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NHS Employers: ‘We must attract, retain and develop talent’ #pmot


Talent management refers to the process of developing and integrating new workers, developing and retaining current workers, and attracting highly skilled workers to work for your company’.

Some people argue that many organisations put tremendous efforts into attracting employees, but spend little time in retaining and developing talent. Some would also argue that the NHS doesn’t do enough to attract the right people. More often than not, nurses, doctors and front line staff are allocated to pick up professional non-clinical roles like that of Project Managers or Programme Managers. Front-line staff are very good resources to have working on NHS project such as ‘end of life care programmes’, ‘dementia programmes’ or ‘diabetes/obesity projects’, which require subject matter expert. But what about specialist-trained professionals with Project/Programme qualifications?That is, professionals who may not know the ins and outs of the ‘subject’ but know how to plan, implement, run and close a project effectively, on time and to budget?

As a result of the NHS Employers’ annual conference, Leading Workforce Thinking 2009  – NEC Birmingham, NHS Employers have produced a briefing document for NHS organisations to learn from good practice across the public sector and get started on their own talent management plans.  

Key points

  • The NHS needs to identify and develop talent at every level of the organisation to meet future challenges.
  • A focus on developing talent at all levels will send the right message to staff, who are critical to delivering the vision of high quality care for all.
  • We need to look at what the best organisations, globally, are doing to make the most of their talent and keep the door open to new talent through the recession.
  • Talent management tactics that focus on in-house development are compatible with tighter budgets and the drive for quality and efficiency.
  • Board-level directors should take personal responsibility for ensuring a strategic approach to talent management across their organisation.
  • Line managers should be the owners of talent management initiatives and will need proper support to make them effective.
  • Demographic and legislative pressures mean the NHS must consider diversity as part of any talent management strategy. 

Generally it’s easier to name failed projects than successes. Earlier this year the Channel 4 documentary DispatchesHow They Squander Our Billions” [09.03.09] investigated a variety of controversial public projects which have had millions, if not billions, spent on them including the NHS National Programme for IT [NPfIT] which was originally announced as costing £2.3bn. This later grew to £6.2bn and £12.7bn is the latest estimate.

Projects Fail and they fail often

  • 31.1% of IT Projects will be cancelled before completion
  • 52.7% of completed projects cost over their original estimates
  • 1 in 8 – the number of projects that can be considered successful

Chaos Report by the Standish Group

Why do Projects Fail? 

  1. Inadequately trained and/or inexperienced PM’s
  2. Failure to set and manage expectations
  3. Poor leadership at any and all levels

One of the most likely reasons for project failure is inadequately trained Project Manager(s).  The implication is that project failure is controllable and avoidable and that the Project Manager has a great deal of responsibility and accountability. They need the authority to do their job properly and will have the most significant impact on the outcome of a project.

This takes us straight back to Talent Management: If the NHS spent more time and resources in attracting the ‘right’ candidates, NHS Projects would have a much higher likelihood of success. Why don’t admin staff perform operations or ward cleaners help patients – because they’re not qualified to do so!

Leave me a comment and let me know what your thoughts are.

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About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay Scott
Director of Arras People, the programme and project management recruitment specialists. You can find out more about Arras People and follow me on Twitter and Google

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