We Can Change The World One Conversation At A Time


Dear Colleague

I’ve had a great week, spending the majority of it at Al Wakra joining in some of the conversation we’ve been having and seeing for myself some of the progress we’re making.

Last week I talked about the way that hospitals tend to have “settings” – a bit like a thermostat. These settings are the way the hospital will work if we step back and allow it to function without any serious attempt to make things better.

I’m sure we all agree that we’d actually like the hospital to work as well as possible. So this week I’d like to talk about the power of a good question.

Frederick Herzberg reported on what drives people’s satisfaction at work in the 1950’s. He said that these things are what people associate with satisfaction at work:

Achievement – the feeling that you’re making progress, getting things done.
Recognition – the feeling that your efforts are appreciated.
The work itself – the feeling that what you’re doing is worthwhile.
Responsibility – the feeling that you’ve got some freedom to act.
Advancement – the feeling that you’re career will develop.
Growth – the feeling that you’re learning and developing.  

Over the next few weeks we will be preparing for our first Divisional Performance Reviews. These will be occasions when we will come together and discuss the plans each Division has to make progress on our priorities, to share achievements and problem solve when we’re uncertain how to make the next move.

This will be a good opportunity to work with some of the areas that Herzberg mentions. 

We can:

  • Celebrate the small victories
  • Recognise the hard work that is being put in
  • Discuss the importance of strengthening patient safety and building better quality
  • Encourage responsible decision-making
  • Identify people with the potential to do more
  • Provide opportunities to learn new skills.

In short, Performance Review will be the chance to have a conversation together about making Al Wakra a better hospital and a nicer place to work.

But we don’t need to limit these kinds of conversations to formal meetings. 

Susan Scott wrote:

“Our work, our relationships, and our lives succeed or fail one conversation at a time”.

In the week ahead why not start a conversation of your own about the good things you see around you? If you see something that you think could be better, talk about that too.

In our Timeout earlier this year we talked about how important it was that we didn’t allow gaps between us to start to appear.

We had in mind the way that senior managers and front line staff can occasionally feel a long way from each other. Or the way that managers and clinicians can sometimes misunderstand one another. Or the way that Al Wakra and corporate HMC can sometimes feel separated by more than the kilometres between our offices.

This is so important and it’s why keeping the conversation going between us is so important. It’s why I write these letters and it’s why we’re putting in place mechanisms to make sure we’re regularly in touch with each other.

Any conversation is a two way process. Usually it will start with a question and is followed by a response.

Here are some good questions you can use to start your next conversation.

Well done, that’s going well. What have you learnt that might be useful to me or other people?

I can see you’re putting a lot of hard work into this. How can I help?” 

I’d like to understand this better. Can you share what you know?

That’s great, really good. What are you going to do next?

They’re some of the questions I’ll be asking in our Performance Reviews next month.

I’ll close this letter as usual by wishing you and your family good health and happiness for the week ahead.

Best wishes


If you’d like to catch up on any of the earlier letters you will find them all here: http://healthyleaderblog.com/blog/