60-minute appraisal at NHS Direct

SAVE ITEM
case-study

16 / 08 / 2011

The organisation

SHA

What we did and why

How we did it

Results and next steps

Tips for other trusts

Contacts 

 

The organisation

NHS Direct provides people in England with expert health advice and information. Our telephone and online services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We employ over 2,800 staff, including 1,100 trained nurses. Our health information and advice telephone line handles around five million calls each year and around seven million patients use our online health and symptom checkers.

SHA

Our core service is commissioned by the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA), acting as lead commissioner on behalf of the ten SHAs in England.

What we did and why

Like many other NHS organisations, NHS Direct has had challenges to overcome in order to embed the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework. We believe that, to continue delivering excellent patient care, we need to do appraisal well and have a robust mechanism and process in place for reviewing performance and developing roles to help us meet the coming challenges.

The biggest obstacle that seemed to prevent staff at all levels engaging with appraisals and the KSF was the complexity and time involved. Of those staff that responded in our Staff Survey:

  • 43 per cent hadn’t had an appraisal in the last 12 months
  • of those that did, 41 per cent didn’t find it helpful
  • 55 per cent felt that their appraisal didn’t leave them feeling valued.

We decided to focus on how we could radically simplify the KSF and appraisal, while preserving all that was good about it, and building on existing examples of good practice.

We wanted all staff to feel confident in using the e-KSF and take responsibility for their appraisal as an ongoing process, rather than an annual event.

How we did it

We anticipated the findings of the national review of the KSF by focusing on just the six core dimensions, making the KSF much more straightforward for colleagues to understand and less time-consuming to work with. We also radically simplified the appraisal policy and designed a completely new set of jargon-free materials, which were simple, easy to use and written from the point of view of a member of staff needing to quickly and simply understand what needed to be done. In addition we also:

  • developed a strong colourful brand that emphasised the fresh, simple approach to 60-minute appraisals
  • trained our managers to write new, simpler post outlines and how to hold an effective ’60-minute appraisal’ discussion
  • developed a soft skills workshop for staff who needed some support in holding appraisal discussions
  • incorporated a fun recognition scheme to help stimulate  healthy internal competition.


Rather than force people to conduct appraisals at the same year-end point, we empowered everyone to align appraisals with their ongoing regular one to one discussions. The 60-minute appraisal would form one of these meetings, and objectives and personal development plans would be reviewed regularly throughout the year to take account of any changes and in monitoring progress.

We used webinars to train managers and reviewers on the e-KSF in just one hour, in keeping with the 60 minute element. These webinars proved successful and feedback was extremely  positive, with staff viewing them as an effective way to get trained on how to create a post outline.

Results and next steps

At the start of 2011, no staff had an agreed post outline in place. By the beginning of June 2011, this had risen dramatically to 90 per cent of staff. These outlines have been developed in partnership and consistency-checked, and we are continuing to support managers in developing the remaining outlines.

The chief executive has taken a strong lead on this, by developing post outlines and conducting his appraisals using the e-KSF.

We’ve now got appraisals planned for staff across the organisation, and managers are beginning to conduct them with their teams. 60-minute appraisals are flexible enough to work with a range of circumstances, while still preserving the core and consistent standards that are built into the methodology.

Tips for other trusts

Keep it simple. We found that one of the principle barriers to appraisals being completed in the past was that people perceived the KSF as being really complex. Our main task was to strip out unnecessary jargon and focus on the six core dimensions.

Focus on the time element. We believe that a quality appraisal discussion can be held in 60 minutes, and it’s been much easier to engage managers with the concept that appraisals need not take hours and hours of their time.

Get the branding right. We’ve found that having a strong, vivid brand has really helped draw a line under the old approach to the KSF.

Contacts

For further information on NHS Direct’s 60-minute appraisals, contact appraisals@nhsdirect.nhs.uk  

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