10th December 2020 David Webster

Merging Cultures in the NHS

What was at stake?
Multiple teams of leaders within a newly merging large NHS organisation wished to equip the top 100 leaders to perform effectively in what was a challenging environment and enable them to adapt to working in a ‘matrix’ structure, through the building of more trusting and open relationships, supporting cultural transformation and more effective communication, and supporting a clarity of focus in creating new structures while ‘still getting the job done’. It was a culture of high change, ambiguity and stress. Re-structuring was seen as business as usual.

What did we do?
We worked with the Executive and Departmental teams in team coaching sessions and in executive coaching programmes. This helped bring clarity on process, priorities, key business objectives and on how to manage change. These were consolidated through a series of team events for the Top 100 leaders and coaching skills development to support greater teamship. Additional issues included:

  • Validation and Self Worth following continual re-structure and adaptation to new roles and requirements in difficult recruitment settings
  • Dealing with an previous underlying “remedial” culture
  • Stress and building resilience and well-being
  • Understanding expectations and assumptions in a new role
  • Managing change and transition
  • Understanding what was required of leaders in creating direction and meaning in this complex environment

What was the outcome?
The development of leaders in this way and the creation of a coaching approach and behaviours amongst senior leaders was seen as instrumental in shifting the culture of the organisation over time and in supporting a wide number of individuals to lead change effectively and productively. The organisation is now thriving and has tripled in size since our work first started. Our work with this organisation extended beyond the initial 12-month contract, and eventually lasted more than five years. Our work was cited as being hugely instrumental in the development of a thriving organisational culture, and the capacity of leaders to more effectively support themselves, colleagues and their teams, in service of the wider system.

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