Thinking OT

Thoughts from Harrison Training and the occupational therapy world

Posts Tagged ‘management

Challenge What I Think

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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.

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The Emergency Budget and the Need For Effective Leadership

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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.

What Does Leadership in OT Mean?

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In an earlier article I wrote a review of other OT blogs that we, here, at Harrison Training read. 

One of my favourites is the Salford University OT Educational blog.  The blog works becasue it expands diverse thoughts into debates.  A great example is this article on a recent leadership event the University hosted.

The author, Heather, concludes that

“occupational therapists need to be encouraged to lead but that they should have greater awareness of the types of challenge they face in the NHS and Social Care so that they lead consciously and effectively overcoming professional and gender discrimination.”

The discussion, and debate grows within the comments attached to that blog and please do go and read them and contribute.

The challenge that is presented is trying to understand just what leadership means in an OT context?  What elements of leadership, if any, are relevant to NHS and Social Care in particular?

Indeed, what are we talking about when we talk about leadership?

Leadership is not something that only those in charge require.  We all display elements of leadership characteristics in various aspects of our life –  it would seem very difficult to have a successful therapeutic relationship without having a degree of leadership.  How can we, as a profession, further identify and refine those skills to benefit our clients, employers and also enable us to work in ways which are truer to ourselves?

I recommended, in my response to the original post, two books.

The first is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.  It is perhaps the book on leadership from within the individual. 

The second book I would recommend is “Self Coaching Leadership” by Angus McLeod.  This is a much slimmer and lighter introduction to the concept of leadership, but no less potent for it.