Perception, Propaganda and Performance


Perception propaganda and performance - what's it got to do with HR & OD?

When asked to write this for the HPMA newsletter, I started thinking about a topic. I took to social media for further inspiration and stumbled across an article on the BBC news app. Within the article was a quote from the CEO of the Taxpayers Alliance who declared that ‘the rewards for failure culture is rife in the NHS and it must be stamped out as a matter of urgency’.

Is there really a ‘reward for failure’ culture in the NHS? Or is this apparent ‘culture’ due, in part, to the propaganda often portrayed by today’s daily newspapers which informs the public perception of the performance of the NHS – often missing out the part where teams work far in excess of their contractual hours, receive pay increases below the level of inflation (or none at all), yet remain compassionate and committed to the work they do each day.

The same article said how ‘no-one begrudges paying doctors and nurses well for the tough jobs they do…….’ I agree with this – but I also believe that there are those managers leading and being accountable for teams, services and entire Hospitals who do tough jobs and deserve every penny of their salary.

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve worked in the NHS for almost 20 years and I know it isn’t perfect – but in more recent years, I’ve seen considerable scrutiny of ‘managers’ in the NHS; implementation of legislation which ultimately holds them to account for corporate manslaughter, a subtle contractual variation regarding incremental pay, and factually inaccurate information in local and national press.

So other than me ranting, what has all this go to do with HR&OD I hear you say. Well, take a look at the HPMA Competency Framework. No, we can’t change what the media write, the perceptions of others, or indeed whether ‘managers’ (and I include HR&OD professionals in that term) are unfairly criticised – however, what we can play a role in, as HR&OD professionals, is the future perception and performance of the NHS (unfortunately propaganda is the part we can’t change).

How? Well; Capability Builder talks about ‘driving organisational culture and performance’; Strategic Operator mentions how HR&OD professionals ‘lead the development of workforce and HR best practice across the organisation by using best in class external comparisons to continually improve performance’; HR&OD Expert asks us to ‘deliver and develop interventions to help people managers improve their skills, capability and performance’; and in Change Catalyst, it states that we ‘lead and creates inspiring vision and case for change in line with business objectives by ensuring the organisation is responsive to changes in the external environment which impacts on organisational performance’.

So we have a framework; a model, on which we can build an evolving HR&OD profession that can really contribute to how your organisation is perceived, how it performs,– and how we can support the development of a culture that perhaps in time, won’t be viewed as one that is apparently rife with a ‘performance for failure’ – but instead a future NHS culture where HR&OD is truly seen as an Expert, Strategic Operator, who play a pivotal role in shaping its performance, its perception, and who knows, maybe one day, even reducing the propaganda.
How are you aligning your future HR&OD function with the HPMA competency framework (view here) ?

James Devine, Deputy Director of HR&OD, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust

Welcome to the June edition of the HPMA membership newsletter.

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