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In todays blog, we hear from the Winners of the Supporting Line Management Award, at the recent Greater Manchester Good Employment Awards.

Guest author Julia Marshall, Group Associate Director of Talent & Organisational Development, shares her thoughts on their recognition and explains how NCA are creating space for change.


Reflecting on being creative under pressure 

The best thing about winning a GM Good Employment Award is the recognition for being creative even under pressure. Actually, on reflection, that is the second-best thing and what we’ve valued the most is being recognised for supporting our line managers.

One of the judges in our award category said what particularly stood out, is that despite the challenges the pandemic has brought to the NHS, our Trust still made time to create and introduce something new for our leaders to help them engage with their colleagues and teams.

So as a leader, how we do we find time and headspace for creativity?

If we put ourselves in the shoes of the leaders who are on the front line, how do they fit creativity into the more urgent and pressing demands of their people and patients?

In the area of Organisational Development, coming up with new ideas can seem easy. Making those ideas so clear and simple that our leaders can easily grasp them and that they can make a real difference is much, much harder.

Creating the conditions for co-creation

In reality, creativity is best done in collaborative and iterative ways and that’s exactly what we did. It’s taken us the best part of a year and a half to create something so simple that it almost seems unnecessary. What makes our High Performing Team Framework and balanced scorecard so special is the hundreds of colleagues who have contributed, and the many hours spent listening and testing our thinking, to make sure that what we deliver in the end is something that will be of value and make a difference.

Even when we think we have all the data and validation we need, it’s good to get that ‘in person’ check-in with our frontline colleagues, to make sure what we are doing is inclusive and meets the needs right across our diverse workforce and colleague groups. A huge thanks goes to all our colleagues at the Northern Care Alliance who made time to talk to us about their experiences.

Enabling leaders to inspire and facilitate local change

In the process of creating the High Performing Team Framework and balanced scorecard and the myriad of associated tools that bring it to life, colleagues have generously contributed their insights, ideas and inspirations as well as providing us with robust feedback.

The end result is a really simple framework of four key areas that every leader, with their teams, needs to pay attention to: Well-led & Managed, People & Learning, Service Excellence, Culture & Wellbeing.

How we found the time to co-create this was by having a clear goal in mind, and that goal was to help our leaders to engage with every one of our colleagues in improving their experience and that of their patients.

The next opportunity lies in sharing what we’ve co-created across our wider network and hoping it helps colleagues across Greater Manchester and perhaps even further afield.

If you’ve enjoyed this piece, you can read related reference material in the article ‘Leadership for the Future: diversity, creativity and co-creation’


Additional Information

The Northern Care Alliance is a NHS Foundation Trust which is a large and complex organisation serving the health, and increasingly, care needs of one million people across Salford, Oldham, Rochdale and Bury within an emerging ‘Integrated Health and Care System’.

Our co-developed ethos of ‘Leadership by All; Development for All’ brings to life our NCA mission ‘Saving Lives; Improving Lives’ by creating a culture of compassionate, inclusive and collectively owned leadership, and by ensuring all of our 20,000 colleagues are supported to fulfil their hopes and ambitions and reach their potential.


The Northern Care Alliance is an NHS Foundation Trust (NCA FT) created by bringing together two NHS Trusts, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. The NCA FT was formally established on 1 October 2021. The NCA has been working together as a group since 2016.