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LEADERSHIP ACADEMY

What can the NHS learn from the private sector?

  • 11 Comments

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

 

  • 11 Comments

Readers' comments (11)

  • Quote
    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?
    Unquote.

    Here we go again, the buzzwords; budgetary challenge and competition are coming to the fore...
    The NHS neither is nor was designed or set up to make a profit. That is until Thatcher, her flawed logic and accountant buddies invented the 'internal market' utopia.

    Why does or should a health service which is free at source to all, regardless of wealth, have budgetary constraints? Our patients are quite often admitted with multiple conditions which may require multiple treatments, all of which they used to receive under the pre Thatcher NHS. Because prior to Thatcher's ill conceived 'Care in the Community' scheme, the same treatment was available anywhere to everyone...

    We all aware there has now developed a ‘Treatment by postcode NHS’, where treatment freely available in London is often denied in the ‘Provincial’ areas of our country’.

    Are we then saying we will treat the patient’s presenting medical condition which is perhaps the cheapest to control or cure, but deny him the drugs for the medical emergency which may save his life, if he lives in the wrong post code area?

    Unless of course, he’s wealthy enough to afford to go private.... Or is this the ‘Competitive’ part of the equation... where our patients can afford to live?

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  • I would suggest the NHS could learn about more effective Human Resources' procedures, so staff who cannot meet the requirements of their jobs are moved to areas where they can work, or be removed. Also the provision of basic essentials such as paper for printing might be quite useful!

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  • "...staff who cannot meet the requirements of their jobs are moved to areas where they can work, or be removed."

    many of these staff are already being asked to meet requirements of their jobs which are not humanly possible and then being penalised and blamed for it. Many staff who point this out are then further blamed and told it is up to them to manage their time better or leave.
    Many are dedicated to their patients and wish to protect their safety and offer them the highest standards of care which they have been trained for but do not have the resources or the support for this. Those who complain about the situation are labelled troublemakers and have their lives made impossible for them to provide good care which can have very damaging effects on their physical and mental health.

    there are many reasons why staff may be unable to meet the requirements of their job besides their own competence, many of which are organisational, managerial or organisation cultural issues outside their control.

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  • tinkerbell

    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.”

    I hope Steve Jobs (RIP) is being quoted in the context of a quote he made about the NHS and not the general business model, otherwise it is wrong to quote him when he isn't around to reply.

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  • I don't understand the '...how much you get it.' bit.


    Get what? what is he referring to?

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  • tinkerbell

    This article has been written by the 'Leardership Academy'.

    There's something there isn't there? Just haven't quite pinpointed their agenda as would need to see some more articles published by them to gather more evidence that they may agree with the privatisation of the NHS.

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  • “Older people sit down and ask, 'What is it?' but the boy asks, 'What can I do with it?'.”
    Steve Jobs

    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/steve_jobs_3.html#fEmR5Qkd8RRJ7ftx.99


    The quote above was incomplete and taken out of context so no wonder some of us didn’t get it!


    “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R amp&; D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R & D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.”
    Steve Jobs
    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/steve_jobs_3.html#fEmR5Qkd8RRJ7ftx.99


    Maybe Vin Jones got it?
    It’s About People: How to Tell if You “Get It”
    August 25, 2011


    http://vinjones.com/its-about-people-how-to-tell-if-you-get-it/





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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 14-Sep-2012 7:34 pm

    I only had a hunch but well done you for finding this so quickly, see how they have distorted the facts to fit nicely into their privatisation agenda.

    Shameful really to use a quote out of context from someone who has passed away.

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  • tinkerbell | 14-Sep-2012 8:28 pm

    bending it to their own needs but maybe we all do this at times, even if unwittingly or unintentionally.

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  • Anna O'Kane
    Nice of you to use John Lewis as an example. Isn't this a company that is owned by its employees, a co-operative?
    Is that the reason for their success?
    What are these businessess that you help to grow? Would it be your own? Makes my blood boil when MY tax money is used to employ private companies to provide a government service. These private companies give crap pay and working conditions whilst their owners reap the rewards for what is generally substandard service. See G4S/ATOS/Network Rail for recent examples.
    WAKE UP BRITAIN, WE'RE GOING BACK TO THE 1800's

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