I met with a friend, Andy, at the beginning of September. I’ve known Andy ever since he came as a “temp” to work in my HR department one summer. He’s a bright cookie and after leaving university he worked hard and is now an established HR manager in a good NHS Trust.
Andy was nervous, yet excited, when he informed me that a few weeks previously he had been asked to lead the HR elements of the cost savings programme within his Trust. He told me about how fast the project was developing and
“any day now we’ll be starting the consultation with staff”.
I sagely responded that it was almost certainly too late to make cost-savings in year. Then with my “techie” hat on I starting telling him about some of the obscure NHS financial regulations that HR professionals need to be mindful of when managing large scale down-sizing projects.
Almost like an enthusiastic puppy, Andy took notes as he reassured me that it was “full steam ahead”. At one point, I sat back and warned Andy that
“This is the NHS, no major change happens that quickly”.
So it wasn’t a surprise when Andy called me today. He’s feeling frustated because the consultation still hasn’t commenced, and the Exec team still haven’t decided on some of the key details of the road map. He’s also worried about any negative comments about HR that might arise from the current delays. I didn’t have to say anything…but I had forewarned this.
What is happening to Andy is not unusual for an HR professional working in the NHS. Those of us who are passionate about delivering high quality HR advice are ready to respond to the challenge of making things happen quickly. But more often than not barriers are put in our way.
There’s always those who want to avoid the obvious conflict that arises out of making people redundant; there are those who are risk-adverse and so want to avoid any Employment Tribunal; and there are those who are just not very good at making decisions.
I see it as our role in HR to effectively influence and negotiate through these brick walls. And determining the speed of change is within our gift. We just have to have more belief in ourselves.