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A team approach to change

The NHS has just suffered probably the biggest shock in its history caused by the Coronavirus global pandemic and is still struggling to recover from its devastating impact. What is most needed by the NHS now is a period of recovery and essential development followed by consolidation and stability.

Helen Northall

This can be achieved by strong leadership, along with a well-planned and executed staff recruitment, retention, training and development drive, primarily in these key areas:

  • Implementing quality-assured processes to deal with the backlog of acute elective activity and primary care routine appointments
  • Addressing growing mental health needs
  • Reviewing and building on the lessons learned from the Coronavirus pandemic – including the benefits, such as the increased use of digital technology in clinical and non-clinical settings
  • Ensuring any new NHS investment is used effectively where needed most

What does all this mean – that change is inevitable, with staff who have managed so much pressure for a sustained period it’s really important to take an appreciative inquiry approach – work with people to reflect on and start from past successes and positive experiences – what is working, what do they feel pride in etc., and then take a continuous learning approach – what needs tweaking, how do we test further changes, evaluate and adapt again for continuous improvement.

“The only thing that is constant is change.”
Heraclitus – Greek philosopher

Leaders need to support this approach by providing a safe and trusting environment, with a no-blame culture, where people are as happy to talk about what hasn’t worked as well as what has worked. It’s important to be open to new ideas and allow succeeding or failing together to foster continuous improvement. A group coaching approach that is solution focused – allowing solutions to emerge and co-creating the solution to get a bigger impact, and more importantly ownership, is needed. Asking the challenging questions to test the approach in a safe environment where glitches are worked through. When disagreements happen, discuss what happened, feelings and how to move forward. Understanding what makes a team and the different team roles may help, for example using Belbin team roles, enhancing understanding of what each person brings to the team, and any missing elements to make the team successful may be valuable. There are many change approaches, Kotter provides an excellent framework, but understanding how to manage resistance and why people may resist is crucial.

Using a trust/agreement matrix and identifying your allies, opponents, adversaries and bedfellows as well as the fence sitters may bring clarity on how to get individuals, and other organisations on board. The challenge of becoming a team across organisations and driving cross organisational change forward to redesign clinical pathways, shift where treatment happens and develop high quality sustainable services for the future is just beginning.

PCC has a team that can support, contact us for more information, whether it’s to train your leaders in the approaches above, or to provide hands on support for service redesign. Contact