Leading organisations understand the importance of engaging with staff at all levels, says Anna O’Kane.
The NHS is respected as being one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world. But, in a period of rapid change, competition and budgetary challenge, are there lessons we can learn from the private sector?
The late Steve Jobs, co-founder and chief executive of Apple, said: “It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”
Employee engagement in the private sector is variable, but, when it’s good, it’s great. The top organisations know it’s vital that they engage their staff at all levels.
High street retailers are having a tough time in these austere times. However, one player stands out from the crowd. Customers still flock to John Lewis. Why?
It could be argued it’s because staff are motivated and engaged; they have a strong brand and can be trusted by their customer base.
John Lewis has clear values that staff can be proud of and a clear way of acknowledging the contribution of all staff.
Innovation is also vital if the NHS is to do more with less. Only half of all innovations are initiated at the top of organisations. Maintaining a diversity of staff, and paying attention to the needs and expectations of users and frontline staff are imperative for innovative thinking.
Take an example from Google: “Several years ago, we posted an ideas board on one of our walls at Google headquarters. One day, an engineer went to the board and wrote down the details of a convoluted problem we had with our ads system. A group of Googlers began rewriting the algorithm within hours, and had solved the problem within three days.”
This sounds like common sense. But praise, a sense of openness, an environment that nurtures new ideas and some real recognition for those who do a great job as well as managing those that don’t, can make all the difference to morale, productivity and the patient experience.
Leading organisations in the private and public sector do all these things and more. Bad ones don’t.
Anna O’Kane is programme lead at the East Midlands Leadership Academy. She has a private sector background, most recently working for a company that delivered public sector contracts in the business support arena, helping businesses to grow.
How to borrow ideas from the private sector
- Change the culture of communication. Ignore the views of frontline staff at your peril. Those who are closest to patients will often have the best ideas
- Share and celebrate success. Shout about it. Recognise team and individual performance
- Adopt a meaningful performance management system. Reward achievement and confront underperformance
- Get staff involved in decision making
- An appraisal should be a valuable tool to motivate and engage
- Look at ways you can collect patient feedback to improve the patient experience