Comment

07.12.16

Change the climate

Source: NHE Nov/Dec 16

Jill DeBene, CEO of the Institute of Healthcare Management (IHM), argues that there needs to be radical change to the climate in the NHS to encourage future leaders to take up top-level positions.

Earlier this year, the IHM published a report which looked at the pressures health and care leaders face and the impact this is having on the leadership crisis in UK healthcare. Currently, 30% of trusts experience vacancies for key board-level leaders and the average tenure of an NHS chief executive officer is just two and a half years. 

With health and care leaders under constant pressure to do more with less, to give more of themselves while their resources decrease and all of this while being held under the microscope of intense political and media scrutiny, it’s no surprise that fewer people want to take on this challenge. 

The current challenges and need for change 

Previous research into this area had mainly focused on the current generation of leaders and managers. As a result, our ‘Building Future Leaders’ report looked solely at the impact the current healthcare climate is having on the trainees, early- and mid-level managers. The report set out to understand what these future leaders were thinking and feeling, and to gauge whether this next generation is ready and willing to take on the leadership challenge. 

Our research found that 74% of the managers questioned were either unsure or definitely did not aspire to hold an executive board-level position. The main reason given was that the respondents felt that the demands placed on healthcare service delivery, with current available resources, was grossly unrealistic. This suggests that the top-level jobs are simply seen as too challenging in the current climate to be attractive to many managers. 

Our findings also showed that 53% of people in our survey felt that managing change was a key developmental area for them, with just over two-fifths specifically citing managing integration and new models of care as something that they do not have the skills or confidence to do. This suggests that even if the future leaders did want to take on the challenge, they need support to develop the right skillset and build their confidence, but also need current leaders to help create the right environment for change. 

Overall, the report shows we need change. And based on the growing empty leadership posts, we need to change now. 

In a recent blog, entitled ‘Their own weather’, Roy Lilley talked about how this change includes a need for managers to declutter their organisation, allowing space for good people to do great things. He places emphasis on creating a simpler climate and increased collaboration across geographies and organisations in a way much greater than before, and we agree with him.

Leadership and professional development app 

The next challenge for the IHM is how to support our members to create this change. We are passionate about helping our members to develop the capabilities and behaviours they need so that they can change the weather in their organisations and ensure great things can happen. One development that we are very excited about is our leadership and professional development app.

 Just like many of us have access to fitness dashboards and significant data from ‘wearables’, the IHM aspires to ensure that all its members will have access to similar easy-to-use data about their skills, behaviours and developmental needs. 

Our app will work as a personalised development programme to ensure those in healthcare management can continue to feel supported and developed at all stages of their careers. Together we can create future managers that are in charge of their individual plan and equipped to improve the climate, whatever the weather.

For more information

W: www.ihm.org.uk

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