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PERSONAL REFLECTIVE JOURNAL
This personal reflective journal is an opportunity for me to record the knowledge I have gained over the last seven weeks. I currently work as a Technician in the Sterile Services Department (SSD) at Treliske Hospital, but I believe that expanding my knowledge base will give me the confidence to apply for positions of greater responsibility.
I am going to examine two related problems which I successfully resolved through application of leadership skills. Since self-confidence was a big motivation for me in undertaking this course, I will analyse these episodes with reference to Daniel Goleman’s five-component theory of Emotional Intelligence (1998).[^]
One aspect of my job that has always motivated me is the cleaning of items that cannot be processed through an industrial washer, owing either to the delicate nature of these instruments or to the exposure of electrical components. Such instruments have to be manually scrubbed; this process is known as ‘handwash’.[^]
The departmental practice has been to tackle the handwash in the Wash Room between 8-10pm. Following this norm, I have encountered the problem that two hours is insufficient to finish the job. My colleagues frequently leave a number of handwash items unprocessed, whereas I consistently stay late (between 10-30 minutes, see Appendix One) in order to finish the job.[^]
A second, related problem pertains to a flaw in the computer system that is installed in SSD to track the movement of sets and instruments both intra- and extra- departmentally. The result of this system flaw is confusion amongst my colleagues in the Packing Room, leading to them passing clean items back to the Wash Room as they are unable to obtain the necessary label and checklist. I used my administrative access to the computer system to solve this problem (see Appendix Two).[^]
My drive to succeed in finishing the handwash and correcting the computer system was not linked to status or financial gain, representing instead commitment to the smooth running of the SSD. This fits in neatly with Goleman’s definition and hallmark of motivation, as well as being a small-scale exemplification of the personal humility and professional will associated with Jim Collins’ notion of Level 5 Leadership (Collins, 2001). Furthermore, the sense of achievement I experienced in performing the work itself, together with the extra responsibility I took on while performing these duties and the recognition of my efforts in the form of gratitude from my Supervisor and the departmental Systems Administrator, demonstrates the relevance of four major ‘motivators’ in Frederik Herzberg’s model of motivation (Herzberg, 1968).[^]
In the third week of the course I was given a 17-page Insights Discovery Personal Profile (Insights, 2014). Following Ben Ryder’s advice, I checked the section entitled ‘Personal Style’ for accuracy; this resulted in a score of 98%.[^]
My Insights Profile suggests that another source of motivation comes from specific psychological traits. I am driven to complete tasks in an accurate and careful way, leading to workplace strengths and values in the form of: trustworthiness; an ability to solve problems; working late to finish the job; being realistic, systematic, and adaptable in my working behaviour; and having high competence in processing technical data. These characteristics are later discussed in relation to self-regulation.[^]
Potential weaknesses include occasional failings to consider the feelings of others, and a tendency to over-rely on analysis to the detriment of concrete action. An area for improvement caught my attention: I should share my ideas with other people, rather than keeping them to myself. I resolved to address these issues, and will discuss the implications of this decision in the section on empathy.[^]
I was frustrated by the repeated issues concerning the handwash. It would have been easy to give in to the impulses to leave the handwash unfinished and to put the error-message-ridden items aside for the Systems Administrator to deal with by himself.[^]
Instead, I channelled the energy behind these disruptive impulses into seeking productive solutions. The fact that I have a good technical knowledge of the tracking system thanks to the System Administrator’s faith in my data handling capability, coupled with my willingness to work late, meant that I could solve both the error-message and excessive handwash issues. Trustworthiness and a willingness to change are hallmarks of Goleman’s conception of self-regulation.[^]
However- while following Donald Schön’s 1983 model of The Reflective Practitioner in order to critically appraise the two problems which I believed I had resolved- I became aware of fuller solutions to both handwash-related difficulties.[^]
It dawned on me that while my colleagues would doubtless experience emotions similar to mine when faced with the daily handwash issues, not everybody understands the finer workings of the computer system, nor is everybody prepared to work late.[^]
This led me to two revised solutions. Firstly, it would be better practice to process the handwash in two manageable bursts to ensure it gets finished. Secondly, clean items would no longer be passed back to the Wash Room if people were made aware of the need to leave them in the Packing Room.[^]
The concept of awareness led me to consider Prosci’s ADKAR model of change management (Jeffrey Hiatt, 2006). SSD employees were aware of a need to change the problems related to the handwash procedure, and desired such a change to avoid repeated frustration. However, they had neither the knowledge nor the ability to effect these changes. Without these factors, reinforcement of a change is impossible.
I determined to give my colleagues the requisite knowledge and ability to facilitate a positive working practice change, in line with Goleman’s definition of empathy. A hallmark of Goleman’s empathy is improved service to clients and customers, exemplified in this case by a more efficient handwash service.[^]
I requested a modification to an existing document (‘HESSDA-13’, see Appendix Three) on the department’s Q-Pulse system outlining good handwash practice, making it clear that error-message-ridden handwash items should stay in the Packing Room (see Appendix Four). I also encouraged the Training Manager to send an email to all staff suggesting that the handwash be processed in two shorter time slots (see Appendix Five).
Once read, all staff would have the necessary knowledge and ability to complement the awareness and desire to change. Reinforcement would be in place, since there would be a visible performance improvement and any member of staff not complying with the changes could be held accountable.[^]
Attempting to convince two Band Five members of the management team that change was needed, I considered Kenneth Dunegan’s research into Leader-Image Compatibility (2003); specifically, the findings that perceptions of role ambiguity and role conflict are hugely diminished when the leader fits the observer’s implicit prototype of such a person. I explained the performance benefits of following my recommendations, leaving the exact wording of the changes in their hands so as not to appear too controlling.[^]
With the Systems Administrator and Training Manager onside, we had formed a powerful guiding coalition, created-, communicated-, and empowered others to act on the vision, and were confident that our colleagues would experience short-term wins in terms of improved handwash efficiency. As such, we followed several of John Kotter’s (2000) steps in leading successful transformation.[^]
Using Goleman’s five-component model of Emotional Intelligence as a reference point, my provisional solutions (working late, correcting the computer system) demonstrate that my motivation and self-regulation skills came to the fore. My natural working motivation exemplified several aspects of Collins’ and Herzberg’s theories.
Consideration of my Insights Profile– as well as the work of Schön, Prosci, Dunegan, and Kotter– helped improve my self-awareness, empathy, and social skills, resulting in me taking on a leader role by helping to implement more effective working practices.
I believe that this course has given me the requisite knowledge to become an effective leader.[^]
The website link in the reference below redirects here, rather than directing to the relevant web page. Web pages are frequently added to- and removed from- the web, and sharedsapience.info does not want to include links to missing web pages. The web addresses can be copy-and-pasted into a new tab if the reader wishes to check the source material.
Collins, J. (2001) Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve, Harvard Business Review, 79; 1, 66-76
Dunegan, K. (2003) Leader-Image Compatibility: An Image Theory View of Leadership, Journal of Business and Management, 9; 1, 61-72
Goleman, D. (1998) What Makes a Leader? Harvard Business Review, 76; 6, 93-102
Herzberg, F. (1968) One more time: how do you motivate employees? Harvard Business Review, 46; 1, 53-62
Hiatt, J. (2006) Adkar: A Model for Change in Business, Government and Our Community, Colorado: Prosci Learning Center Publications
Hill, R., and the MindTools Team. (undated) Deciding, Quantitatively, Whether to go Ahead. [Online] Available at: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_08.htm. [Accessed 29 October 2014]
Kotter, J. (1995) Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail, Harvard Business Review, 73; 2, 59-67
The Insights Group Limited. (2014) Insights Discovery Personal Profile: Christopher Larham (Foundation Chapter)
Schön, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action, New York: Basic Books