Time after time we hear about organisations in the NHS and healthcare where there is a problem or challenge with clinical engagement. At the same time every leader in healthcare knows just how important it is to get the varied groups of clinical professionals on board in order to deliver great services and performance consistently.
So what do we mean by having clinicians engaged?
All staff whether clinical or non clinical are dedicated, committed, passionate and believe in what they do.
When staff are engaged they also give what is often referred to as discretionary effort. By that I don’t just mean doing more hours. It is more like going over and above what is expected because they want to. It actually brings a sense of fulfilment and enjoyment.
In theory this sounds really simple, so why is it such a struggle?
One thing most organisations in healthcare have is that clinical staff are often the people who stay around for the long term. When they see senior managers coming and going it means that trust has to be continually re-built.
Focus On Own Agenda
In large and complex organisations it is often easy to fall into the trap of focusing what matters to them rather than focusing on what matters to patients and service users.
Bad Experiences In The Past
Maybe people have been engaged in the past but things did not work out well. They are therefore not surprisingly reluctant to engage in the future.
So how can you get more engagement?
Spend More Time In The Thick Of It
Managers and leaders might think that they know what it is really like in the front line. Taking the time to see things first hand will not only help with perspective.
It will also help you to work more with others to reach key decisions, get the support and get results that you want.
Listen A Lot More
People at the sharp end of serving the patient or client don’t just see the problems but have ideas for doing things better. Being a leader or manager is as much about facilitating and orchestrating success as it is taking action. Listening leverages the full potential of the talents at your disposal.
Invite Others To Shadow You
While you can always better understand the environment your people work in, there is a lot of merit in people from clinical backgrounds shadowing you. It gives them greater insight into your challenges too which should help in having a more constructive dialogue around decisions and changes.
Sometimes you are trying to do something to take the organisation further. At other times there will be things where you have been given the mandate to implement something that has been decided centrally. Explain fully the rationale.
Remember You Are The Same Team
At the end of the day you are all on the same team, serving the same group of stakeholders. When thing get tricky, stop and re-focus on the core purpose and key client groups.
The Bottom Line: Getting better clinical engagement is key to delivering great service, performance, results and achieving high levels of service user satisfaction.
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