COVID-19 Update: Jan 2022

It is not uncommon within teams working under significant pressure for relational and behavioural challenges to emerge. When unattended to, these can lead to further breakdowns in trust, teamwork, and the ability to work effectively as a service. The pandemic has certainly thrown up some significant pressure for all teams!

Staff College has long utilised our approach to help leaders understand the nature of these difficulties, encouraging them to do something about it.

We have continued to support teams throughout the pandemic. Utilising a blend of virtual development sessions, observing teams’ real virtual meetings and facilitating process reviews, team coaching and introducing key models to support effective team working. We have been switching between face to face and virtual delivery dependent on the local covid case load, pressure on services and national/local restrictions.

We have and will continue to support our colleagues in the health service as and when needed throughout this period.

You can find out more about how we’re supporting teams here.

We support Boards and teams working at a variety of levels within health. Sometimes this might be for just a short one-off programme to help them develop their team cohesion and capability when they become a new team, or it may be a longer programme to support them as they lead complex change.

We work with senior leadership teams and our initial engagement is often due to a team wishing to ‘improve’ in some way. This includes element that are:


A new team wishing to get off to a good start by developing good practices in both the content and process of their work.


An existing team that wishes to go from ‘good to great’ or feels it needs to ‘shift into a higher gear’ to meet new/increased demands.


A team that is not functioning the way it wants or needs to due to one or more historical/current issues.

Senior leaders are often engaged in wicked problems. We define these as highly complex problems to which there is no obvious or neat solution. Therefore, our focus is on the processes of leadership and how people find a way through persistent, and often stubborn, areas of concern.

We believe that the ‘process’ or ‘the way that people go about doing a task’ needs to be understood and led so that the actual task itself can be accomplished to the best of a groups’ ability.

Who are bespoke programmes for?

We work with a variety of Boards and teams working in healthcare. The below are a few examples of the types of groups we currently work with:

• Boards of acute hospitals
• Sustainability and Transformation Partnership Boards and leadership teams
• Boards of transformation programmes across acute and primary care
• Hospital Leadership Teams
• Senior Commissioning Teams
• Hospital Service Teams following or pre mergers or re-structuring

Our approach

A key element of the course is that the team works on real issues and not case study material. However, unlike management consultancies, we are not here to provide the solutions to the challenges the team faces. Our role is to provide the environment, support and challenge necessary for the team to be able to decide and agree their own processes and work towards solutions to their problems. The team are the subject matter experts, and for there to be longer term change, they must own their solutions.

The work will involve a series of exercises and challenges with ‘straight talking’ feedback that develops self-awareness, an appreciation of the impact on others and the ability to differentiate helpful and unhelpful patterns of behaviour.

By helping a group gain better insight into how they currently work together, we can then provide the necessary support and challenge to help them work better together.

It is worth noting that this way of working can involve high levels of self-disclosure and emotionally stirring material so if this could be an issue for members of the team it is important to discuss this at the diagnostic phase.

Programmes normally consist of a mixture of:

Process observations – to raise awareness of group dynamic and structural issues
• patterns of contribution
• who gets listened to/ignored
• how decisions get made or avoided
• how people prioritise their attention i.e. sticking to the primary task vs. drifting into other areas
• how conflict is dealt with or suppressed
• the structure of the agenda – does ‘form follow function’?
• the nature of different roles in the group
• the use of time and space

Process interventions –
commenting on the groups work in the ‘here and now’

Taught material –
useful ideas and techniques to improve group functioning

Generative sessions
• group members getting to know each other better
• working on mission/purpose
• working on strategy and planning

Reparative sessions (where necessary):
• resolving conflict
• learning from difficult experiences
• improving poor behaviour patterns

Hear how others have found Staff College bespoke programmes for their organisations

Sir Sam Everington, Chair of Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and GP, shares his experience of working with Staff College to develop bespoke programmes to support transformation programmes he’s been involved in. In his case study he talks about the impact the programme has had for him personally, as well as for the wider transformation programme.

Read Sam’s case study

We’ve been working with an Integrated Discharge Team to help them develop a collective vision for how they want their service to be in the future.

Find out what difference the programme made for members of the team

“Staff College is more than a programme, it is a lever for cultural change in leadership with profound power to help us achieve the quality of care our patients need and the quality of working life our staff deserve. Being part of the program and taking my board team through the program is an integral part of our leadership journey that has, is and will, deliver substantial returns for the investment. Join us – it’s worth it!”

Medical Director, NHS FT

“The Staff College approach is so potent because it brings together a focus on achievable outcomes that groups willingly hold themselves to account for, applying leadership theory, and group and personal behavioural change, reflection and growth. All of which is achieved with creativity and respect.”  

Sustainability and Transformation Programme Director