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Reflect & Improve - NHS working at scale

"The only certain means of success is to render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be." Og Mandino, Author 

The last two weekends have seen me away from home, on top of already spending the week nights away. In those rare instances when this happens, I am looking for a relaxing weekend with friends and family in an environment of great service, where people genuinely care about what they offer.

For those who regularly read my blog you will know I have covered the issue of feedback being a gift a number of times.

When it comes to feedback,

• You can take it
• You can refuse to acknowledge it
• You can like
• You can dislike it

Having said that…

• You should receive it in the spirit that it was given
• You should be grateful

Who wouldn’t want to know something about themselves that others know? If you remain in the dark you have no opportunity to learn and develop or to change for the better.

Keep in mind that perception is your own reality.  While this doesn’t mean you are right or wrong, until something comes along to change your perception it will remain as your reality. 
If you stop for a second and consider: nobody objects to positive feedback; however, hearing nothing but praise isn’t going to help you develop further. 

Back to my weekends away, where I had one that vastly exceeded expectations at Winteringham Fields and one that started badly and got worse at The Belsfield Hotel. Both have now received feedback to that effect, and the decision on what they do with the feedback lies with them.

I don’t know about you but when I check in all I’m expecting is a friendly welcome and a quick service that lets me start my weekend. At The Belsfield it was anything but. Having confirmed my reservation, I was then promptly advised that as I wasn’t part of “their exclusive wedding on Sunday” I was expected to be checked out and to have left both the building and car park by 11.00am on Sunday. Now had I been advised of this in advance of arriving I would have made arrangements to stay elsewhere, as would our friends. This wasn’t offered, of course, as the hotel clearly wanted to maximise income over the weekend at the expense of service for the guests. Not a good model, which the head office are now looking into for me. From then on it got worse, with poor service pretty much the norm. The staff tried hard but either a lack of training, or a directive from management on how they want to run the hotel, got in the way. My feedback to them was to take the time and come in as a guest to be greeted the way we were, while experiencing the service, and I suspect they would make changes. A look at the TripAdvisor® feedback confirms I am not the first to raise these issues.

It may be that they were extremely unlucky to have me follow an excellent weekend at Winteringham Fields, where the greeting was excellent and set the tone for the night we stayed, where the service was quite simply outstanding from the entire team. People clearly cared about what they offered and went way beyond what you would expect. 

The key to this I discovered was that every member of the team twice a year “walks the walk” the guests take. They literally take the individual team members off duty and have them experience the service the guests have. This includes them eating the food, sampling the wine list and going in to the kitchen for “pre desert”, where you meet the kitchen team and become part of making your pre desert. I discovered this by accident having seen the table in the corner giving the waiting team what looked like a pretty hard time. The kitchen team then confirmed they were actually the General Manager, Head Chef and Sommelier, who were all that evening “walking the walk”. The hard time was in fact “payback” for swapping roles for the night.

The  General Manager, Head Chef and Sommelier explained the rationale for doing this again and again is to ensure everyone understands their role and how it impacts those who choose to stay and/or dine with them. I cannot recommend Winteringham Fields highly enough; quite simply an amazing place delivering remarkable experiences for their guests.

Both experiences set me thinking back across my career. I was fortunate enough to work with/for three very different but nonetheless outstanding individuals, only I then realised I hadn’t taken the time to appreciate quite how fortunate I was to have experienced working with/for them.

Each of these people had the ability to get the very best from me; each had built a belief inside of me that I could not fail and each had either built a highly sucessful busineses or led a highly successful company. Each was a highly visible leader who had real vision and could motivate people to deliver the vision; they also viewed feedback as a gift and used it to get the very best from the people who worked with them.

They had one major quality in common, they had an ability to think differently; they went against the tide, ignored convention and achieved remarkable outcomes. I would have followed each one of these people over “the edge of a cliff” as I would have believed they had already sorted out my soft landing at the bottom.

I hasten to add that all three people worked in highly competitive fields, where their companies were viewed as minor players in major fields; however, each achieved results way beyond what would have been expected by thinking and acting differently to the “norm”.

Given the scale of change required in the NHS right now (£22billion by 2020 to deliver the NHS 5 Year Forward View) individually and collectively you/we need to find a way to think and do things differently, swim against the tide (the norm) as it will force you to really innovate within your change projects.  You will look for new ways to achieve your own remarkable outcomes and in doing that are much more likely to come up with, and implement, ideas that succeed.

Once again I encourage you to avoid top down reorganisation and instead engage EVERY stakeholder from the start.  It’s not easy, but it gets real change happening in a positive and constructive way, and also ensures resilience for future challenges.

Whether you have 9, 900, 9000 or more stakeholders to engage it is possible to engage them all, give them a voice and drive the changes you want to see.

If you are thinking of developing an at scale provider organisation, or about delivering any form of change, and are looking for a model to engage every stakeholder in that change, and would like more information on how BW Medical Accountants can support you, or to arrange to speak to one of our experts please contact or call 0191 653 1022.

Additionally, if you should have questions for us please email and we will do our best to answer these within the blog.

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