Lessons from a 1980’s pop song

Jeanette Crisp argues we should give people time to make changes in the way they perform at work.
“It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it,” according to the pop groups Bananarama and The Fun Boy Three in a classic 1980’s song. I would have to disagree in terms of service delivery – what you do is incredibly important as people need to have the technical skills and capabilities to deliver their role, but the way that you do things does seem to have become more and more important.
Gone are the days when being technically brilliant at what you do was enough to ensure your safe passage through life and your career – now you need to be able to demonstrate the required behaviours that are expected in your organisation, demonstrate empathy, display compassion and actively show you care about the person that you are dealing with at that moment in time.
So why are we so focused on this now? Have we just thought ‘bad’ behaviour was OK before? I don’t think this was the case; however, I do think we have maybe made allowances, adapted and worked around those that aren’t doing things entirely as you would hope – something we seem far less prepared to do today with the bar being set higher than before and action being taken against those that fail to comply.
Regular patient and staff surveys highlight where we are falling short on delivery, and changing the way we deliver services can often seem like a ‘quick win’ compared to trying to change government policy or shift commissioners’ opinions on the finances necessary to run our services. So we tackle the things we can to demonstrate some improvements next time we get surveyed.
HR were delighted that this proactive approach is being taken to address issues that we have probably noted (and got frustrated about) for years. But the tricky issue comes from the fact that we now almost seem to expect people to be psychic – to know the required behaviours, be aware of their own shortcomings and make the necessary adjustments in record time. And often those that need to make the biggest changes are those that have been left to their own devices for years and so have no idea that they are ‘off beam’.
My plea is that we take the time to make early interventions rather than jump in to investigations – to give people the opportunity to make the changes. I truly believe that people are working in health and social care because they care about the service they deliver and want to be part of making the patient experience the best it can be – so let’s give them the chance to do this in an informed way.
If we do that and people know what to expect, then make a decision not to join us on the journey – then they will know the implications of that choice!
Jeannette Crisp, Associate Director of HR and OD
Surrey Choices

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