Thinking OT

Thoughts from Harrison Training and the occupational therapy world

Archive for the ‘Leadership and Management’ Category

Challenge What I Think

leave a comment »

Changing What We Think

I thought was going to write about the NHS Confedration’s consultation paper, and looking in particular at the consortia that service purchasers, previously known as GPs, will be obliged to join.  I might get onto that later.

Instead I got distracted by a curious search that has come up on the blog stats.  It read;

“Challenge what I think”

Someone had searched for “Challenge what I think” and Google, in its infinite algorithmic wisdom sent them here.

That set in motion a chain of thought.  How readily do we open ourselves to being challenged in what we think?

The two topics are not entirely disconnected.  The angle I was contemplating on NHS reform was that it is easy to get stuck in resistance, anger and opposition.  We might rail against the system on the basis that it is

  • Wasteful
  • A broken promise
  • Unnecessary
  • Politically motivated
  • Unworkable
  • Meddling
  • Unwelcome change

or we can recognise that the march of this reform is inevitable.  Once we do that then the challenge is not to change the system or the political tide, but to look to ourselves and change how we are going to respond to it and engage with that change.

Note the word “Respond” as opposed to “React”

For those who are employed within the NHS, then we need to consider our roles within our teams.  How can we bring greater value, not just in pounds and pence, but in contribution?  What skills can we tap into to make our contributions more meaningful?

This has motivated the previous posts about self-effectiveness, or self leadership.  How can we position ourselves as being central to a team’s effectiveness, but not in a destructive way that undermines others, but constructively, helping to support and improve the whole.

For independent practitioners, how are you going to position yourselves in order to market your services to a larger number of smaller purchasers?  What do you need to do to demonstrate utility, effectiveness and ensure (to use the current buzzword) improved outcomes.

The current uncertainty needs us to remain adaptable.  It might mean getting to grips with social media – and the momentum that is now seen within social media and occupational therapy is very exciting.

It might mean, depending on how the consultation goes, that we need to be much more commercial in selling ourselves.

For some, let’s be realistic, it might mean looking for new roles altogether.

All of this needs us to be open to be challenged about the way we think.

We need to break the well worn patterns of X leads to Y and therefore Z applies. Experience shapes our responses so that if we find ourselves facing a situation we anticipate the outcome will the same as last time.  That can often drive how we respond.

And yet the outcome, to some extent, is shaped by our intervening response.  What if we choose, therefore, a different response?

What options have we got to select from?

What responses have we not tried previously and how might they serve us, and our service users and clients, better?

What new responses can we create for ourselves?

For more on this consider the issue of heuristics – there is a good summary on Wikipedia, right here.

Advertisements

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Absenteeism?

with one comment

Upon reading through our Twitter account this morning, I spotted this comment from Alyson Fennemore

How Much Does Absenteeism Cost Organisations? What About The NHS?

Reading the summary  report from XpertHR reveals that the cost of absenteeism within the public sector is “significantly higher” than in the private sector.

That is perhaps no surprise.

Further reading around the issue suggests that represents about 6 days sick leave every year in the private sector, per employee.

An earlier article, from the same source, puts public sector absenteeism, in 2009, at a whopping 9.7 days per year.

That might be a surprise.  Many people will read that and think “I haven’t been sick in years.”  Others are less fortunate though and find their working life and aspirations beset with absence.

I have recently been presenting to several NHS teams for Harrison Training, both to OT and mixed discipline teams, and they are invariably affected with absenteeism.

I’ll write later about how absenteeism ties in with the current economic climate.

I would love to hear, in the comments below, how absenteeism impacts upon your teams and your own ability to carry out your work effectively.

And what is your answer to the problem?

Thanks to Alyson for providing the original link in her tweet.

Written by harrisontraining

July 8, 2010 at 9:35 am

The Emergency Budget and the Need For Effective Leadership

leave a comment »

The press are becoming increasingly frenzied as they build up to the new coalition government’s emergency budget next week.

The news is  – cuts, deeper than ever, no-one gets out alive and the like.

There can be no doubt that the health service will be challenged, along with everyone else.  Resources will become increasingly stretched.  These are going to be testing times.  The question is; how are we, and our teams going to respond?

Many will be feeling despair and fear.  For many of us the spectre of work cuts might be very real.

The climate is ripe for self destructive behaviour.

People clamour to make themselves indispensible so that if the axe falls it will not fall upon them.  This in turn can lead to an individualistic approach which is ill suited to healthcare provision.  Organisations experience politicisation of teams, where individuals look to recruit alliances, mutual support and canvass for themselves and their chosen candidates.

Gossip, rumour and finger pointing can increase just as morale decreases.

And yet this is a time that calls for leadership on both an individual and a team level.

How will we discipline ourselves so that we do not fall into the above patterns of behaviour?

Will we get support?  Consider personal coaching or, at the very least, reading some books that might help – Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of Highly Effective People is a world leader.  If some of the contents seem cheesy and clichéd then that is only because it is the leading book in its field.  It is only cheesy in the same way that Romeo and Juliet is.

How we govern ourselves, in a responsible and principled fashion, will enable us to remain focussed upon our roles and goals as we travel through the turbulence ahead.

The qualities and skills we develop as individual position quite naturally to be considered for future leadership roles.  What is more, leadership is not only a question of appointment or job title.  It is a question of character, skills, restraint and behaviours.  Many of those can be learnt.

If you can keep your head and hopes, keep your dreams and orientation true, then you will keep heading in the right direction, come what may.  Hopefully you will take others with you, both colleagues and those we are providing services to.

If we can help with leadership, conflict or team communications training then please do get in touch with us at Harrison Training or speak to us at the conference next week.

Challenging How We Think About OT – “Occupational Therapy Without Borders”

leave a comment »

As I was reading through recently updated blogs from the OT blogs I follow, I came across this post from Salford University’s blog.

This line, in particular, caught my attention;

“An hour of so spent chatting with Frank Kronenberg (a newly appointed Honorary Professor at Salford) has possibly turned much about how we think of our profession on its head – but that´s for another post – we need time to reflect and assimilate before going public with this very radical view!”

Curious?  I know I am.

Frank Kronenberg is the co-editor of the book; “Occupational Therapy Without Borders. Learning From The Spirit of Survivors”

You can click through to Amazon for more details, but the description reads;

“This book challenges occupational therapists, members of a still small and rather invisible profession, to more fully realize the profession’s social vision of a more just society where disability, old age, and other marginalizing conditions and experiences are addressed by involving people in helping themselves to (re)gain the capacity and power to construct their own destinies through their participation in daily life. The book will explore the new idea of occupational apartheid – the separation between those who have meaningful, useful occupations and those who are deprived of, isolated from, or otherwise constrained in their daily life.”

There is only one review but it is very positive stating that “OT Without Borders is a really refreshing OT book. It really explores OT out of the usual settings, and isn’t bogged down in the usual ‘what do we do?’, ‘does anyone know what we do?’, ‘does anyone care???!'”

Quite a rallying cry for the profession and if Frank Kronenberg is continuing to develop these thoughts then it may well present a challenge to how occupational therapists perceive their role and identity.

If you have read the book, let us know your thoughts.

Social Media in Clinics and Hospitals

with 3 comments

Our last blog looked at why should we bother with social media in occuaptional therapy.  We examined the benefits of re-telling, or passing on stories.

We also promised to turn our gaze to the Mayo Clinic.

The Mayo Clinic was the source of the YouTube video of a couple playing the piano together.  It is a wonderfully uplifting film clip, and just the tip of their media iceberg.

Here is their dedicated YouTube channel, their Sharing Mayo Clinic blog, and, inevitably their Facebook page, with more than 15,000 fans.

This is a remarkable effort, and one that has apparently been recognised through their nomination to receive a Webby Award, the Oscars of the internet world.

Why do they do it and what does it achieve?

Well, the introduction to their blog states this;

“A blog with stories from patients, families, friends and Mayo Clinic staff”.  Stories again.  The stories humanise what could be an intimidating organisation – both in its size and also its nature.

But staff blogging?  Many here believe that is a serious no-no within healthcare, but at the Mayo there is no such disapproval.  That is not to say that they do not care, far from it.  They have a strong social media policy in place though, you can read it here.  When organisations have policies and guidelines such as these then obstacles to communication can be managed.  Staff can be encouraged and developed in social media skills, and given the tools to get the organisation’s message out there, namely that they care, that they are human and relate to their clients as humans too.  That is powerful and much better than simply prohibiting staff from engaging with online communities that might come into contact with the clinic.

And look at that Facebook page.

One reason for prohibiting social media interaction is that someone might say something bad.  On the Facebook page, people do raise objections on cost, interference in sociol-political campaigns and even a veiled attack on competence, which is perhaps inevitable.  It is not an issue though, the Mayo Clinic has built up such a loyal following around it, that the less favourable comments do not stand out and you have to look pretty hard to find them.

Oh, and they even have their own Second Life area as pictured above.

What similar systems, where patients, clients, families and staff are encouraged to speak out have you seen in the organsations you work in?

Managing Conflict in Occupational Therapy

leave a comment »

Harrison Training rolled out their Managing Conflict in Occupational Therapy course earlier this week.  This continues the development of Harrison’s interest in NHS and health care management skills training.

It became apparent that we all experience conflict within our work.  That is not surprising.  Conflict is in all that we do, whether professionally or socially.  We need to recognise where the potential for conflict lies and what our likely responses to it will be.

The mindmap shown above is one of the training resources that we used.  We highlighted nine types of conflict and then explored how they might arise within healthcare work, whether between colleagues, different levels of organisational hierarchy or with our clients.

We were able to explore typical responses and strategies to unblocking conflicts and also explore how our own actions often contribute to the conflict at hand.  The language we use, how we perceive ourselves within a conflict and who we speak to about it can all shape the destiny of any given situation.

The shift from blaming one another to an appreciation of how we might all be contributing to a problem is often a very powerful.  It makes the conflict safer to discuss and resolve.

By providing conflict awareness skills, team members can understand and anticipate possible conflict and where it might arise.  The result is that when it does emerge we are not taken by surprise and we have a range of lenses through which to perceive the problem.  That, coupled with practical strategies for resolution can help to cut the cost of conflict within our teams and organisations.

The course was very well received and prompted a great deal of discussion – the whole day felt like one massive conversation.

NHS Cuts, Budgets and That Thing Called Leadership

leave a comment »

Leadership needs to be inside out, not back to front.

With the imminent election, and even more imminent budget, the future funding of the NHS, and possible NHS spending cuts is a real hot topic.

In my previous post I highlighted the NHS Confederation’s report on Rising to the Challenge.

I have just been recapping their fascinating series on leadership from Spring 2009.

The fact that there are going to be massive cuts and the need for efficiency drives within the NHS is a given.  It is going to be unavoidable, as it will be in any other public sector.  What is not clear is how the system, and the individuals within it, will respond to those changes.

It is a time for leadership to come to the fore on a corporate and individual basis.

Leadership needs to be inside out, not back to front.

What is back to front leadership?

Back to front leadership is reactionary knee jerkism.  Back to front leadership only looks ahead at what is to come and reacts to it.

It is like reading the last page of a novel and guessing what might happen in the other 250 pages for yourself to fit with the conclusion you have just seen.

It is reactionary and often misguided.  The steps that are taken might match the predicted outcome (reduced costs) but may make no sense along the way.

Inside out leadership is different.

It still sees what the big picture is – there is no self deception or self comforting delusion here.  However it then works from the inside outwards to ensure that the necessary re-organisation fits the outcome and is consistent and coherent throughout the organisation.

This is much more challenging.  It requires the ability of managers and leaders (very different roles by the way) to be able to communicate, reassure, be honest and yet still move the team forward.  It takes courage to make those unattractive decisions.  There is no room here for procrastination or avoiding tough decisions and the subsequent conflict that will arise.

These leadership traits are not simply required in those we follow or look to for guidance and decision-making.  We can all develop leadership qualities ourselves and, as we do so, then we strengthen our own positions within our teams, employment but also within our personal lives and decision making.

Personal leadership also needs to be inside out, not back to front.

As we challenge ourselves to face up to several years of turmoil within the NHS , we have a choice.

We can read the writing on the wall and despair.  Maybe some will just give up, or others will keep a low profile hoping not to be noticed in any cutbacks.  That is the back to front approach.

The inside out approach to self leadership will be to look at ourselves.

What is it that we do really well?

Where can we improve?

What value and importance do we offer to our clients?

What value and importance do we derive for ourselves from what we do?

What is it that really fires us up?

Where do you want to be in say 3 to 5 years time, rather than where do you think the system will leave you in 5 years time?

These are all internal questions but they will have a profound impact and shape your external presentation.

If you are sure of why you do what you do, and if you have a vision for your career which is rooted to your values then you will be seen as someone to be kept hold of, and even promoted as and when opportunities continue to arise.

People will see you as bold, courageous.  You will be called inspirational.  People will turn to you for your opinion and guidance.

You become sought after and increasingly central to your team or organisation.

You will not avoid the tough times ahead but will be better positioned to roll with them, take the blows and carry on forward instead of falling into despair.  This resilience will, again, position you as a natural leader within your organisation as a result of developing your internal self leadership characteristics.

Here at Harrison Training we are continuing to expand our leadership skills training program for occupational therapists and other health care workers at all levels of seniority.  Let us know if this is something that you would like to bring into your organisation, or access personally, to help you and your people rise to the challenges that are to come.