Mike Chitty looks at how basic processes typically described as ‘management’ can have a big leadership impact.
We don’t value enough the time where we sit and talk to each other about what drives and motivates us; about what matters to us personally and collectively. We need to teach people that of the hours a week they give to the NHS, a significant percentage ought to be spent on consciously building trust and agreement and building good working relationships.
Hierarchies are still alive and kicking in the NHS. If you’re a doctor and I’m a nurse, what will pattern our relationship is our label; not us connecting as human beings. If we talk about what we’re here to do, now and in the future, our labels can disappear and we can do some interesting work together.
It’s through relationships that we can manage well or lead well. If we work to build trust and a relationship, I’ll be able to lead you better and you’ll be able to lead me better too. If we don’t, we won’t be able to do either.
Trust provides the safety for constructive conflict to be managed that is essential to developing real shared commitments and accountabilities that deliver results.
We’re not always good at taking the time to give feedback in the NHS because we’re so results-focused. Whether given ‘in the moment’ or through planned appraisals, delivering feedback that’s useful and constructive needs to become part of the fabric of a leader’s regular responsibilities. It’s crucial in supporting everyone’s development and performance. Equally important is getting great feedback. Create the conditions where colleagues have the opportunity to – and feel able to – give you feedback about any aspect of your performance at work.
The reason why some people are working 60 hour weeks is because they don’t know how to do their contracted hours and then delegate the work that they cant get done. If we don’t delegate appropriately, we can’t get our jobs done; we then end up recruiting another assistant director, for example, which means we have top heavy organisations and not enough people close to the frontline.
Time and priority management
How can you transform health and care in your 60 hour week if you spend 59 of them maintaining the current operation, one of them looking at the future, and perhaps one day a month at a meeting to look at future strategy? Our practice doesn’t reflect what we say our priorities are – if you want to transform the NHS, spend 59 hours transforming it and one hour maintaining it.