Organisational Development Superstars - Sue Whittam

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Susan Whittam

27 / 1 / 2014 Midnight

Sue has been chosen as our first OD Superstar of 2014 because of the brilliant work that Sue and her team have carried out on staff engagement.

Bolton NHS Foundation Trust’s long term aim, by 2016, is to match the best integrated care organisations internationally for quality and efficiency of services. In order to achieve this, the trust has developed a workforce strategy that focuses on harnessing staff engagement and motivation to create a culture of improvement.

Key outcomes of the strategy so far:

  • The development of 'Staff Temperature Checks' which measure and monitor staff engagement on a quarterly basis. Scores rose from 3.66 in 2010 to 3.69 in 2011, which is above the national average of 3.62
  • Achieving above average results in the 2011 NHS Staff Survey, demonstrating that despite a major organisational re-structure the trust sits in the top 20 per cent of performers in 31 of the 38 key factors
  • A sickness absence reduction of 0.26 per cent
  • Winning the 2011 HMPA Staff Engagement and Leadership Through Challenging Times Award
  • Holding successful internal ‘conversation’ events across the trust which 43 per cent of staff evaluated as excellent and a further 55 per cent rated as good
  • A 30 per cent increase in productivity following deep engagement case work with disengaged teams.

Sue believes that staff engagement is key to OD because the patient should be at the heart of everything we do as practitioners, "If the work isn't making a difference to patients then we shouldn't be doing it".

Read the full good practice case study

OD Superstar questions

Sue has kindly answered our OD Superstar questions and, in case you're wondering, her favourite sandwich is a sausage butty. We had to ask!

1. How would you describe your role in the organisation?

To maximise the organisation's ability to deliver the best possible care to patients through good people management.

2. What does OD mean to you?

To support the timely achievement of an organisation's objectives and priorities by influencing and developing the right organisational structures, competencies, attitudes and behaviours, supported by a range of OD-specific knowledge, tools and techniques.

3. What OD projects are you most proud of?

The award winning approach to a cost effective engagement programme, subsequent deep engagement case work, and the development of a quality dashboard that evidences the links between engaged staff and patient outcomes.

4. What would you like to learn more about?

Human systems dynamics and there particular importance in healthcare.

5. Who inspires you most?

Managers who strive hard to motivate and inspire staff and staff who are passionate about patients.

6. What’s your one 'must read' book on OD?

'Growing your Own Heroes' – the common sense way to improve business performance by John Oliver and Clive Memmott.

7. What would you like to achieve in 2014?

To help enlightened organisations who really understand the importance of looking after and inspiring their staff in order to achieve the NHS challenges that lie ahead.

8. What would your motto be?

“Be the best you can be”.

9. What advice would you give to a budding OD professional?

Don’t waste time on a definition of OD, simply start with your organisation's burning bridge and measure your impact as close to the patient as you can. Above all be passionate and tenacious!

10. What is your favourite sandwich?

Can I have film? It would be Erin Brockovich, achieving great things through intuition and determination!

Sue can be contacted either through LinkedIn or by email if you have any questions about her work.

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