My colleague Roger Cooper has written a blog commenting on the apparent “ripping off” of the NHS by staffing agencies for an estimated £1Bn1 Though it’s written with a workforce focus we recognise that the underlying “intractable problem” is more complex than just about workforce supply and demand.

The big thing is that the power in the employer – employee relationship has substantially shifted to the employee, with people expecting more and more to be treated as you would strategic partners. No longer are employees “lucky to have a job” but are now selecting the organisations they want to work for and have specific criteria for how they want to work2,3,4. There are massive cost implications if organisations get this wrong2,3,4,5!


Figure 1 – Raconteur – Future of Work2

The key driver of organisational transformation is customer experience, followed by innovation, and it’s your employees and teams who deliver this customer experience or develop/deliver the innovations. So beyond the workforce question explored by my colleague other questions appear to be:

  • How do we make our organisations more attractive to current and future high potential employees?
  • How do we make our teams healthy and high performing?


bodyWe use the human body as a metaphor for the organisation. A body is made up of cells, organs, structures, systems etc. Similarly organisations are made up of teams, departments, buildings, IT systems, financial systems etc. For the whole body to be healthy each cell within the body needs to be healthy. In the same way for organisations to be healthy each team needs to be healthy. But what is a healthy team?

Teams are communities of people working together, enabled by various technologies, structures and tools to fulfil the teams purpose and ultimately satisfying customers’ needs, in this case patients. As such we need to begin with the person and recognise their needs to flourish individually and together.

We see people as having four distinct but deeply interconnected dimensions: Mind – including will, values and ethics, Body – including physical body, intellect and skills, Spirit – including personality, attitudes and motivation, and Being – including identity, relationships, beliefs and experiences.


To develop high performing teams we need to start working with individuals as strategic partners not just employees to task! This means treating individuals as a whole person to ensure their mind, body, spirit, and being is engaged and aligned with the work. This way the individual feels they are fulfilling their potential, supporting and feeling supported by the team community, and meeting their life aims while fulfilling the team’s purpose.

As a first step you need to diagnose where the individual and the team is. We advocate having conversations with your team as your people partners, individually and together supported by a toolkit, such as the Healthy Role and Teams Questionnaire, see link below. Through this dialogue you will be able to explore each aspect of an individual as a whole person and the team as a whole system, see exemplars below.



From these conversations you will be able to appreciate the individual and team strengths you can build on and the opportunities to be invested in to develop healthy teams.

However the question remains: how does your organisation make the transformation to healthy high performance teams? Hint: it begins with understanding the team’s purpose and how each individual role is aligned to and meaningfully contributes to fulfilling this purpose. My colleagues and I will be discussing this and our organisation design insights in our Small is Beautiful article series, sign up here.

Benchmark Email

Powered by Benchmark Email

Here’s the link for the Healthy Role and Teams Questionnaire. It will only be available until 31st August. Feel free to complete the questionnaire or get your team to complete it to diagnose how healthy each role and the team is. I will commit to sending you a brief report of your results.

In the meantime if you or your team are at the OD in the NHS III Conference: Forward Thinking Different on 15th July come and see us. Otherwise I would love to welcome your thoughts and experiences, email me on or tweet me on @NickGMRichmond See to learn more.

3 Grant, K. (2012), ‘Skills Utilisation and High Performance Working: An analysis of line manager and employee perceptions’, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Glasgow: Glasgow Caledonian University.