Wardipedia – 40. Senior managers

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From board to ward


A recurrent theme in Wardipedia is the importance of staff seeing things from patients’ perspectives. The same equally applies to senior managers and their staff teams. The only way to get a strong grasp on what it’s like to be a patient, member of staff or visitor on the ward, is to be on the ward. In addition to the much deeper understanding that comes from being present on the wards, it can be a huge boost for staff to have this level of interest shown in their work. And the more explicitly appreciative senior managers can be about staff’s skills and dedication, the huger the boost.

As Fred Lee puts it in If Disney Ran Your Hospital:
“In my experience with attempts to improve the interpersonal skills of the staff at hospitals, those who demonstrate outstanding performances day in and day out, rarely get praised for it. We like to single out those who did something “above and beyond” to please a guest, but we often take for granted the consistent repetition of desired behaviours by dependable performers. Like great actors they make it look easy every day of the week.”

See also Ideas #34 Culture of appreciation, #35 Bring yourself to work and #36 Role flexibility.

We enthuse about Henry Stewart and his Happy company in 34 Culture of Appreciation, so we’ll just put a link to that here and proceed with:

The Happy Manifesto: 10 Steps to a Great Workplace

1.  Trust Your People

Step out of approval. Instead pre-approve and focus on supporting your people.

2.   Make Your People Feel Good

Make this the focus of management

3.  Give Freedom within Clear Guidelines

People want to know what is expected of them. But they want freedom to find the best way to achieve their goals.4.

4. Be Open and Transparent

More information means people can take responsibility and ownership.

5.  Recruit for Attitude, Train for Skill

Instead of qualifications and experience, recruit on attitude and potential ability.

6.  Celebrate Mistakes

Create a truly no-blame culture, to enable people to innovate without fear.

7.  Community: Create Mutual Benefit

Have a positive impact on the world and build your organisation too.

8.  Love Work, Get a Life
The world, and your job, needs you well rested, well nourished and well supported.

9.  Select Managers Who are Good at Managing
Make sure your people are supported by somebody who is good at doing that, and find other routes for those whose strengths are elsewhere. Even better, allow people to choose their managers.

10.  Play to Your Strengths
Make sure your people spend most of their time doing what they are best at.

Find out more: Download The Happy Manifesto for free at www.happy.co.uk/about/free-publications

Ward examples

  • The chief executive runs one of their hospital book clubs.
  • The very Modern Matron runs a fabulous weekly Prepare and Share evening meal. (See also #35 BYTWD)
  • The Modern Matron visits patients a fortnight after they have returned home.
  • Managers have an open door policy if patients wish to see them
  • The Modern Matron facilitates patients’ breakfast each morning.
  • There are signs up in the hospital about monthly meetings with the modern matron, and PALS co-ordinator. And nice posters with a photo of the modern matron, explaining his role.
  • A growing number of hospitals have social groups consisting of both patients and staff, such as choirs, rock bands, book clubs and football teams. We gather that senior managers can be the vital drummer or goalie in these crews.
  • Each year this hospital puts on an incredible Christmas extravaganza. Staff and patients throw themselves into costumes, carols and elaborate ward decoration competitions.
  • The chief executive works shifts with staff groups ranging from domestics to healthcare assistants.
  • The chief executive and the Director of Nursing each work a shift a week on the wards.
  • Following an invitation from ward staff , the chief executive, enjoyed working a morning shift on the ward to find out more about the demands faced by ward staff.  He worked as a nurse on acute admission wards earlier in his career, and the shift back on the ward reminded him of some of the joys as well as the challenges of the work.
  • Each ward sister has a Trust board mentor, generally see monthly. Chief executive is also a mentor. Get different perspective, from government, through strategic health authority. Board now getting much more immediate feedback about patient experience. Looking at accreditation with RCN.
  • Some wards involved with the excellent Productive Mental Health Ward initiative have found that senior managers spend time on the wards as part of their commitment to the process.


Categories: Generosity, Wardipedia