The Joint Appointments Guide 2014: An updated guide to setting up, managing and maintaining joint appointments between health organisations and local government in Scotland

This is a second edition of the Scottish Guide, updated (in 2013) to relect the current legislative context.

Strategic Planning for a Joint Appointment

Critical Success Factors

1. Early planning
2. Clear strategic purpose

The OPM research found that the most successful joint appointments were those where partner organisations had taken the time to build a strategic framework for the joint appointment, thinking very carefully about what the joint appointment could (and, just as importantly, could not) be expected to deliver - see the table opposite.

The history of collaborative working between partner organisations will help to ensure that appropriate support is in place to support the joint appointment. The governance arrangements will need to be clear and well organised in order to support the joint appointment in the new partnership arrangements.

Good practice note

Organisations have been working in collaboration for some time and may be familiar with the critical success factors in planning for joint appointments. However, the developing legislative framework for integrating health and social care will require robust mechanisms to support a planning process potentially involving accountability to more than one governance structure and performance management arrangements operating at different levels.

A joint appointment itself should not be the first or only experience that partners have of working together to achieve a shared objective. If the joint appointment is the first or only experience of real collaboration it will be even more important to construct a partnership mechanism to support the appointment. This need not be an elaborate or overly burdensome structure. In some cases it has simply been an agreement that senior managers in partner organisations will come together at regular intervals to ensure that the joint appointment is achieving its strategic objectives and that the collaboration is influencing and shaping the agendas of partners.

Making joint appointments

What do you want your joint appointment to provide? What will your joint appointment not be? What won’t it be able to deliver?
  • A vehicle for achieving joint outcomes between organisations
  • A visible link between organisations; a bridge-builder or sector ‘champion’ in another organisation
  • A way of adding value to existing organisations and resources
  • A logical next step emerging from an existing commitment to joint working
  • A mechanism for building continuity across an area of expertise crossing two organisations
  • A link to negotiate change and deepen integration between organisations
  • A channel for communications between organisation and user/ communities
  • A support for joint planning and prioritising activity between organisations
  • A challenge to institutional barriers to joint working
  • The demonstration of leadership for the partnership
  • Presenting the partnership to other organisations.
  • An inter-organisational gobetween/ the sole channel for communication
  • Someone who ‘does it all’
  • Able to influence or shape organisational culture or ways of working without support
  • A separate initiative to manage
  • A tool of just one partner organisation
  • A single post requiring the skills, time and budget of two workers, overwhelming in the breadth of its remit
  • Expected to create partnership working where none currently exists
  • Expected to repair damaged or fragile partnerships
  • A ‘bolt-on’ post.

Critical Success Factor 1: Early planning

At the very early stages there should be a significant amount of senior level planning for the post. In the absence of such planning, the joint appointee is likely to find him/herself spending valuable time and energy trying to scale organisational boundaries.

'After I was employed, it became obvious that there wasn't much clarity between the organisations about what I should be doing. I spent a lot of time in the first six months just helping to build a shared understanding. With hindsight, this should have been done before I was appointed.'

'The big lesson for us has been about building in enough time for planning and thinking between the partners ahead of the formal recruitment and appointment process. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that agreeing the funding is the central thing. In reality this is the easy part - much harder is agreeing the purpose and objectives, managing multiple accountabilities, developing proper management arrangements and building effective support.'

Critical Success Factor 2: Clear strategic purpose

In this early planning process, the relevant managers in all partner organisations will need to give thought to what the post is expected to deliver. Partner organisations need to think about the role of the joint appointment both in terms of furthering their own organisation's objectives and in terms of building the partnership and furthering shared objectives between organisations.

Good practice note

It's never too late to do the early planning. Even in the most successful or well-established of joint appointments, it makes sense for partners to revisit the early questions of purpose, objectives and so on from time to time.

For joint appointments experiencing difficulties, the diagram may help to identify the parts of the process that need further attention, e.g. is the difficulty about the strategic framework for the appointment?; is it about the need to build in more 'sustaining' interventions?; is the problem how you are developing the appointment or how you are developing the partnership as a whole?; and so on.

This process is important in itself, but there needs to be shared ownership of the role at senior level, i.e. the rationale for the post must be grounded in each organisation and seen as contributing to each organisation's objectives.

'Partner agencies have got to be clear why the post is being set up and should have a stake in developing it. The job spec and objectives should all be based on consensus. If they don't take on joint ownership they won't take on joint responsibility!'

The research indicated that the most seamless and successful joint appointments were those that have emerged as a logical next step in a longer history of partnership working and the purpose, objectives and strategic benefits for the partners are clear. In these cases the joint appointment was usually established and managed under existing partnership arrangements. Using existing partnership arrangements helped to locate the joint appointment in the context of other partnership working.

If a new mechanism needs to be created to provide a strategic steer to the joint appointment it is important that it involves members from all partner organisations, of sufficient seniority in terms of strategic decision-making, who will represent the commitment of each organisation to both the partnership and the joint appointment. This group should set the strategic direction, agree objectives and targets and monitor progress. It should also ensure that the infrastructure of line management and support for the appointment is in place.


Email: Kate Thomas

Back to top