A hospital trust has been struggling to improve its performance and its organisational effectiveness. It has been hampered in the past by its hierarchical structure, bureaucratic management and ineffective leadership at all levels. It has also had a divisive, inward-looking culture with, for example, many doctors tending to look down on generalist managers while failing to see that they themselves, despite their degrees in clinical subjects, often have much to learn about the effective management of budgets and people.
Leadership skills at senior management level have been particularly poor, but the Trust’s new chief executive officer has begun a process of radical transformation to make the Trust more outward-looking, with improved levels of employee engagement and of internal and external customer service. Management and the provision of specialist services including human resource (HR) management and development have been streamlined, using assessment centres to help determine suitability for new or changed roles. This has led to the recruitment of new staff as many former managers and professionals failed to gain re-employment in the downsized Trust. A new performance management process currently being established has as its key features creative ways of rewarding good performance, clear measures for activity, and an emphasis on behaviours that will ensure across the Trust well-managed service delivery provided by trained and motivated people.
The Trust’s reorganised HR department now employs eight HR professionals, four of them new to the Trust and indeed to the National Health Service. In addition it has a new HR director, brought in from the commercial sector. In the past, HR was seen in the Trust as no more than the guardian of personnel procedures and the organiser of recruitment exercises. Now, the HR director is determined that the department will become a true business partner, ultimately skilled enough to sell its professional services to external organisations as well as to internal customers. He believes that HR has a particularly vital role to play in helping to build a new culture across the Trust.
The learning and development (L&D) function used to be the ‘Cinderella’ of the HR department. However there is now a new L&D manager in post, who will be reporting to and working closely with the HR Director. Together they aim to ensure that L&D plays a major part in aiding the transformation of the HR department and of the Trust more widely.
You are the new L&D manager. You and the HR Director have been discussing the kind of changes that the HR Department need to enable. Drawing on research and practice as well as on the case study data, produce a draft report for the HR Director in which you:
1. Consider how the hierarchal structure, existing culture and the power of the doctors, may impact on the changes that are being proposed.
2. Produce a set of recommendations of ways in which to reduce the risk of such changes. Consider ways of improving communication and team work to enable the cultural changes needed.
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