Make it personal: developing line-management skills across NHS England

As Line Managers it is too easy to forget the wider responsibility we have for those who work for us or around us. When we truly explore the extent of the shadow we cast it is much more than managing “to do” lists, pay grades and booking holidays – however when the demands on our time are intense, how often does it simply end up as that.

Passe-partout are working with line managers across NHS England to help them develop standards of behaviour that not only support and develop their own personal awareness and professional resilience, but foster the same in those that work with them.

Over 150 line managers across the country have already started the programme, and we expect over 100 more in the coming year. In addition, we have delivered just over 50 one-day workshops over the Winter to share some of the core themes of that programme to a wider range of managers.

This scale of delivery represents a commitment to creating organisational and cultural standards, not just personal development.

It’s good to talk

Organisations have always run on conversations – high quality conversations enable good decisions, effective co-ordination and mutual commitment and understanding.  Evidence suggests that in the current context of constant change, engaging our people in genuine dialogue is becoming more important than ever.

There is certainly no doubting that line managers who are skilful in holding productive conversations develop greater resilience, problem-solving ability and commitment in their teams.

We have been developing engagement with the delegates through structured Coaching Conversations, and group problem solving via Action Learning – in both cases the empowerment is fostered through personal realisation and learning.

The shadow we cast

Since employees tend to take their cues on what is important and how to behave from their leaders and managers, negative behaviour at the top creates negative behaviours far down into the organisation, adversely impacting performance and productivity.

One of the major obligations of leadership and management is integrity between words and deeds!  When managers come into the building and head straight for their offices, head down, not interacting with anyone, that’s the story that gets talked about in the canteen and the corridors, not the speech one of them gave on employee engagement and openness. More powerfully, look at how managers interact with each other. If you want teamwork as a core value across the organisation, it had better happen at the top or you won’t achieve it anywhere in the organisation. If two senior figures don’t support each other, you can forget about cross-departmental support and cooperation.

Making it personal

Throughout these deliveries, we place the individual at the centre of the learning – focussing on what is there’s to change and recognising the innate skills and power that they have to influence in a constructive manner.

And it is from those individuals that we are beginning to see reflected back the real value of this approach:

  • I will take the learning from the two days and discuss with coach/line manager to help shape my action plan
  • Camaraderie and support from others over issues I had shared –real transformation for me
  • It was a good group- and there was a healthy balance of respectful/helpful/diverse/challenging behaviours

And this feedback is being reflected back through senior management structures. The OD directorate and outsource co-ordinator recognise that the relationship between NHSE and PP2 has been one of the most successful to date in the learning space. Also, individual Regional Directors have been feeding back that they’ve been hearing good discussion around the benefit being delivered.


Once again, our approach of placing the individual at the heart of the learning process is producing real return against investment at an organisational level. We recognise that real organisational change occurs person by person. Engagement is born within the hearts and minds of the employees, and it is through the best practice behaviours of line management that the message is disseminated and brought to life.

Passe-partout makes your business personal.