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What we can all learn from the junior doctor strikes…

Junior doctors are taking part in their all out strike today in England. Meanwhile, in Wales we watch with trepidation at what is happening over the border – as we often do.  

You may agree or you may disagree with their actions; it’s disruption on the biggest scale and a warning to many managers. We may not all be Jeremy Hunts, but this chaos is an example of exactly what goes wrong when disagreements are mismanaged. 

How can practice managers avoid their own mutiny within the workplace? 

Communication 

It’s bandied around all the time, but communicate effectively and not just when it gets down to the nitty gritty. It’s important to be approachable as a manager.  

Take ten minutes out of your day to say hello and ask “how was your weekend?” or “how’s your dodgy knee?” Be genuinely interested, no scuttling off to the office quietly, closing the door behind you and hoping that nobody will notice you’re in. 

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There are several ways you can build upon your relationship, all these things strengthen teams and encourage unity, diffusing tension. 

Don’t ignore matters 

If you notice there are some obvious anxieties between workers, talk about it. Get them in, give them facts and tell them what you’ve noticed something’s wrong and want to find out what can be done to help the situation. If the employee talks to you then take their concerns seriously. The fact that someone supposedly has a better chair than them may not seem like a priority to you, but if it’s causing friction then attempt to sort it out. 

If situations escalate follow procedures. Make sure you have a water tight grievance and disciplinary policy. Make sure it works for your organisation and follow it.  

Take advice from experts 

HR experts are trained and know what they’re talking about and have helped diffuse many situations. Find out if you have access to a HR line and make sure you use it when needed. 

It’s impossible to always come to an agreement with a staff member. They might want a new chair, while the practice might feel the chair they have is sufficient. The staff member may in turn behave in a passive aggressive way – minimal chat, no eye contact, refusing to work any extra hours and covering only the basics within their role.  Most practice managers will have seen this before, the behavior takes you right back to the beginning.  

Managers aren’t popular. Jeremy Hunt said this morning on the radio that he’s never going to win a likability contest. However, there are ways to improve our reputation. Imposing contracts and demanding change is unlikely to have any winners, ever. Staff will be demoralised, skilled workers will leave, rifts will be made and there’ll be a dart board with your face on it somewhere. 

So, with that being said: communicate, be approachable, talk, act, and don’t be a Hunt.

 

 

 


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