I’ve written before about my journey, and how after 10 years I was a jaded NHS senior manager. I tried and failed to be made redundant (how ironic in today’s climate). Instead, I resigned and went free-lance. I haven’t looked back since.
Over the last few years I have worked with a range of NHS organisations. My blog has related my frustrations with NHS bureaucracy, and my dispair of disengaged HR staff who deliver poor service.
About 8 months ago I heard of an opportunity at Kings College Hospital, London. I was keen to get inside this high-profile organisation, who are known for being leaders in their field, including their approach to workforce intiatives and their “can-do” attitude.
However the timing was off, and so I couldn’t throw my hat in the ring. A couple of months later I got another call and I was subsequently successful in being offered the opportunity to work a number of challenging and rewarding projects.
My first impressions are still vivid in my mind. Whatever stone I unturned, there was a reasoned, well-thought through approach or response to how or why things were done in that particular way. I wasn’t just looking at good practice – but excellent practice.
I’m used to working with HR teams on their journey to improve their performance, moving them from mediocre to average. But at Kings, I was faced with a different challenge. I was out of my comfort zone, and I liked it.
The most striking aspect of the Workforce Directorate is their attitude to team work. It’s a stable team, with several members of staff having long service. This hasn’t led to a culture of nepotism; there are friendships, but there aren’t any cliques. All relationships are highly professional and everyone looks out for each other.
Another key element is the fact that there isn’t a blame culture. Staff are willing to stand up and be accountable for human errors. And in the same breath, they take a proactive, pragmatic appraoch to sorting them out. No-one is afraid to make a mistake, which in turn leads to a more engaged and productive workforce.
My final observation was summed up by Tim Smart, the current Chief Executive at the staff’s Winter Diversity Event earlier this week. He talked about how Kings is seen as an exemplar; he is regularly being asked to speak at events to talk about the Trust’s approach to becoming “effortlessly inclusive”. He highlighted that that Trust is still on its journey and there is still a lot of work to be done. So it was important to recognise and be proud of all that the Trust has achieved to date with the acknowledgement that there is still much to be done. And this gives the staff the drive, energy and passion to keep on improving performance.
I think over the last few years I have been searching for the Holy Grail. And at Kings, I think I’ve found it.
If I was 10 years younger, without kids and lived 10 minutes away, I would glady apply for a job at this Trust. As it is, my personal circumstances are different. But instead, all I can give is this post: a tribute to those within that Trust and for the fabulous experience I had working with them this last year.