Yorkshire GP practice looks outside for change from within

case study leadership Jun 26, 2019

A Yorkshire GP surgery’s practice management team experienced misunderstandings over roles and responsibilities after a reorganisation. A one-on-one coaching day for the team with Mandala Leaders, requested by the practice’s managing partner, has resolved these issues by helping the team better understand each other’s priorities, ways of working, and how they could better collaborate in a stressful workplace.

With a clearer view of their objectives and how to reach them, the practice management team is driving the surgery’s new business plan. Mandala Leaders’ coaching session was surprising for the two team members because it guided them to their own realisation of what needed to change - rather than simply telling them what was good for them.    

Confusion over management roles hold back busy GP practice

As GP surgeries across Britain are pushed to their limits meeting care demands from an ageing population, PracticeOne in Bridlington – a Yorkshire seaside resort with the third oldest age profile of any community in Britain – has dug deeper than most to reinforce its crucial team ethic.  

Key practice managers’ roles and duties became confused after the surgery was reorganised. PracticeOne managing partner Tom Milligan saw that running a 6,000-patient surgery prevented fresh thinking or finding ways for colleagues to play to each other’s strengths. 

He asked Mandala Leaders, a consultancy dedicated to transforming the life of an organisation and the communities it serves, to provide one-on-one coaching - to improve the two very busy colleagues’ mutual understanding and refocus the way they went about their work. 

Practice manager Jan Peacock, responsible for practice’s administration of NHS funding and reimbursement, and deputy practice manager Andrew Voase, focusing on staff administration as well as practice funding and incentives were finding overlaps in their duties. There were also increasing misunderstandings over how best to run the surgery’s busy front office. 

Managing partner Tom Milligan set Mandala Leaders three tough targets for the coaching day: restore team trust, clarify the mutual support needed for their roles and responsibilities, and enlist both team members in preparing an outline business plan for the practice.  “If we could get a joint approach to the plan, I knew we would solve things,” explains Tom Milligan.

Fresh thinking from within

The Mandala team organised a single day coaching session, focused entirely on the two practice management team members and their needs. Dispensing with classroom-style teaching, Mandala consultants Nick Bradley and Daniel Frohwein began with a series of exercises to build greater trust between Jan and Andrew. They followed with sessions that explored the pair’s approach to each other, their methods and how they ran the practice.

Despite being a graduate and a recipient of training throughout her career, this time Jan Peacock found herself being challenged rather than taught: “I’d never been on a course like it. The emphasis was on what we thought our role was and why or how we came to be where we were.  Nick and Daniel didn’t tell us things, they guided us to our own conclusions.”

Andrew, a graduate in both business studies and of the Iceland group’s leadership training, also found himself in new territory. “It was an eye-opener. We didn’t do ‘classroom’ learning; Daniel and Nick focused on finding out about us and how we’d got there.  The coaching exceeded expectations because it asked us to take responsibility for changing the way we and our team as a whole worked. Everything came from within, not from external pressure.”

A refocused practice management team and sharper administration

Jan and Andrew returned to Bridlington after Mandala coaching with a far better appreciation of each other’s role, approach and skills, and how to drive the practice’s commercial plans. The practice management duo now work more closely; colleagues have noticed greater harmony in staff meetings, rotas and dealing with patients, suppliers and between the two themselves.

The coaching has added wider, longer-term value for PracticeOne.  “I focus better on priorities rather than simply trying to get through emails and calls,” says Jan Peacock. “I’ve found a way to step back and think things through more effectively.”

Andrew Voase says he has clearer approach to his work: “The coaching helped us get together and understand each other’s approach. The whole exercise was totally different from what we had assumed would happen.”

The improved team work has delivered a focused and happier workplace, with PracticeOne playing a key part of the NHS East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group being shortlisted for the well-known Health Service Journal 2016 awards for its contribution to closer working between GP groups and local council on public health.

Tom Milligan appreciates the rapid way that acceptance of change was instilled in his practice by Mandala’s consultants: “As a GP, my whole business is about behavioural change. For any attendees to grasp the need for change, they’ve got to feel equal with the course leader and themselves.  Mandala Leaders’ coaching clearly rebuilt trust and empathy between two crucial members of staff.  They gave Jan and Andrew a real opportunity to sort things out and release their true potential.”

To find out how we can help you improve your leadership style take a look at our online course, Zero to Authentic Hero.

About the Author

Nick Bradley, Founder & CEO of Mandala Leaders, is a successful businessman having worked in investment banking and management consultancy for 30 years. He is also a deep personal work facilitator who has a passion for inspiring individuals and businesses to achieve their purpose. He has travelled to support companies throughout Europe and the US and his skills have been geared to both leading and supporting individuals and teams through times of crisis and then to travel that hard path to create growth and success both personally and professionally.

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