A Question of Morale
Morale is a fickle thing; oft times obscure, not always identifiable, variable in its presence; sometimes wrongly assumed to be in abundance where it is not, and a lot of the time is the silent companion, often unannounced.
It is much more than the “feel good” factor. It is a sense of shared purpose, of professional and personal fulfillment, of belonging to (and defending where necessary) a value system. It is also a sense of shared ownership, of contribution, of being accorded value and, of equal importance, to giving value and esteem, as required. Good morale is a function of good leadership and is the essential cementing process through which excellent service delivery is maintained, often in a frenzied and highly charged environment. It should never be taken for granted. Above all else, it is extremely vulnerable and especially fragile in challenging times and can be badly damaged at the stroke of a pen or by a misplaced utterance.
And so the leadership challenge for today’s managers is as momentous now as it has been for many years past. Ever contracting resources, general moratorium on recruitment, voluntary exit schemes, value for money, increase performance etc. etc., has not dented in any way the capability or the capacity of our health service managers to deliver. What is not seen or sufficiently publicly acknowledged are the many service enhancements, improvements and initiatives delivered by health service managers in recent years. These do not come easily and are a product of good leadership endeavour and a professionalism of which we can be proud. Such achievements would not have been realised in the absence of the specialist and technical knowledge and competencies required to put them in place.
This is core value-territory for health service managers and is worthy of protection and something upon which we can build. The upcoming inaugural HMI annual conference (Farmleigh, 3rd October) is a seminal step in this direction.