One head of Midwifery and one clinical matron have come to me this week asking for hints and tips about how they can support their staff (Great!) – They reported high sickness rates, clinical errors, high staff turnovers and stressed out staff. I am, as always, sorry to hear this. So I thought I would put together 20 hints and tips which have been proven to reduce mistakes, reduce complaints, reduce sickness and absence rates, improve retention rates, increase innovation and enthusiasm and create positive working cultures where staff are happy to be at work.
I have been on my travels again this week, one leader I met with in particular inspired me to learn more about how every NHS organisation can drive improvement through leading with compassion and actively supporting their staff in the workplace.
Cherry Dale is currently working within Birmingham South Central CCG (@
As I listened to Cherry’s words of wisdom, trying to take it all in…She pointed me to her latest published paper and her transformation journey -> How to get apples, not cactuses: an organisation fit for purpose: Meeting the well being needs of staff and community. By Cherry Dale.
Cherry had a dream to create a “Very different sort of service”…Knowing that performance and well-being were “inextricably” linked, she looked to prioritise mental well being, and was keen to make sure that the needs and resources of staff as well as those using the healthcare services were “at the heart” of the way her organisation worked.
How can we all ensure that this comes to fruition? 20 Hints & Tips:
- Ensure that decision making is shared between all operational staff so that everyone is empowered to “Lead and act upon good ideas”
- Adopt the management style, promoted by the concept of the “Sunao Mind” (Untrapped, calm and highly adaptable)!
- Ensure that there are “No Dark Corners” – Share all knowledge and cascade it throughout, right from the top….This actively promotes ‘no blame cultures’.
- Embrace “Stand up meetings” Where staff are encouraged to share what went well, be down to earth and collaboratively share everything openly (30 mins in length).
- Imagine your organisation as a “Jigsaw” in which everyone holds a vital piece of the puzzle – encourage them to nurture this and take responsibility for it.
- Ensure there are no “Departments”, instead refer to “Natural working areas” so that boundaries are no longer in force and silo working becomes thing of the past.
- Ask “Who has the capacity?” to perform a task and “Who needs help?” – staff may be reluctant at first to share when they are at capacity, but in time the culture can metamorphosise into a supportive and emotionally intelligent culture, where staff are given extra support by colleagues whilst they are stretched to capacity.
- Ensure that staff realise that this is how you want and expect them to behave…You set the tone in communicating “This is how we do things here!”
- Erase the concept of ‘Grades’ or ‘bandings’ – If someone has the talent, motivation and capabilities to do the task…They can and should be empowered to do it! (Follow this with active talent management)
- See leaders as coaches and invest in training… for effective communication, ask coaching questions and avoid simply ‘directing’ people.
- Ban internal emails! – (A scary thought!) – This promotes conversations, movement and positive staff relationships.
- Promote open office spaces where senior staff are situated in the centre to promote open collaborations and discussion.
- Listen with interest and encourage staff to speak openly about concerns.
- Develop a ‘Human resources working group’ with members from each of your natural working areas to develop guidelines, policies and strategies with those at the top.
- Recognise and celebrate achievements, new ideas and acts of kindness.
- When staff are not quite themselves..Snappy…Tearful etc… encourage yourself and others to notice and check it out..”Is there anything you would like to talk about?…Feel free to come over and offload”
- Consider training all staff in the ‘Human Givens approach’…from this develop a staff wellbeing strategy, wellbeing days and events.
- Movable office furniture and bright colours inspire innovation.
- Link with the community and #GetInvolved with local fundraisers, initiatives and activities.
- Take this leap, make these changes and believe in them. Ripples will occur, people will notice…and your #NHS organisation can reap the same rewards.
As some of you will know… I have strong feelings about the term ‘Resilience’…But I do like this model below:
Things to ask your team on a regular basis…
Have you laughed today at work?
Do you have someone you feel you can confide in at work?
Do you feel able to contribute to decision making?
Do you know what is really happening in your organisation?
Do you feel able to influence the direction of travel?
(Discuss your findings and create an action plan in response to results…Monitor progress!)
“Don’t expect apples when you have sown the seeds of a cactus!”
Activity: Making the best of me…
1: Ask yourself how others can get the best out of you
2: Offer what you can realistically do
3: Communicate what inhibits your productivity with others
4: Actively describe what you need from others in order to thrive
A Sunao Mind: Having a sunao (untrapped or open) mind means being tolerant without selfishness, being open to the teachings of others, and being able to find joy in any circumstances. It also means being quiet yet dynamic, dynamic yet quiet. It is a state of mind that leads to the truth.
I hope we can all learn and embrace these lessons within our everyday lives. We know that the mental well being of #NHS staff directly correlates with the quality and safety of patient care…So let’s all create cultures in which we can thrive!
We are all leaders…so let’s all lead the way and leave our foot prints in the sand for those who wish to follow….
Until next time ❤