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Motivate your team to embrace change

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Be passionate about your vision to help get your team on board, says Caroline Shaw.

A number of challenges are facing nursing and wider multidisciplinary teams at the moment. Motivating your nursing team to get behind changes and make a difference can be tricky but, as the biggest section of a workforce in most trusts, it’s important to get nurses behind any new mission.

The most important thing is to have a vision and be passionate about it.

When I started as chief executive at The Christie in 2005, I communicated to everyone what my plan was, and it was three very simple things: to get us into financial surplus; become a foundation trust; and cut waiting times to a level that was acceptable for cancer patients.

Everyone knew what I wanted because I communicated it clearly so they could understand what we were all working towards.

Communication really works. I remember walking down a corridor and being stopped by a domestic, who told me that she was keeping the wards and corridors nice and clean so that we didn’t get any infections. That showed me how you can ensure that everyone is on board.

It’s important to adopt different styles of leadership at different stages of development. For example, when I joined The Christie, I was very clear about my vision and that it was what I thought was needed. That was a time for me to take the lead, and a strong lead.

Now, we are developing our 2020 vision, and we are taking a much more consultative approach – I am asking patients, the public and staff what they think we should be doing in 2020. Seven years ago, the organisation needed decisive leadership; now, we are in a position where we can engage all our staff because we are stronger financially, and we’ve reached our targets in terms of waiting times and satisfaction surveys.

It’s very motivating for staff, who work here successfully as a integrated team, to be involved in service development.

But the most important motivational factor of all is being able to thank your staff. I frequently say thank you to my team for working so hard.

We are good at pointing out when things don’t go right, but people don’t say thank you enough. And I think we should. The ability to value each other is lacking in some parts of the NHS. Chief nurses and directors of nursing need to be able to say thank you more often.

To take part in the 2020 vision engagement exercise, log onto by 31 March 2012.

Caroline Shaw is the chief executive of The Christie in Manchester, a post she has held since 2005, and for which she has won several business awards. She has over 25 years’ experience in the NHS, joining as a midwife, and has been working for the Department of Health to take charge of the development of NHS provider services across the North West and also advise on national NHS policy.

Tips for motivating your team through change

● Set out your goals and vision and ensure everyone understands them

● Give people access to you to ensure that they can question you

● Be open to their feedback and prepared to make changes without being defensive

● Be passionate when communicating goals and create a culture of passion in your organisation

● Say thank you when it’s deserved, and make sure you tell team members that they are wonderful.

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