I love this quote from ‘The Happy Manifesto’ by Henry Stewart and, yes, I’d love to work in an organisation like that. I believe these are principles all managers should aspire to. But, more than this, I believe that only a happy, motivated team can provide a superior level of customer service. What it boils down to at Spiral Health is that we can’t be truly patient-centred unless we are person-centred with our staff.
When it comes to being person-centred with staff, the buck stops with the senior management team – me included. Our philosophy is to be visible and approachable. We regularly walk the wards, talking to patients and visitors and we are extremely open and accessible to staff. As an aside, Happy Manifesto rule 4 is to be open and transparent – I hope our staff would say that we do this well.
That’s not enough, though. Staff need a voice. They need to feel that their views are listened to and valued. Unusually for a healthcare setting, two staff members sit on the board of Spiral Health as non-executive directors. Normally, non-executive directors would be chosen from outside an organisation, but because we are mutually owned, we felt it was imperative for our staff to have this board-level representation.
We also have three very active working groups – an operations group, a business development group and a workforce group. Each group is facilitated by a staff member and attended by a complete mix of staff, representing all aspects of our operation, from nurses to administrators. Our working groups inform all our important decisions and although group membership is voluntary, the majority of staff do attend and engage with the process positively.
It’s fair to say that when we first set up the working groups, some staff felt the meetings were negative and those who were less confident in a group setting often felt unable to contribute. We invested in specialised training (we learned how to run Positive and Productive Meetings) and now the meetings buzz with energy and even the quieter staff are very vocal.
Our business development group works hard on our strategic vision at Spiral Health. It considers how we should grow as a social enterprise. For example, it considers whether we should tender for London-based projects or stay local.
Our operations group is very focused on our Bispham unit. This group considers big issues, such as our Care Quality Commission reports, but also handles the smaller things that are key to making our unit thrive. Thanks to this group we have Easter eggs at Easter, celebrations at Christmas and – following a brainwave from one group member – special non-slip slippers available for patients to buy.
The workforce group focuses on the nitty-gritty of our operations. It is in these group meetings that we use ‘The Happy Manifesto’ as a source of ideas and inspiration. Henry Stewart’s management philosophy has influenced everything from our corporate vision and core values to our recruitment processes and performance reviews.
Another important way we are person-centred with staff is by involving them in our continuous change process, Working Together for Change. During this process patient feedback is scrutinised by a team of stakeholders representing the entire organisation – and the action points agreed truly reflect all viewpoints.
Our working group structure isn’t perfect yet. As with every aspect of our patient-centred work, this is a moving feast. One thing I can report, though, is that running an organisation that is actively person-centred with its staff makes me…. happy.