Communication and empathy critical to stakeholder engagement

Gurjit Degun
5 March 2014

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5 March 2014 | Gurjit Degun

Making the most of your soft skills, such as communicating, listening and empathy, is crucial when dealing with stakeholders, the deputy director of procurement at Barts Health NHS Trust has said.

Tracey Leforte also said taking price out of the equation in these discussions had helped her deliver significant savings for the trust. She was speaking at the eWorld Purchasing & Supply conference in London yesterday.

The trust was created in April 2012 following a merger of Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust in Leytonstone, Newham University Hospital NHS Trust in Plaistow and Barts and The London NHS Trust.

Leforte said her team has delivered £750,000 savings when working with clinicians to replace five hip and knee suppliers with one. “It worked because we engaged, listened, sympathised and used all the soft skills available to show that the clinicians had total say in the final decision,” explained Leforte. “If they felt the only decision was going to be on price we would never have got that final decision so we took price away from that.”

During the project, Leforte also had to support her team through the merger. “We had to keep them happy. How do you keep morale going? Again, we had to listen, empathise and support them,” she said.

“This is where the soft skills come in because if we didn’t listen, and we didn’t understand, how would they support that project? We would have had such low morale and low self-esteem that we couldn’t possibly deliver on that project.”

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