Coaching an NHS Manager for free

92 - Paul WicksHello, my name is Paul Wicks and I am Vice President of Innovation at PatientsLikeMe.

I first discovered NHS Change Day at the 2014 NHS Innovation Expo, and whilst there I made my pledge: ‘I pledge to offer free coaching to an NHS manager’.

I had the opportunity to put my own pledge into practice when I met with Pollyanna Jones, a NHS hospital manager at King’s College Hospital, where I had trained years earlier. She asked me whether I might be able to volunteer some time coaching her, and as luck would have it I’d just completed an intensive training course and was looking for volunteers!

Coaching is essentially a series of conversations that aim to maximize the resourcefulness of the person being coached. It’s a bit different from mentoring or providing advice in that it starts from the assumption that people are inherently resourceful and that what’s worked in the past for me might not be the same solution that might work for her, so it’s important that the coachee formulate and own their own approach.

Luckily for me Pollyanna is already an outstanding achiever, having been recognized as an HSJ Rising Star and being a leader involved in Change Day herself.

Since making the pledge we’ve met regularly on the phone and in person to problem-solve, reflect on challenges she’s experienced, find new opportunities for personal development, and navigate the complex career path of a pressured NHS. She’s recently transitioned to being the Major Trauma Manager for Cambridge, and as a desk-bound data-nerd I can’t imagine the practical and emotional complexities she must deal with every day, but I know that she has the tools and skills to affect the lives of thousands of people cared for by the NHS, so anything I can do to support her is worthwhile. Pollyanna has been tremendously thoughtful in all of our sessions and I look forward to them greatly each month – in truth I’ve probably gained more from the experience than I’ve contributed!


92 - Pollyanna JonesHello, my name is Pollyanna Jones and I am manager of the major trauma centre for the East of England.

I’ve been involved with NHS Change Day since the start. Through Change Day I have been involved in recruiting and coaching the hubbies: the front line volunteers who make mass action a reality. I was supported on how to deliver this coaching by the Horizons Group, but I felt I needed more coaching support myself: someone to help me explore my own resourcefulness in the work place.

I always like to take on a challenging job, but sometimes being an NHS manager can seem isolating. It’s hard to have the confidence to know what to do next, to act on the learning from the scheme and to manage the tough day to day situations I face. So when I heard Paul’s pledge to offer free coaching I jumped at the chance.

Paul’s coaching sessions are phenomenal: he really listens and offers sound advice. Helping me navigate through different career choices, decide what to do next when I am dealing with a new situation at work or just listening when I have tied myself in knots. He offers more than advice, his coaching provides me with a degree of questioning which enables me to get there on my own. Through working with him, I have started to gain the confidence to emerge as a NHS manager in my own right, to realise the career is based on skills and that we can really offer something to the NHS.
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