The NHS is hoping to improve the quality of its senior management with a service-wide management development initiative.
The National Management Development Initiative (NMDI) will be rolled out to every strategic health authority throughout 2005.
The Surrey and Sussex Strategic Health Authority, one of the organisations already piloting the NMDI, said coaching will be at the centre of its approach to the initiative.
According to Jonathan Harding, head of leadership at the authority, not only is coaching more effective than course-based learning, it is also cheaper.
The authority will invest £150,000 in developing the coaching system, which will train 90 coaches and include 90 staff for them to coach, he said.
Those taking part in the programme, called Leadership for Service Improvement, include senior managers, chief executives and senior clinical staff.
Each will get to choose their own coach, usually a peer within the organisation. Consultancy Lane4 is running a series of performance workshops to develop the skills of the coaches.
Each participant will choose an improvement objective in line with their organisation’s goals.
“It is all about improving the patient experience and improving access,” Harding said. “We are not forcing what the project should be – it is important that participants are allowed to make a choice.”
However, there is no plan to claw back the time coaches spend with the participants, he said. “My view is that management of an individual, and improving their ability to coach, is part of the job,” he said. “It is not extra to individuals’ jobs.”