Leadership Academy

Case study: Birmingham Community NHS Foundation Trust

Introduction Text:
Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust provides a range of community and specialist services to the population of Birmingham. The Trust underwent a merger in 2010/11 and has been through a period of significant change. The organisation was identified as a good community based pilot site as they are currently at a stage where they are able to embrace talent management within their organisation, looking to evolve appraisal to the next level through commitment from the Board and Executive teams.

Overview of Pilot

The staff survey feedback for 2013 indicated that there was an issue with staff engagement. In addition whilst PDR rates were high, the quality of the conversation was not consistently high and staff did not feel valued as a result of their PDR conversation. The Trust has been part of the inclusive Talent Management (iTM) programme and when the MPC Tool came along it appeared that it could be used to drive up the quality of PDRs, provide opportunities for staff to discuss their development outside of the PDR process and identify gaps in people processes, strategies and structures that support talent and personal development conversations. We were particularly interested in understanding how it could be used at all levels as we recognise talent at all levels. We made a conscious decision to include our apprentices and their managers as we have an excellent apprenticeship programme and retention and progression rates for our young people.


Implementation Process

In terms of preparation we had all of the necessary frameworks and strategies in place (i.e. for organisational behaviour, performance management, learning and development and reward and recognition) however they needed tying in more closely to the PDR process, and alongside the pilot the Trust developed the following which will support us going forward:

  • New leaders code and competency framework
  • Implementation of 360 for band 7 and above
  • Launch of a staff charter.

All of these are linked to the values and new PDR paperwork and preparation material has been developed (although currently in draft) to crystallise this.

In terms of the development of local materials, we developed a flier for staff and we revised the handbook for managers to support the conversation. We also developed PDR paperwork and revised the preparation material so that managers could use this in draft to give us feedback. We also held briefing sessions and question and answer sessions.  These were successful to varying degrees as some managers continued with the pilot and others didn’t. Also following these sessions some managers needed more follow up on a 1-1 basis.


What worked well?

The development of local resources enabled us to consider how we could strengthen messages around the frameworks that support a talent conversation-especially with the PDR paperwork we were able to more closely link the Trust values to support discussions around behaviour. The pilot timeframe has been very helpful as we have been developing our OD and L&D processes and toolkits at the same time, and the MPC tool has been considered within the PDR policy review, talent management work, development of a staff charter and leaders code, leadership competency framework, 360 feedback tool and the review of our leadership development pathway and programme. In addition we have noticed that we don’t promote values and behaviour linked to PDR strongly enough at induction and we are currently reviewing our induction programme to incorporate this.  The tool is very eye catching and has become a “conversation “piece to some extent and this is a good way of branding talent conversations. On the down side it is expensive to reproduce in colour and we have to consider how we print the papers off.

Other positive aspects of the approach include:

  • The tool has helped us to focus on support for managers and to some degree staff to have those courageous conversations and that some managers actually need more targeted support to have effective PDRS
  • In terms of where to have the conversation this has triggered an idea around mapping the staff journey through the organisation and linking support at each stage to encourage staff to see what support they can access and expect at each stage. This is a theme for the launch of some new OD tools in 2014 -15
  • What do we do with our “purple people” – following the pilot we recognise the need to have clearer and more transparent processes to support people on to the next steps. We are currently discussing the development of our talent map and using the MPC tool to trigger access to a talent pool
  • It will be really good to use at the first PDR following induction to help the manager know what skills and abilities the staff member brings with them and to build on-going rapport
  • MPC conversations are key to facilitating a culture shift as there is a negative perception of performance management in our trust as fed back by our IIP assessor in February 2013.  By taking an MPC approach and having coaching conversations this should help.


What worked less well / ideas for improvement?

  • Preparation paperwork to be in the form of a booklet to make it more transportable, podcasts and scenarios online.
  • Case studies on links to wider organisation policies and strategies to clarify how it used in a performance management context
  • Guidance note book for managers and staff on assessing whether they are ready to have the conversation and what they need to do to prepare.
  • Design some posters and promotional material to down load so we can use at induction and raise awareness across a wide range of bases
  • Consider the colours – many staff liked the gold as they linked it to gold standard, there was some feedback about green being linked to compliant and also inexperienced