4 March - non-executive directors - with Kim Lowe

04 March 2022

This week’s non-executive directors webinar opened in conversation with Kim Lowe, non-executive director at Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust and Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust. The topic was ‘Do I matter and am I heard? How learning from John Lewis may help the NHS to deliver true employee engagement?

Kim said: “If you look at the John Lewis purpose, it’s ultimately the happiness of its members. Full stop. If you then go and look at the NHS there are some great words written down in the NHS Constitution, with principles like ‘we should be rewarding our people with worthwhile jobs’, ‘people should act in freedom and confidence, they should be trusted and listened to’, but all of this is on page 15 at the end of a very long NHS constitution and for me that says it all.”

“The question I ask my chair goes back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. If you think about what drives people in teams and as individuals, it is that list that we all know. How does somebody meet their full potential? How do we ensure people have self-respect, self-esteem, that they get recognition, that they get strength in what they do? Those are the things that drive us as human beings.”

“Are you proud to tell you people that you work for a certain brand? There’s something about putting the pride back into the NHS and how were working.”

“For people to be fulfilled at work you need four things. You certainly need knowledge and information. What the NHS does it communicates and pushes stuff out but it doesn’t stand back and turn that knowledge into understanding. We’ve ensured our comms wasn't just comms but engagement and comms and worked on how we engaged our workforce.”

“The next thing is influence. We’ve had a conversation at the board and talked about risk, we’ve talked about finding some projects or some things to do where we almost accept the risk before we can change it and empower people to let them influence the outcome. It’s a safe trial that drives enormous engagement in the staff.”

“When do we really listen to the staff voice? One of the things I’ve got all of my NEDs doing is asking teams what wellbeing means to them. We stow up the conversation everywhere with that. You get answers like could we have a packet of biscuits by the coffee machine? At the other end it’s would you let me go home on time and go home without the 100 emails still in my inbox?”

Also overheard during the discussion:

“We’re a people business and were nothing without our workforce. If we don’t have the right people with the right skills and attitude and the right number or people, we are nothing. To me there's nothing more important than our workforce. We’re one of the largest employers in the world. It’s really important that we set the right culture at leadership level. I’ve got this thing in my mind about always doing the right thing but we always all know what the wrong thing is so lets avoid that. It’s down to us to lead by example and do the right thing.”

These meetings are by invitation and are open to all NHS non-executives directors, chairs and associate non-executive directors of NHS providers. Others may attend by special invitation.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about these webinars, please contact: events@good-governance.org.uk

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