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Care for the parts, power the whole

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Supporting and empowering individual employees will strengthen the whole team

There are simple ways to manage your team more effectively. They don’t have to need more time or money, and most you can start right away.
»Make time for positive reinforcement. Say “Thank you”, “tough shift, thanks for your support” and so on. If you have time, say “well done”, ask what positives staff will take from today or what are they most pleased about. This lets them reflect on their sense of achievement and gives you the chance to say well done. We automatically focus on the negative, the one thing we could have done better - let staff leave focusing on the thing they did well and that they had the chance to share it with you.
»Be consistent. You will need to speak to staff and have potentially difficult or challenging conversations. Act when this is needed, taking an honest and open approach. Be consistent so expectations are clear to all.

Tips on how to manage staff more effectively

● Celebrate your staff’s achievements and thank them for the work they do
● Be consistent in how you deal with staff so they all know what to expect
● Work with staff to help them find the solutions to difficult situations
● Keep things in perspective and be the voice of reason
● Know which stakeholders and services staff should approach for help
● Understand metrics and make sure they are used
● Lead by example

»Have time to listen and support your employees to find the way forward. You must be available for your staff. If your workload restricts this, allow for a minimum period of time in the week when you will be contactable and make sure staff know that. This reinforces that they are important; often knowing this time is available if they need it is enough.
»Manage the person not their issue. Work with them to help them find a way forward. What impact is this having? What could you do about it? What will you do? Don’t take problems from staff; build their resilience by empowering them to find the solution.
»Keep things in perspective. We all have days when things seem to be against us. Being the voice of reason can stop concerns escalating. Be ready to ask staff what alternative perspective could there be. What is their perception based on? What do they want to do to move forward?
»What is in your manager’s toolbox? You won’t have all the answers but you can know your key stakeholders and who staff can approach to assist them - for example, human resources and occupational health.
Could this be developed with colleagues?
»Make metrics your friend. Metrics (which are just measurement units, such as how many hospital-acquired pressure ulcers there are) help you understand what is going on but are only useful if something is done with them. Keyquestions are: what impact does this metric have on staff or care? Do I need to talk to my staff about this metric so I can understand its impact?
»Walk the talk. Lead by example. Create a culture of openness and engagement.

Jennifer Gardner is programme lead for health work and wellbeing at NHS Employers. She has worked in the NHS for over 10 years, most recently as lead for sickness absence and health and wellbeing at York Teaching Hospitals FT

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