Leaders and managers in the NHS have demanding jobs. No doubt about that. The service is available round the clock every single day of the year.
The organisations that they lead and manage in are large, complex, very much in the media spotlight. If we measured the number of good news to bad news stories that get publicised we would be extremely disappointed.
When we lose track of what matters then we can end up getting drawn into what might be described as peripheral. Yes it matters to an extent but is not priority.
Yet in my experience few pay attention to tracking where they are investing their time and energies. Could you honestly give an accurate assessment of where you invested time and energies?
If you can, what proportion of your time was focused on those areas that really mattered?
Hopefully you know, have articulated and agreed as a leadership and management team and even in your sub teams what matters.
It is easy to come up with areas like quality, safety, access and financial targets. This is better than nothing. On the other hand is it specific enough? Does it allow you to take instant decisions on where to invest time and energies?
Take a typical acute hospital. Chances are some of the issues will include:
- High numbers of patients presenting for treatment at A&E
- Delays in patients be delayed for discharge
- Operations being cancelled
Of course there are all the core things that need to be tackled like safety, quality, achieving access targets and financial performance targets. These are really the business as usual activities. Yes they need attention but necessarily exclusively by leaders and managers.
If leaders are to lead and managers are to manage, they need to ensure that their focus is on what really matters rather than on what merely fills their time.
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