continuous improvement, Leadership

Listen with fascination – How to get more love into the workplace – part 8

When was the last time you really listened to someone? Not just listened to give advice or to respond; not half-listened but really listened? Apparently we only retain 25% of what we hear as we are not actively listening. That’s 75% of what others tell us, we miss.

Giving your full attention to another person, is an extremely compassionate and human thing to do. We talk about compassion as a significant part of how we treat our patients in the NHS, however we talk about it less so in relation to how we treat each other.

To me, building a culture of compassion is crucial to ensuring that organisations enable people to bring their whole selves to work. If we truly want to build cultures of continuous improvement, where staff are enabled to make change in their own areas, then leaders and managers must learn to really listen to staff and support them to make that change. As Andy Stanley warns, “Leaders who do not listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” This is a dangerous situation to be in as groupthink can creep in.

Recently I had the privilege of talking to Professor Michael West about our leadership development programme ‘Leading for the Future’; due to be launched by our Chief Executive in the Autumn. The aim of the programme is to support our most senior leaders to create the enabling environments within every directorate that will allow staff to make the change they want to see. We have identified the competencies we believe our leaders will need to create the right conditions for staff to take the organisation forward. We have categorised these competencies into our three pillars of leadership with the first and foremost being Culture of Compassion.

During our conversation West talked about the importance of leaders really listening and told me a fact that I found alarming which was that it has been proven that the more senior people become the less they listen. This appears to me to be paradoxical as surely the more senior you become, the more you need to listen so that you really understand your people and your organisation. There is a real danger that leaders become fixated in their own social construct and rely on their memory of what life was like when they were on the frontline earlier on in their careers. This can lead them to become out of touch; lead from a place of fear and put forward directives or initiatives that are based in historical success rather than on what the organisation needs today.

West identifies that compassionate leadership, the type required to enable a culture of continuous improvement to flourish, is supported through:

  1. Attending – paying attention to the other and ‘listening with fascination’
  2. Understanding – finding a shared understanding of the situation they face
  3. Empathising – feeling how it is to be in their situation
  4. Helping – taking intelligent action to help them achieve their purpose

This can really only be achieved well through visible leadership; that is leaders going out and about meeting with and listening to their staff to really understand their views.

So, next time you are talking to someone in your organisation, I urge to you to stop, pay attention and listen with fascination. What you learn may surprise you.

 

 

With thanks to Professor Michael West, Head of Thought Leadership for The King’s Fund and Professor of Work and Organisational Psychology at Lancaster University

 

About the author

Sarah Morgan is the Director of Organisational Development for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and passionate about building more human organisations

Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMorganNHS

 

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culture of compassion, Leadership, Organisational development, patient centred care, Staff development

My New Year’s Resolution: To Get More Love into The Workplace

December is the month that most people spend more time socially with their work colleagues than any other period in the year.   Increasingly outlandish Christmas jumpers are worn, Secret Santas are drawn and many after work drinks imbibed. Come the New Year, it’s all back to normal and the joy we find in the workplace in December is lost in the cold, dark months of the winter.

I’m fascinated by the need to get more love and joy into the workplace. I’ve been struck this year by the work of Frederic Laloux, whose book Reinventing Organizations – A Guide to Creating Organizations inspired by the next stage of human consciousness has been my most inspirational read of the year. So this coming year, 2016, I’ve decided that my New Year’s Resolution is to get more love into the workplace!

Many of us go to work having created an image of ourselves that is our ‘work persona’. I’m as guilty as everyone else; I have my ‘work wardrobe’ and I don’t mix my work clothes with my ‘fun’ clothes. Anyone else do that?

I think being yourself in the workplace is incredibly important and the way to developing a culture of trust and authenticity. According to the Collins dictionary[1] the definition of authentic isgenuine… accurate in representation of the facts; trustworthy; reliable;” all of which are characteristics of people I want to spend a considerable amount of my time with.     

I’ve been giving a lot of thought over the past year as to how we develop a culture of compassion in our NHS organisation and I’ve concluded that authentic leadership is a vital component. Going hand in hand with this is collective leadership, where everyone takes personal responsibility for the success of the organisation (definitely worth reading Michael West’s work in this area[2]). This is particularly important in an environment where many of the staff enjoy professional autonomy. Ensuring that every one of our 13,650 staff feel part of the organisation and take responsibility for the success of the whole organisation, is crucial to our continued success.

It’s been a challenging year in the NHS and despite the welcome additional £3.8bn from the Treasury in the Spending Review, it feels as though next year will continue to be a huge challenge for its 1.4 million staff. Bringing love and joy into our NHS organisations will be a really important factor in keeping up the morale of our staff.

There was a lot of love for the NHS this Christmas as the NHS Choir beat all the odds and made it to the Christmas No1, with Bridge Over You selling over 127,000 copies and raising money for charities such as MIND and Carers UK. (Watch the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8qHXlShfUQ). Keeping that feel good factor and that overwhelming feeling of joy of really being part of something that matters I see as a key priority for our NHS organisation, and the NHS as a whole this year.

So where to start? It was Peter Drucker who said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

I intend to start by building a culture of compassion. Ensuring we have the right culture, driven by our visible values and behaviours; encouraging a culture of authentic and collective leadership; supporting our teams with the development of emotional intelligence and seeing the individuals in front of them rather than just following a policy is this years’ focus.

I’ll keep you up to date on progress; what works (and what doesn’t) throughout 2016 on this blog and my Twitter account @sarahmorgannhs.

This year, I can’t wait to achieve my New Year’s Resolution!

[1] http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/authentic Accessed on 28 December 2015

[2]West M et al; Developing collective leadership for healthcare; The King’s Fund and Centre for Creative Leadership; May 2014

Sarah Morgan is the Director of Organisational Development for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

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