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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

The route to chartered membership


Professionalism in housing and continuing to build knowledge, skills and behaviours is an important part of being a housing professional. This Learning at Work Week, we’re celebrating with lots of discussions about training and development, as well as lots of blogs from across the sector about why continuing to learn is exceptionally important. In this blog, Matthew Dicks, CIH Cymru national director tells us his about his journey to chartered membership through the experience professional route.

John F Kennedy once said, "Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other". I can’t think of anything more suitable for the strapline for CIH’s Experienced Professional Route (EPR) to Chartered Membership which I recently successfully navigated – although the COVID-19 lockdown means that I have yet to receive my certificate which I aim to proudly hang on my wall at home.

And I am genuinely proud to have become a Chartered Member of the CIH! I know the value that many housing professionals place in this standard, and rightly so. It was tough but enjoyable experience which more than anything else, made me reflect on what a decent, committed and innovative housing professional should look like.

It’s all too easy to reach a senior management position and think that you can write the textbook on leadership and professionalism – but more than ever, as you become more experienced whilst climbing the career ladder, it is fundamental that you continue to learn from others and continue to ask yourself searching questions about your role and how that interacts with others.

I’m not going to say that the EPR was easy, after all I’m nursing a 46-year-old brain that hasn’t read an academic text book in anger for more than two decades, but it was fascinating to contextualise what I, deep down, probably already understood about myself.

That is, I am impatient, I want to get things done yesterday. In the past, I have had the tendency to take the responsibility of decision-making all onto my own shoulders, rather than including others, consulting and sharing knowledge and learning. Those are clearly traits embedded into my personality through working in newsrooms for a decade or more. For those that haven’t experienced a newsroom, it is a highly individualised and deadline-driven environment where the responsibility to get things right is totally on you as an individual. It creates a very competitive, and to a certain extent, very self-centred environment.

That seems like a very personal and frank analysis of my own character traits but that’s what this course asks you to. You have to explore the theories behind reflective practice and critical thinking and apply them to an analysis of yourself and your own management style and working practices.

It really makes you delve into why you do what you do, recognise what parts of your approach are good, what are bad, and generally reflect on how you can be a better housing professional and leader. Coupled with that, the course also tests your housing knowledge through critical and reflective approaches. Once you have submitted your written assignment, you attend a panel interview with three CIH Chartered Members, where you explore further the arguments and insights you outline in your written submission.

That reflection has changed my approach in many areas and has meant I find more space to reflect on certain actions and decisions that I make in my working life. I believe it has made me a better professional!

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