- Posted Monday February 1, 2021
It's good to be back - there's certainly a lot going on! Vaccination clinics being set up and the lockdown now resumed.
I am fully aware of how precious your time is right now. But I strongly believe asking the right question with an attentive ear is important. Not only do we need to hear people we need to see them too.
You’ve patiently worked alongside your colleagues who are now showing signs of tiredness, worry, and concern. I know from my personal experience as a Practice Manager that we always stepped up to the challenge in General Practice, but never have we seen such a time as this.
How precious is the staff family right now? They’ve all worked tirelessly from March 2020 and they are still doing it, but now with 'add-ons' - home schooling, caring for the vulnerable, shielding (and yes for some, working from home).
When we started our mini-series on Mindful Insights we made the statement "You can do anything you set your mind to!". I am unashamedly a great advocate for this statement, and I certainly will give it a good go (whatever 'it' may be), and I know many of you have stated that you do the same. For the most part, when we make this statement it is for ourselves, but I want you to consider something different when we ask a question...
How are you?
Managers know their staff, they know themselves and they know their clinicians, and there has been relentless pressure on all of us. The very things that got us through an ordinary year have been taken away from us; we haven’t had our usual holidays; we haven’t been afforded the luxury of meeting with friends for drinks and the enjoyment of meeting to eat together. We have also been deprived of the simple pleasure from hugs and on it goes.
The months ahead are critical and we need to face them with a different mind-set. So, how do we rebuild the resilience that’s fading and ensure that’s everyone is seen and heard?
Sometimes all we need is someone to listen to us, to be non-judgemental when we don’t get it straight away, and need that little bit of extra time to process why we are feeling the way we do. As human beings, we need a safe space; the exact opposite to this is that sometimes we may simply need support in being able to figure out how to cope and strategize at a particular point in time.
Whichever way how about simply using a check-in conversation;
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Get them Talking!
- Use conversation starters to engage the employee in conversation
- Use open-ended questions to keep them talking
- Let them steer the conversation, but make sure you discuss any important items
To 'check-in' is to communicate with someone at a certain interval in time so as to provide or ask about them, their work, or status. You may not get a response straightway but they know you have seen them and want to hear them.
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Whilst we may be really good at checking in with others, the staff and doctors, please do not forget to check in with yourself.
I have had the privilege of meeting some amazing managers and would encourage all of them with a 'note to self' – Please develop a habit/ time and really ask yourself how you are checking out each day and make it a priority for you.
Note to self: a reminder that our physical and mental wellbeing is intrinsically linked. We all hold ourselves in tension at times; when it becomes the norm, we are hurting ourselves.
So please be mindful that going for a walk at lunchtime and some fresh air can be the key to relieving some of that tension.
Many managers accept that stress is part of the job, but I would share that we shouldn’t go about constantly feeling stressed and worried. We know about the 'Fight or Flight' response and it’s designed to protect our body but when the stress response keeps firing continually our health is at risk.
You’ve done an amazing job and been on high alert since March 2020 and chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms that can affect your overall wellbeing. You must take a close look at where your stress is coming from and how best you can work, then share that with a responsible other.
It’s important for you to have a buddy, mentor, well-being coach, or best friend.
I think it’s important to say thank you for all you are doing at this time. The pressure within the NHS family is being felt by all. We all need to thrive and we all play an important role to help each other enjoy good mental health and reaching our full potential.
The NHS has support and help for healthcare workers in all professions, and you can also get support from a mental health charity.
Please feel free to look at the variety of courses on offer to help you and your staff at this time. Alternatively, contact us for a consultation on what would be best suited for your needs.
ILM Managing People with Confidence
ILM Leadership and Coaching
Charan Sarai is a Training Leader for Thornfields Primary Care Services - look out for her next monthly article in the weekly FPM Bulletin.