Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Staff performance fascinates me.

I well remember many years ago working out that 90% of the £1 million annual budget I was responsible for as a Manager in the National Health Service (NHS) was in fact salary of staff.

My simple logic is that managers in that situation have one asset and that is flesh and blood – i.e. their staff. That percentage (90%) is not unusual among budgets in the NHS today. The NHS is very labour intensive. It follows therefore that we need to look after our staff.

I don’t mean that is some patronising way. I just mean that performance of an organisation will only be as good as the performance of its staff.

Therefore we need to keep our staff motivated and allow them to develop both personally and professionally - in that order please!

This is not rocket science – just good simple common sense.

I think the NHS often over complicates staff appraisals systems so they are full of boring paperwork that no-one really likes - and I believe many staff (and indeed managers) become disillusioned with all that stuff.

The best managers in my experience are those who can cut through all that process and paperwork and make one feel good and special about being at work.

There are many issues around accountability in the NHS that encourage what I call CYA ('Cover Your A***) - I will leave you to work that out. It means many staff become fearful that if they do take a risk that does not work, they will be punished.

I happen to believe taking a risk is often how progress is made;

  • The Wright Brothers would never have flown if they had not tried and failed many times.
  • Bill Gates did not achieve at Microsoft what he has without many mistakes on the way.
  • Richard Branson is another that springs to mind
  • Anita Roddick founder of the Body Shop is another – read her book - Body and Soul.

The NHS ‘talks’ about encouraging a ‘no blame culture’ but my feeling is that staff are not convinced about that and need to see that when they make a mistake they are not explicitly punished.

Let me be clear - I am not for one second suggesting we condone bad or negligent practice – but sometimes we have to make mistake to learn. There are many non-critical areas in healthcare where mistakes can be made and patients do not suffer as a result.

Let me be clear again - I would never condone or encourage mistakes in life/death scenarios in health care - most people working in the healthcare are sensible, caring, dedicated professional people with the same anxieties as everyone.

I just think managers and staff must be given ‘permission’ from the top to allow staff to make mistakes in non life threatening situations.


Rocky said...

WOW! Great article Trevor. You really have a feel for what is important in motivating people. As you have stated many times, people are the prime ingredient in any business. You are absolutely right! Evaluations get lost in too much mumbo jumbo and lose the all important reason they are intended for, to find out how we can better do our jobs! You have said many times in your book, Simplicity is the key, get others to do bits of your job, they will often do better. In my opinion that is what evaluations should be, not only giving an evaluation of the employee, but the employer and the organization. I have great respect for your work and for your courage to challenge the staus quo. Great blog, keep it rolling and keep rattling cages.

Trevor Gay said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Rocky

Don't you just get fed up reading those hundreds and hundreds of 'same style' Annual Reports that say words like;

'Our staff are our greatest asset'


Staff are your ONLY asset!!

Thanks for support Rocky - keep rattling cages my friend