Too much management in the NHS?

Back to work after the bank holiday and another morning waking up to Radio 4’s Today Programme. This morning it was medical doctor (retired I believe) who caught my ears claiming the the problem with the NHS today was too much management. And I have a certain sympathy for his point of view. Peter Drucker once said,

“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”

and there does seem to be a fair bit of this in the NHS.

But how do we square this with the Healthcare commission report that found that fewer than 1 in 5 of staff in my local PCT or Acute Trust had received a performance review in the last 12 months that they found helpful? Personal development plans are poor and ineffective and staff engagement is weak.

The answer is obvious.

The problem is not too much management, but too much of the wrong kind of management. The kind that is obsessed about measuring ‘performance’ and then hectoring (in some cases bullying) staff to produce more – rather than engaging and developing staff in the challenge of providing ever improving healthcare.

What is required is not more of the ‘scientific’ management of the performance management consultants but more person centred management that helps staff to reconnect with their reasons for joining the NHS and helping to find satisfaction and fulfillment in a job well done.

(If you are interested in this topic then you must check out the post that Tom Peters has just written.)