Personality, Colour Blocks, and Bacon Sarnies

This morning I realised I hadn’t written a blog about my exciting week last week.

I suppose I need to start on Sunday night (last week). I was packing clothes with a sense of excitement, and trepidation as I prepared for 4 days away with work. See I don’t normally get the chance to work away, in fact this is the first time I have worked away from Hull in over 20 years, and then it was an 7 week placement in Scunthorpe, so I’m not sure that counts.

This time I was being sent to Derby with a colleague to become an accredited practitioner of a personality preference evaluation tool.

It sounds very fancy and it is! To be honest I was quite sceptical even though I had, had my profile completed about 18 months ago. My problem was that personality preferences were categorised into colours with descriptions such a fiery red and cool blue, and then people would wear their colour personality as a badge of honour or use it to explain their poor behaviours. I am now however educated and enlightened. In fact I can see how powerful a tool this evaluator can be to help people achieve their goals both individually and collectively. What is needed though is enough people with enough understanding to challenge the stereotypes that can develop if the language of colours is used in isolation. I prefer to say that I prefer to be a supporting helper, but can be a reforming director if needed. If used properly this tool can stretch people’s capabilities.

I am so pleased I went on this 4 day course, it has energised my enthusiasm for coaching ( I didn’t think that was possible either).

It wasn’t just the content of the course that energised me. When you work in a hospital it is easy just to surround yourself with like minded people, generally people that work in public office (healthcare, social care, police, fire service and education). On this course public sector workers were in the minority and I was working alongside people from a wide variety of industries. You know what? They are just like me! We had a great time working with each other and learning so much.

The course was held in a swanky hotel on the outskirts of Derby. Being NHS employees we did not stretch the public purse, so we stayed down the road in Derby in a normal hotel. However lunch, coffee and snacks were part of the course, and oh boy they were lovely, the bacon sarnies were my personal favourite.

You may be wondering what the coloured blocks means in the title. Well when you have your profile done you get coloured blocks that you can put in you order of preference. From now on however I will be using my blocks to demonstrate that the colour code they produce is not fixed and you can and should use all of your personality to benefit yourself and your team.

I will gladly say those 4 days were 4 of the most inspiring and enlightening days I have experienced for a long time.

Painful Heel, no running, play acting and living the dream

Last Sunday, it felt like I had broken something in my foot (I am a big baby when it comes to pain)! It turns out after much drama, involving me limping around the house moaning and whinging that I have plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the plantar fascia, which I think is tendon on the bottom of my foot). See my heel has been sore and my ankle stiff for a few weeks, I wrongly thought it was arthritis so thought the more I use it the better it will be. Well no! The more I ran on it the worse it got, culminating in my agony last Sunday. So the advice is from my running expert friends and NHS Choices is pain killers, rest and gentle exercises, so no running. That has seriously pissed me off. My running career had been hit and miss and I was just beginning to get back into a routine and it has stopped again! Anyway I am resting it as much as I can and taking my pain killers. Hopefully it won’t be too long before it settles down.

Other than that last week was very positive at work. I am in the process of putting together the cohort of the coaching course we are hosting, and it is beginning to take shape nicely. I have also been asked to help deliver clinical supervision training across the trust. For both of these courses I will be working alongside 2 incredible trainers who have influenced my own approach to delivering training, so it is so exciting to be working with 2 legends. Then on Wednesday I was helping out a development centre, where we help existing managers stretch their management and leadership skills. I am often asked to help out in these due to my dubious acting skills. I always play the role of a dodgy professor, with suspect working practices who is interested in doing some new and radical treatments. These managers are tasked with managing my work plan and my expectations without damaging my massive but fragile ego. I had the most enormous fun, and I must say the managers did an incredible job to take me to task without destroying me.

The weekend was taken up with domestic chores, Lisa was working so I was let loose with hoover, mop and iron along with my usual cooking duties. I know how to live. I did think about trying to get a sick note for all things domestic due to my injury but thought better of it. In fact I particularly enjoyed mopping in my funky mopping socks.

Really what kind of week has it been?

Have the weeks been shortened? I am sure we used to get more of week when I was younger.

I started thinking about what I had done this week and realised that was the week before!

There are so many things I need to do at the moment, that time just seems to fly by.

We all say we don’t have enough time to do things we want to. Well I challenge that notion. I know I said the week has flown by, but if I am honest I have done all the things I wanted to do. All the activities and work I have done, I value higher that the activities and work I didn’t do. Sometimes we like to think we want to do something that sounds worthwhile or is good for you, but don’t by saying we didn’t have time. That might be visiting friends or family, going for a run, writing that book, organising your office. You tell yourself you would have done them if you had the time. I say no you wouldn’t! Ask yourself what activities at work and at home are immovable, you will do them no matter what? For me that is currently completing monthly training compliance for each staff member, meeting staff members for coaching, cooking tea for my family. I will not, not do these, and become distressed if I cannot do these. I value them above say going to certain meetings, going to the gym, and cutting the lawn (in the summer). It is not always things we enjoy that we prioritise, often it is what we think is important or that we don’t have a choice over. There will however always be something we enjoy that we make a priority even if we don’t like to admit it. I know plenty of people that work late on a regular basis and do so because they get engrossed in what they are doing. There are others that feel guilty not prioritising certain things and end up staying late to finish them. That for me is worrying that they don’t value their personal self, and will end up being less productive and increasingly unhappy. These are the people who need a coach with them to raise awareness of their values.

Any way my week has been very productive. I have been talking to potential coaches about starting our coaching course. So lots of varied conversations that have actually raised my own awareness about my coaching. I spent Monday and Friday talking to our rotation nurses and setting their objectives. Tuesday was spent talking to students from Hull college, showing them how to make beds and discussing patient hygiene, pressure sore prevention, privacy and dignity and professionalism. I love talking to young people about my passion for care and compassion. I also spent some time re-igniting and not doubt prioritising some work I started on nutrition, and preparing to launch our children’s sepsis management plan, now the paperwork has come from the printers we can make final plans for launch (another change of priority, something that has been in the background whilst waiting for the paperwork to arrive).

There is no surprise really that the week flew by.

An Exciting Week of Coaching

Last weekend I wrote about the prospect of mixing my 2 roles this week.

Well so far so good. It has been a challenging but exciting week. Monday and Tuesday I suppose were standard kind of days. Monday was a nurse educator day, with a mixture of time in my office and an afternoon of auditing on a ward and then a lovely discussion with a teenage patient her Mum and their nurse. We spent about an hour in total talking about the teenagers experience on the ward and her treatment. It was a really informative chat getting a 3 way perspective of inpatient treatment on a Children’s Ward. To keep track of the impact our care has on the young person, their parents and the nurses delivering the care is so important, but manage to do that in one go with all three parties there is a first for me and quite brilliant, I hope the parent, young person and nurse found it useful too.

Tuesday was a coaching lead day. A large part of this day was spent preparing for the launch of the coaching network, the rest of the day was taken up with a team meeting and preparing for the next day’s Human Resources time-out.

So Wednesday was the HR time-out day. I was there to introduce so coaching skills and techniques to the HR Advisors. I had developed a bespoke training session (well I took an existing training day for managers and adapted it for HR Advisors). This was the first time I had trained anyone in coaching techniques singlehanded. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I was a complete needy wreck all morning. Once we were into the second half of the session and into the practice coaching session I started to relax and enjoy it. I can honestly say for large parts of the morning I was out of my comfort zone, and only in hindsight can I appreciate the session as a success. It was certainly a training day where we all learned.

Today I was back in my comfort zone with fellow nurse educators, holding the second day of the new starters catch up day, hosted by our Practice Development Matron. I facilitated the feedback session after the nurses had worked in small groups to analyse their first few months in our Trust. This is so important that both the Nurses themselves and the organisation take responsibility to learn from what worked and what didn’t work to improve our induction programs and to help us all to respond to the changing demands of delivering healthcare in 21st Century UK. Despite the challenges that are definitely evident it is heartening how positive the morning was with the emphasis being on solutions rather than problems. There are truly some talented future health leaders amongst these nurses. I certainly feel positive about our future healthcare.

Following the feedback I gave them a chance to form their own personal goals using blind coaching. I asked them a series of high quality questions designed to formulate a smart goal, examine how they are going to achieve it, what difficulties they may encounter and create a commitment to achieve it. Time will tell if any of them turn that goal into a reality.

One day left and another coaching conversation due tomorrow. A good week in all. I feel I am starting to make a difference, and influencing people’s relationship with coaching.

Blurring of roles and blind coaching

Multi-Cultural Office Staff Sitting Having Meeting Together

As you will remember from Being The New Boy Again blog that I am now doing two jobs in the hospital. Now some days it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. Monday was one of those days. It was a day designated to my role as Nurse Educator, but not exclusively for my home department (Children and Young People).

Now to explain to you what I was doing I will give you a little bit of background. Back in October the Hospital I work for recruited over a 100 nurses in one go, and the vast majority of them had just graduated from University. As a result all of us Nurse Educators came together to provide an extensive month long induction programme devised by the surgical nurse educator team and their inspirational manager. They came up with the programme as the team had done a similar smaller scale induction the previous year. This year required a mass mobilisation of nurse educators and specialists. It was a daunting and often frustrating undertaking but we achieved it. To be fair it was more they achieved it, as I was more on the periphery, having to plan a parallel bespoke programme for the children’s nurses. I did however contribute to the adult nurse programme by holding teaching sessions on error management and human factors.  So that was back in October, and at the time we committed to providing follow days to track the new nurses progress, provide clinical supervision and receive feedback about the induction and the subsequent preceptorship on the wards. And that was what I was doing on Monday.

The first part of the morning was spent with the nurses undertaking a personal SWOT analysis and then small group SWOT analysis. The idea was to generate personal and collective actions. This is where the 2 roles for me start to blur, as the facilitator of the feedback session for the group SWOT and for the individual SWOT coaching came to the fore. This is not unusual as a nurse educator is a coach and mentor and teacher at any point during the day. However as the feedback from the group analysis was being discussed, I was starting to see opportunities for the coaching network to address some of the issues that were being discussed. How a wider network of coaches and leaders taking a coaching approach would enable new nurses to better manage their transition from student to registered nurse, and how experienced teams integrate large numbers of new nurses in to their teams. This is all the more important at the moment where the NHS as a whole is finding it challenging to reduce the current turnover of nurses. The answer has to be to enable the nurses and other healthcare workers to manage positively how they approach working in a challenging environment. But that is the subject of another blog so I will not dwell on that.

I took a mental note of all these potential opportunities, with a personal goal of discussing them when back in my coaching role. Then I rushed headlong into another coaching role. To help the nurses think about the results of their personal SWOT analysis as a real tangible thing, rather than just an academic exercise, I held a blind coaching exercise. I asked them to identify what they wanted to achieve and then write it down in a sentence. Next I asked them to think when they wanted to achieve that by and asked them to write down the exact date, not just 6 months but what date is 6 months from today. I then asked a series of questions that explored how they would achieve, what they could use, who could help, what might stop the progress, how will they know they achieved it and many more. This blind coaching approach helps a group of people clearly identify their role, tests how committed they are to achieving it, and creates a personal accountability. Now not everyone in the room will be committed to changing something about themselves, but it exposes them to coaching and for those that commit to it will see the value of coaching when they achieve their goal.

My two roles will always bleed into each other , but they more often than not compliment each other as the aim of both roles is to increase knowledge and self-awareness for all the staff working in the hospital. On top of that both roles provide so much job satisfaction. I have felt a little overwhelmed at times doing both jobs, but at the same time I am having so much fun and their are more exciting times to come.

A Week of Coaching Old Friends

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It has been a funny old week at work. It was another short working week, with New Years Day being on Monday. By Tuesday though it was as if the Christmas holiday had never happened. That was probably because for me and many others at best Christmas was just two long weekends.

So it was back at work on Tuesday, feeling a little deflated that Christmas was over and the long dark, and cold month of January was spread out in front of me. I tell you Foggy was having a field day on Tuesday morning, filling my head with negative and destructive thoughts on the bus on the way in to work. I desperately needed some positivity to get me through this first week of 2018.

As mentioned in last week’s blog I had briefly reviewed last year’s progress. So once I was at work on Tuesday I started with a brief look back at last year and looking at what needed to be continued into this year. This gave me some momentum helping me look beyond the seemingly cold and gloomy month. So I had plenty to get my teeth into on the first day, including working on the meta-ethnography research I am working on with the university, arranging reviews of the rotation of new staff and arranging to catch up with some of my longstanding coachees.

I have been coaching 3 nurses in leadership roles for some time now, and I had not met up with them for a few months. It was therefore important that we met up to allow them to provide an update o what they had done and what was left to complete. I must admit I did instigate the catch-ups, by wishing them a Happy New Year and asking them if they wanted to meet. All 3 were keen to meet up, either to provide an update or to discuss new and emerging issues for them at work.

Just before each coaching session I always get very nervous and quite tense. I am sure I am not the only coach that feels like this. It is the desire to provide the coaching session the coachee needs that drives my anxiety. I find that I need to empty my mind just before the session and fight the urge to rehearse the session in my head before I get there. Otherwise there is a risk that I run the session as per my rehearsal and it is not run by the coachee. I am always fearful of making the coaching session about me the coach and not keeping the focus on the coachee. It is not that we might spend the whole session talking about me, but that I start to get seduced by the subjects that we are discussion and move into problem solving mode. This can be an easy trap to fall into when coaching people who are from the same professional background.  I must admit that on a couple of occasions in 2 of the sessions this did happen. Luckily I recognised what was happening before I started to problem solve. On these occasions I declared to the coachee what was happening to me. I said told them that I had, had previous experience of this and then told them what I had learned from my experience. By declaring what I was doing, I was making t very clear that this was my experience and what I learned about it, and that it may help them, but it is up to them to decide. It is Ok to provide direction from time to time as long as you declare it.

So what I learned from the coaching this week is that becoming anxious about the upcoming session is very important to me as it raises my self-awareness of my occasional tendency to internalize the subject matter, and that if I recognise this is happening then I need to declare this to the coachee.

Now I must say I thoroughly enjoyed all 3 coaching conversations. All 3 of them are doing some amazing things and truly do make a difference to healthcare. I always come away from the sessions inspired, having learned something. As I have been coaching them for a while, I have a good relationship with them all and they are definitely equal relationships where we feel we can challenge and support in equal measure.

Meeting up with and coaching 3 old friends has definitely improved my mood this week and put Foggy back in his box. I am now looking forward to the rest of January with a renewed vigour.

Coaching Conversations, and Christmas Jumpers

This week has seen my second week learning to juggle being a Teacher Practitioner and Coaching Lead. I wouldn’t say it is any easier, in fact it may actually be getting harder, however as I relax, I am enjoying the challenge more each day.

So after a busy weekend taking in the latest projections on the Deep as part of the Hull’s City of Culture, and battling the crowds at Beverley’s Festival of Christmas with my Wife and Mother I was a little tired starting work on Monday. To be honest I felt a little overwhelmed by it all, trying to juggle both roles. I was a little short tempered with someone first thing. It took me an hour or so to realise that it was me being a little unreasonable, so I took some time to rectify the situation, and I am so glad I did. It cleared the air and gave them some time to articulate what they planned to do and receive endorsement. We both left the meeting feeling empowered and enthused. That to be honest set me up for the rest of the week.

Monday and Tuesday were coaching lead days. Both were very productive starting the process of developing a coaching network. As it is early days yet, my week is a little mixed up with both roles encroaching on each other. For instance bang in the middle of Tuesday I had a Teacher Practitioner meeting developing an advice leaflet, and the previous conversation on Monday was as a Teacher Practitioner. Then on Thursday I had a meeting in my Coaching role. This does add to the challenge but is good fun.

I am excited about going to work every morning again. It is as if I have a completely new job. Having the extra role has changed the way I look at my Teacher Practitioner role. It feels like I have a brand new toy to play with.

Even though having two roles is stressful and occasionally overwhelming, I am having the time of my life. I feel reinvigorated, so much so that I have started to write my story again, after a 4 month hiatus, and I am excited about attracting new clients for my private practice. I really want people to feel as enthused about their career as I do. Through being coached I am convinced people can discover their real dream and realise it. I have spent the whole week having coaching conversations with people, some coaching me. When that light bulb moment happens it is quite incredible. This week I have experienced it and witnessed it. Don’t be shy about coaching it does change lives.

Oh as I mentioned Christmas jumpers in the title, I really should put it in my blog. So yesterday any coaching conversations held were accompanied by a singing Christmas Jumper. Well it is the Friday before, the Friday before Christmas.