In the week of #WorldMentalHealthDay, Healthskills is playing a small part along with thousands of other organisations to raise awareness of mental health issues and advocate against social stigma.  Our work coaching leaders and teams to improve their Organisational Health has highlighted that often basic communication skills such as learning how to give and receive constructive feedback, encouraging praise and recognising small wins, and empowering others to act are often the key to helping individuals with resilience and resourcefulness.

Time to Change is a growing social movement working to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems. They have already reached millions of people and begun to improve attitudes and behaviour.  They offer excellent advice to end mental health discrimination and help organisations improve staff mental wellbeing, and I make no apology for repeating this here:

Your mental wellbeing at work

  • Take your breaks: a change of scene and fresh air
  • Don’t bottle things up: ask for help if you need it
  • Celebrate achievement: don’t just focus on what you haven’t done
  • Work-life balance: make time for non-work activities and meeting friends
  • In-house support: what wellbeing support is available at work?

Looking out for others at work

  • Avoid working in a silo: be mindful of others’ pressures
  • How are you?: take time to ask others how they are
  • Look out for changes: if someone is not quite themselves
  • One to ones: include mental wellbeing in catch-ups
  • Be informed: look into mental health awareness training

Remember that mental health can affect anyone and statistically, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year. No one should have to fear being treated differently because of a mental health problem so make the advice from Time to Change part of your cultural shift to ‘the way we do things around here’.

For more information and access to the Time To Change resources and to get your workplace involved in the discussion follow this link.


Civility Saves Lives

Chris Turner

I had a really great experience eating a meal in a pub with my elderly mum a few weeks ago. Apart from the fact that the food was delicious and well-priced, what made a difference was that the staff were terrific – polite, attentive, informed in helping us choose and being particularly patient with mum’s indecision.  Not for the first time I was struck by the impact that great manners and taking a genuine interest in others can have to deliver a very rewarding experience.

This reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a Medical Director at an NHS hospital trust, and his enthusiasm for the increasing evidence base showing that civility between colleagues can greatly improve patient care and save lives.

Put simply, if someone is rude to us at work, even if this is mild to moderate, and not extreme, research shows that our bandwidth to complete our tasks can be reduced by up to 61%.  As we can often feel powerless and even humiliated, this reduction in our performance can have an enduring impact throughout the day.  Furthermore, when an incident of rudeness or incivility occurs in teams, there is a collateral impact on other team members: a 20% reduction in team performance and a 50% drop in willingness to help others.

This has a major influence on how teams work and deliver.  Research from Riskin and Erez (The Impact of Rudeness on Medical Team Performance; Pediatrics; September 2015) shows that the single most important fact that determines the output of medical teams is how they treat each other.

So, if there is now strong evidence that when we work with someone who is civil and treats us with respect, we feel empowered and encouraged to work at our best, and the reverse is undoubtedly true, what is our challenge as leaders?  Maybe it starts with saying please and thank you routinely? Asking your colleague about their weekend, and holidays at this time of year? Avoiding rolling our eyes if someone continues to repeat things you’ve heard before? Tackling unacceptable behaviours in others proactively rather than expending wasted efforts going around them?

I would like to acknowledge the excellent work of Chris Turner and Civility Saves Lives – a project with a mission to promote positive behaviours and share the evidence base around positive and negative behaviours  A fascinating TEDx talk by Chris Turner from June this year can be seen here:

Millennials and Leadership

We all know that the Millennial generation (also known as Generation Y) covers those born between 1981 and 1995. Those born after 1995 are part of Generation Z.

Millennials cover an age range of 24-38 so it is no surprise that many are now in management and leadership roles. This article looks at how Millennials are impacting in the Leadership arena as they bring their focus and motivations to the workplace. My expectation is that many readers of this article will be Millennials and it would be really good to have their feedback to this article

How millenials are perceived

As part of the research for this piece I pulled on articles generated by others interested in this space.

Initially some pointers about Millennials in Leadership

In a Millennials survey conducted by Virtuali and Work Place Trends, some interesting pointers showed that 91% of respondents wanted to lead and 50% said that “leadership” is the empowerment of others. The respondents believed they were strong in communication and relationship building – core Millennial features – but lacked confidence in industry experience and commercial expertise.

This throws up to me a warning that Millennials need to have greater commercial awareness on the impact their lifestyle views have on the success of the organisation which is paying them to deliver results.

The survey showed that Millennials clearly have different expectations from previous generations about what they expect to see in their leaders and the social good their organisations are doing both in the workplace and the wider environment.

A Forbes report by Kimberley Fries: 7 Ways Millennials Are Changing Traditional Leadership – highlights how Millennials are impacting on Leadership

    1. They’re showing a willingness to leave when leadership doesn’t meet standards
      Millennial are much more prepared to leave a management role where the leadership has shortcomings and demonstrates the leaders are not prepared to change. Their actions here have caused major disruption in a number of organisations leading to changes about how managers communicate and engage with the wider work force
    2. Millennials are expressing different needs regarding leadership training
      Leadership Millennials are quite demanding about having mentors and on line training facilities to build on their leadership knowledge base. Not all organisations are ready to engage with their needs
    3. They embrace a flat management structure
      Millennials are interested in lateral development as well as ladder development. Flatter structures allow them to focus and develop in both areas
    4. Millennials value leaders who seek feedback from all employees
      Feedback across the workforce is a key Millennials principle and so with the flat management structure mentioned above, Millennials expect leaders who consider everybody in their decision making
    5. They push back against policy for policy’s sake
      In principle Millennials support leadership decisions that benefit the organisation at large. However they have a questioning/challenging approach to most workplace situations. This means as leaders they are more willing to delve into previous decision making processes
    6. As leaders they seek to empower and transform
      Millennials have a cause which is the improvement of mankind and the environment. This means as leaders they will want to create structure, empowerment and engagement levels across organisations
    7. They seek and support flexibility and work-life balance
      Top of the Millennials wants list are a true work/life balance brought about by flexible hours, telecommuting, self-care and flexible workplaces. As they gain an increasing part in the leadership of organisations they have a main focus to drive change across how organisations actually work.

Where does this all take us?

The initial reaction from those I have spoken with regarding this article is that Millennials are just one age grouping amongst the age range of employees across their organisation.

Further they say that they have people policies that are aligned to organisation needs and longer term strategies.

All very nice I say but globally – and Millennials are a global issue – they will become the largest employee demographic within the next two years. Therefore they are not going away and are already well up the management ladders in organisations of all sizes

My question is what is being done in your organisation to meet the Millennial’s needs?

Are you grasping the opportunity their free thinking brings to your leadership table?

Please let me know your point of view on this issue by emailing me at

Charity Golf Day

Bob playing golf Charity Golf Day group photo

Healthskills Partner Bob Baker helped to run a Charity Golf Day in aid of Parkinsons’ UK and Motor Neurone Disease Association last month and raised over £1000 for the two charities. Healthskills sponsored a hole for Bob who is pictured with his group and teeing off at the Weald of Kent Golf Club and Hotel near Maidstone.

HSJ Top Chief Executives for 2019

The Health Services Journal recently published their Top Chief Executives list for 2019, an annual ranking of the pre-eminent leaders of NHS trusts.  Healthskills is delighted to congratulate the outstanding leaders of the following trusts, all of which we have worked with previously or currently:  Michael Wilson at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust; Rob Webster at South West Yorkshire Partnership FT; Nick Hulme at East Suffolk and North Essex FT; Alwen Williams at Barts Health Trust; Tracy Bullock at Mid Cheshire Hospitals FT; Nick Carver at East and North Herts Trust; Garrett Emmerson at London Ambulance Service Trust; Andrew Ridley at Central London Community Healthcare Trust; Roland Sinker at Cambridge University Hospitals FT; Lesley Watts at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital FT and Owen Williams at Calderdale and Huddersfield FT.  Well done to all!

HSJ Partnership Awards 2019

Had a great night at the HSJ Partnership Awards, with our peers and partners, celebrating effective partnerships with the NHS to improve patients’ lives through innovation and exceptional dedication to top quality service. We are so proud to have been shortlisted with Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for the Best Educational Programme for the NHS award.

Well done to Sussex MSK Partnership (Central), Here (Care Unbound) and Sussex Community FT – a worthy winner with a great, patient centred-project.

HSJ Partnership Awards – Finalist!


What a great start to 2019! We are absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted with Chelsea & Westminster Hospital FT (CWFT) in the ‘Best Educational Programme for the NHS’ 2019 HSJ Partnership Awards for the Leadership Development programme we delivered during 2018.

In partnership with the Learning and Development team at CWFT, the Executive team and focus groups, we designed an ‘Established Leaders Development Programme’ for strategic leaders including senior clinicians.

The Trust initially commissioned 3 cohorts of up to 20 leaders and following the success of the programme, cohorts 8 and 9 will commence in 2019.

We are thrilled that the achievements and hard work of the delivery teams and the participants have been recognised. Well done to all involved.

Click here to see the full case study 

Healthskills clients in the 2019 New Year’s Honours list

In the NHS’s 70th year, we are thrilled to see that two of our Healthskills NHS clients have been recognised in the 2019 New Year’s Honours list, for their tremendous work. Paul Woodrow, Director of Operations at London Ambulance Service has been awarded the OBE for his leading role in coordinating the emergency responses for victims of the London Bridge terror attack and the Grenfell fire. Margaret Kitching, chief nurse for the North Region, NHS England was awarded the MBE for services to nursing. Healthskills sends our warmest regard to both.

2018 HSJ Awards

We are delighted to congratulate Lesley Watts, Chief Executive at Chelsea and Westminster FT on her 2018 HSJ Award as Chief Executive of the Year. The awards judgement said that “Lesley showed truly outstanding, engaging and sensitive leadership of the trust and her work with partner organisations to deliver improved performance and patient outcomes.” Lesley has been a really visible and proactive sponsor of the Healthskills leadership development programme at the Trust, where we have been successfully working with over 100 leaders since 2016. We would also like to congratulate Newham CCG on their award for Community or Primary Care Services Redesign. Healthskills has been a partner with Newham CCG since 2016, supporting talent management and succession planning with development centres, skills training and leadership programmes. We greatly value our collaboration with both organisations and look forward to continued success in the months ahead.