Not your average Leadership Conference!

Last Thursday (9th January 2014) I had a wonderful opportunity to speak at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s annual Leadership Conference (#engage4change).

The aim of the day was to engage/ re-engage their people with their strategic direction as the organisation moves into 2014.

We have been working with Sussex over the past six months facilitating a series of in-depth focus groups to gain some deep understanding as to what is engaging and disengaging their people.  Giving their staff an opportunity, in their own words, to detail where things are working well and where the blockers are to high levels of engagement.

A fascinating piece of work and, quite frankly, very humbling.  To hear, first-hand, the opportunities people at Sussex have to make a ‘real’ difference to the lives of vulnerable people within the community was very inspiring.  No doubt that these are people incredibly engaged in their job and very proud of being able to make a difference.

So, continuing on from that work we were asked by Sussex to present at the Leadership Conference, primarily to talk around engagement (both in a wider context and also specifically at Sussex) and its role in change as the organisation moves forward and accepts the challenges, head on, for 2014.

The day was set-out by Sue Morris who gave a detailed introduction and background for the aim of the day – this was preceded by a short introduction from Lisa Rodrigues.

Vincent and Kay MacDonald then took the group through a recent employee well-being programme that Anthony Zarola has been assisting Sussex with – this included the (I think well-known) Sainsbury’s Tiger Bread feedback – which nicely highlighted the importance of an organisation listening to its people (Employee Voice) and customers and acting on that feedback.

I then had an opportunity to address the conference, giving background information on what employee engagement is, why it is important and who benefits from high levels of engagement.  Then discussed engagements’ role within change (including a little activity interlude!) and the opportunity that the group had, from a leader/ manager perspective to really define how engaged their teams were and how they can have a direct and positive influence on change within the organisation. Fundamentally, far better to be involved in the change and have an opportunity to influence the change than have it foisted upon oneself!

In the afternoon, we worked closely with Anna Lewis and Lorraine Reid supporting the facilitation of a series of discussions with key service areas about their future, what needs to be continued and developed, changed or stopped to ensure fantastic service and support is being delivered to vulnerable people.

I have to say that the day was very enjoyable and I just wanted to say thank you to those that took the time to speak with me and the team afterwards to say how informative and enjoyable my presentation and activity was (I’m not sure everyone was feeling quite like that after being made to change seats for a third time as part of the activity!).

Finally, a thank you to Kit and Emily for looking after us so well during the day and ensuring that all, technically, worked flawlessly – never an easy job.

You can follow Sussex on Twitter – @withoutstigma.