions in their day-to-day work to do the right thing. They take responsibility for their actions and are accountable for the outcomes. 

    Doing the right thing. Doing the right thing means making a decision that supports our strategy and The Aster Way, as well as meeting our legal, contractual and regulatory obligations. 

    Keeping us safe. The policies we have in place are those which protect our legal, contractual and regulatory commitments. They provide guidance to support colleagues to do a good job. 

    Flexible approach. We support our colleagues to work when, where and how they choose to do the best job they can. We understand not all roles across Aster have the same level of flexibility, based on their customer commitments. We’ll continue to find new ways of working, which will positively impact colleagues and customers. 

    How do I know I’m getting it right?

    Here are some examples:

    -        I’m free to carry out my role how I see fit but I recognise the responsibility I have

    -        I use the advice principle to make decisions where it may impact others

    -        I understand the policies that affect me carrying out my role

  • Talents and Mastery

    There will be opportunities for everyone, we’ll embrace diversity and will make better use of the many different skills and talents we have across the business.

    What it means

    Role profiles. Everyone will have a clear role profile and understand what’s expected of them. The profile will contain detail on the outcomes expected. 

    Celebrating diversity. We’ll encourage diversity throughout our business and welcome different social, cultural and economic perspectives and experiences. 

    Growing our own talent. Everyone is encouraged to learn and develop. We’ll nurture the talent we have and will enable people to move around the business, where there is a business need. 

    We’ll be fair. We will treat our colleagues and customers fairly.  This doesn’t mean we will treat everyone in the same way, because we recognise everyone is an individual. This means we’ll provide choice and flexibility. 

    Measuring performance. Performance will be measured on outcomes, not inputs and results will be visible. 

    We’ll adapt. Sometimes roles will adapt and evolve, depending on the needs of the business. 

    We look for new opportunities. When we have vacancies, we won’t be restricted by recruiting based on what we’ve always done. 

    How do I know I’m getting it right?

    Here are some examples:

    -        I understand there will be framework around my role but that can evolve because the business and the external environment constantly changes

    -        I appreciate the diversity of our colleagues and customers

    -        I take responsibility for my own learning

    -        I’m not afraid of challenging the status quo and I do this in a positive way

  • Transparency

    We have an ‘ask me anything’ mentality and will make as much information as possible available to everyone.

    What it means

    Being open. We will be open about what’s going well, what isn’t and why certain decisions have been made. 

    Listening to our colleagues and customers. Before big decisions we’ll involve colleagues and customers. They may not be making the decision but their voice being heard is a crucial part of the decision-making process. When we’re being told things are not going well we’ll find out why and do something about it. 

    Taking a sensible approach. We’ll share as much as we can but understand at times there are legal, contractual or commercially sensitive reasons that means we can’t share everything with everyone. 

    How do I know I’m getting it right?

    Here are some examples:

    -        I’m open about what I’m doing and I ask questions of others

    -        I’ll use the information I have appropriately and share it as broadly as I can

    -        I take colleagues and/or customers into consideration when I’m making decisions

     

  • Experiment & Adapt

    We’ll experiment with new and different ways of working – some of them will work and some won’t. We’ll be open about what doesn’t work, learn from our mistakes and move on quickly.

    What it means

    We’ll continue to transform. Our transformation will continue as we adapt to changing business needs and the external environment. This will see our use of technology increase and our culture evolve over the long-term. 

    Innovation will become part of our day job. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make work better. Innovating can just be about making small changes that will have a big impact. 

    We won’t be afraid of failure. When new ideas don’t work we won’t blame colleagues and see it as failure. Instead, we’ll learn from the experience and use that insight to inform our next experiment. 

    How do I know I’m getting it right?

    Here are some examples:

    -        I won’t be afraid to share failures and what I’ve learnt from it

    -        I always look to do things differently if I think they can be done better

Bjorn Howard on The Aster Way

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Corporate Strategy

The Aster Way will help us deliver the vision set out in our corporate strategy

Download the Interactive PDF

You can also see the themes in this interactive PDF on your laptop or desktop computer

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