The 6 Skill Sets of a Successful Primary Care Network Manager
Updated: Jun 15
I am often asked what are the skills required of a Primary Care Network (PCN) Manager.
The job of a Primary Care Network Manager requires both hard and soft skills in this fast-paced operational and strategic role.
I believe there are 6 core skills required to take your performance to the next level, which may not be found in the typical PCN Manager job description.
I have also included resources to enhance your leadership and business acumen and provide:
11 course recommendations
5 book recommendations
3 podcast recommendations
Let's get started!
Here are my 6 core skills required to take your performance to the next level
1. Become A Master Facilitator
The role of a PCN Manager requires the individual to be a master facilitator.
They are the person that the clinical lead will look to for support and guidance. They proactively interpret the needs and actions to make things happen so that the clinical lead is not trying to do everything themselves.
A PCN Manager may find themselves chairing a meeting, negotiating a contract and managing tensions between network staff.
This means they need to be a confident communicator, effective in gaining consensus and leading people to an outcome.
2. Practice resourcefulness
The role of a PCN Manager is there to drive things forward and develop solutions.
If the network spends too long on a topic where they see no progress, people will become frustrated and will disengage.
The PCN Manager must always be thinking;
What can we do?
What resources can I pull on?
Which connections can help me?
What quick wins can we point people towards to buy a bit of time before developing a more long-term solution?
Also, my friend Ben Gowland who hosts the General Practice Podcast often describes the role of the PCN Manager, as somebody that is good at turning vague ideas and bits and pieces of information into something great without anybody telling them to do it.
The most successful PCN Managers need to be good at proactively listening, clarifying their understanding, identifying the need, and building processes and relationships.
3. Channel an intrapreneurial spirit
It will often feel like there will never be enough time or resources within networks as the system is under so much demand. Because of this, it is productive to look at things through an intrapreneurial lens:
What resources can be utilised?
What business development opportunities can we capitalise on?
What strategic partnerships could we create?
How can we make things more efficient?
The term intrapreneurship refers to a system that allows an employee to act like an entrepreneur within a company or other organisation.
Intrapreneurs are self-motivated, proactive, and action-oriented people who take the initiative to pursue an innovative product or service.
4. Build your resilience
I wasn't sure whether I should keep this section in this blog, but I would be dishonest to omit it.
With so many people in the network, there may be varying levels of understanding of the value that a PCN manager can bring; you may experience some crap days. Let's not sugarcoat it! Every job does.
When you experience a knockback;
Seek to understand their point of view
Take a breath and create some space
Review your actions and see if there is any room for improvement
Address the situation
And a note to Clinical Directors…support and protect your Manager!
5. Proactively build your skill set
I read so many business books. Here are some of my personal favourites that have helped me in my role as a PCN Manager:
For those of you who like podcasts, The HBR podcasts feature authors, academics and business people who share their work. I get A LOT of ideas from this podcast.
There are so many entrepreneurial and leadership lessons, change management approaches, quality improvement techniques, and productivity tools created by people with more or different experiences than ourselves.
Without being rude, my mind boggles when I ask other managers, what you are reading? What are you listening to? And they say nothing.
I have also completed the following courses which may be of interest to you.
A short course on population health via the Institute of Healthcare Management
If you ever see the opportunity to participate in the Time for Care PCN Improvement Leads programme. I can not recommend this enough but at the time of writing this blog, applications are currently closed
PCC offer a host of courses
The PMA has lots of courses which will aid a PCN Manager. I have personally invested in the Leadership and Management Diploma for a member of my team
The National Association offer a Diploma in Advanced Primary Care Management
London South Bank University have a programme titled Leading Primary Care Networks and Collaborations
For those of you looking for post-graduate options
The MBA Collaborative Leadership looks good
I have completed an MBA in Healthcare Leadership and Management and I highly recommend this. I studied this at Canterbury Christ Church University
There are lots of options to choose from.
6. Build your understanding of how to execute a boundary-spanning role
There is an academic paper titled, "We are all boundary spanners now" published by Cardiff, Metropolitan University, School of Management. When I read this paper, I was working as a Business Development Manager at a University in the Faculty of Health, studying for my MBA.
This paper PERFECTLY describes the skills required for a PCN Manager and for anyone leading across multiple organisations or departments.
The paper talks about:
The need to secure political and social legitimacy.
The role of a reticulist, which is somebody that possesses skills in creating services and manipulating communication networks.
The importance of managing relationships between different sources of power using diplomacy.
Promoting consensus-seeking behaviour.
If you are a Primary Care Network Manager or PCN Clinical Director, PLEASE download and read this paper.
As a result of reading this blog, what one step can you make to enhance your professional development?
If you liked this blog please check our PCN Resources Page for more practical advice to support the role of the PCN Manager or start with the blogs below.
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Im Tara, I am the founder of THC Primary Care, an award-winning healthcare consultancy specialising in Primary Care Network Management and the host of the Business of Healthcare Podcast.
I have over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sectors.
I have managed teams across multiple sites and countries, I have an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, Im published in the London Journal of Primary Care and am the author of over 200 blogs.
I have 3 children. My eldest has Asthma, my middle child has a kidney condition called Nephrotic Syndrome and my youngest daughter has Type 1 Diabetes, so outside of work, healthcare plays a huge role in my life.