I remember some top businessman from the time saying that anyone in business must ‘get about their business’. How true. I was telling a client about this last week, and he pointed out that we are both very lucky - we get direct feedback from our clients/patients every day. We may not always welcome it, but it is there, and we can learn a lot from listening.
By contrast, I was watching TV and caught an advert for a well known bank boasting that their managers spend two whole days a years with customers. Now I heard that as two whole days in total, and I may have got that wrong (in which case it is a lousy advert) but two days is hopeless.
It reminded my of some of the key points that came out of the report into the Mid Staffs hospital failures. It seems managers never visited the wards, when they heard there were problems, rather than going to see what is happening, they commissioned reports from third parties, and when the problems persisted they just stopped listening, and they could do so because they did not physically go to see the problems and see the patients.
How many times since do we hear failing managers saying they need to listen more? If that’s a lesson that is being learned, it makes you wonder how they got the job.
General practice is at risk of the same bad management style, more is being centralised in regions remote from the practices they serve. In 10 years’ time will we have some manager or minister earnestly saying that they need to listen more?
Perhaps the hard or hearing (or learning) should be reminded that there is an offence of misconduct in public office. May be an incentive to ‘get about your business’.
- Laurence Slavin is a partner with Ramsay Brown and Partners Chartered Accountants who specialise in the finances of GPs.