Yesterday was the first major visit by a head office team since the ownership of Gwersyllt Dental Practice was transferred to the staff by the owner Phil Guest just under 6 weeks ago.
I attended with Kevin Rose and Mark Oborn and we spent the whole day with our new colleagues. Our first task was to gauge the mood of the team in terms of how they were feeling about the process that had started.
One concern that came across was that there was a fear that we would be coming in to impose targets both in terms of growth of the top line and also in making savings. They were reassured to realise that this was not the case. Employee ownership (EO) in healthcare is about the health and well being of all the staff and their patients for the long term. My job as Managing Partner is to work for the employees (including myself) to secure the long term future for all of us. One of the fundamental principles of Future Health Partnership (FHP) is that this business can never be sold and will be there for the benefit of all the current and future employees in perpetuity.
One of our first tasks is to get across to the team what EO is and how it works. Thus the initial critical phase is to engage with them to show that what we are doing is not imposing ourselves as a corporate whose primary goal is to satisfy a small number of people and/or shareholders at the top tree but to help them understand that this is about them, their patients and both of their futures.
A second concern was that we hadn’t done anything and to an extent they were in the dark as to what was happening. In effect, their thoughts were “let’s get on with it” (whatever it is! ). I was happy with this as we had probably reassured them that their first fear (above) hadn’t happened and now they were itching to get going. To clarify, what FHP and EO is about is accepting the practice as it currently is and then understanding the dynamic of what it means for the ownership to have passed from the previous owner to all the staff.
What does this mean in reality? What happens? Who runs the practice? Who makes the decisions?
It is important to realise that nothing will initially change until they understand that they, collectively, own, discuss and make decisions about the future. Thus our first exercise was to ask them to put themselves in the shoes of their patients and ask them to consider if they were patients what they would like to see, hear or experience when attending or communicating with the practice. A strong theme that came out was that they would like to see happy, smiling staff. That was great because we are those staff and that is certainly what we want to be and certainly what one of our primary goals is all about.
More to follow in my next blog……