Kim Manley, a nurse and a specialist in practice development, gives us her thoughts on what makes the best workplace, and shares her advice on how to reap the best quality of care.
Kim Manley CBE has spent much of her career helping others flourish. “I’ve always been passionate about enabling people to grow,” she explains. So, it is no wonder that nursing appealed to ms Manley; however, not instantly.
After applying for medical school and attempting to study biology, Ms Manley still felt like she hadn’t quite found the place where she belonged, until she found nursing.
”Biology was so much science without the personal relationships,” she says. “But, eventually I found nursing and it gave me both.”
Currently working as a joint clinical professor in practice development, research and innovation between East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust and the England Centre for Practice Development hosted at Canterbury Christ Church University, Ms Manley relishes the variety of her daily schedule, with its one constant being personal connection and collaboration.
“The research I do isn’t ‘ivory tower research’, it’s ‘swampy lowlands research’”
“The thing I like the most about my job is the variety,” Ms Manley notes. “One day I might be facilitating a programme with leadership staff. Other days I might be writing papers for publication with colleagues. But most of my days are working with people.”
Ms Manley’s current position also allows her to focus on her research, which converges on personal development within workplace cultures. “The research I do isn’t ‘ivory tower research’, it’s ‘swampy lowlands research’,” she says. “I work with people on the ground level and try to help them. It’s research that you can implement as you go along.”
“Effective workplace culture is one where everyone is flourishing”
Throughout her many years as both an academic and a clinical practitioner, Ms Manley has toiled to understand the circumstances in which organisations – and the individuals within them – can blossom. One of the many crystallisations from Ms Manley’s extensive and widely published work has been an image of a highly effective workplace.
“Effective workplace culture is one where everyone is flourishing,” she explains. “If the staff is flourishing, the patients and families will be flourishing as well.”
Ms Manley notes that this workplace culture is dependent on person-centered leadership and care. “Being person-centered, not just with the patients, but with each other, is vital,” Ms Manley explains. “Knowing the person or patient that you are working with or caring for is important. It makes the care better, and it can improve life goals, career goals, and quality goals.”
“They need a good mentor to give them high support and highly challenge them”
Reflecting on the most rewarding moments throughout her career, Ms Manley conjures memories of teams working together, pushing, and supporting each other. “The common thing between the great moments is being with people who are working for the same purpose, and not for individual gain,” she says. “These are the best moments. With these people you can do anything.”
Ms Manley reflects fondly on the moments in which she and her colleagues feel invincible, perhaps due to an effective, person-centered workplace culture. Ms Manley truly practises what she preaches. In fact, her advice for new nurses runs in tandem with her own goals for her career and her workplace. “[New nurses] need to be really clear about their values and where they are going. They need a good mentor to give them high support and highly challenge them. One can’t push the boundaries without support,” she explains.
Ms Manley recognises the importance of having a team that is both supportive and challenging, and as result she has no qualms with pushing boundaries.
In fact, she feels the strongest when she is the most exposed, saying what has yet to be said. “I’m always willing to make myself feel vulnerable. That’s when I feel bravest,” she says. ”I don’t expect to be right. Even if you have to be the first person to put your idea out there, at least you have put your ideas out there. It starts the ball rolling.”