Physicians are some of the most time squeezed professionals on Earth. Whether practicing at a hospital, or as part of a care delivery organization, physicians must keep up to date clinically while they serve their panel of patients. Additionally, many physicians are doing research or have management responsibilities within their organization. Lastly, in order to be a practicing clinician within their organization, these same physicians are required to learn the technology systems used in order to document their clinical encounters (mostly EHRs). How do most organizations train their physicians? In classrooms watching trainers move through PowerPoint slides while lecturing. Do we want our physicians spending up to 20 hours of their time in classrooms learning to use an administrative system? Physician staffing shortages are a reality. Utilizing their time for non clinical activities only exacerbates a bad situation. Most believe there are not enough Primary Care Physicians in the U.S. today, and the situation is only getting worse. (See Chart) According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there were 744,224 licensed and active physicians in the U.S. in 2011. Of those, 208,802 were aged 60 or older. At the same time there were 80,279 enrolled in the 137 accredited U.S. medical schools. Assuming no attrition, medical school graduates transitioning into their clinical residency (3 to 7 years) will average 20,070 per year, fewer than those retiring. There must be a better way to train physicians then spending the equivalent of 1,875,000 eight hour shifts (750,000 physicians times 20 hours training divided by 8 hours per shift) learning how to properly document a clinical encounter. Virtual Immersive Learning is one solution. Can you recommend others?
When is the last time you experienced, or witnessed, the outward manifestations of fear at work? Last year? Last month? Last week? Yesterday? How well did you deal with it? If you have room for improvement, read on. One of the most common issues I see as an executive coach is the failure to act. In the extreme, people give it a name: procrastination. It comes in many different flavors, but at its root there is a reluctance to proactively make change for the betterment of self, team and/or organization. Early on in my coaching career I attributed this phenomenon to either a lack of commitment to a goal or a lack of skill within the individual/team/organization. In reality, the failure to act can be founded in a much more fundamental primordial response – fear. Not so you say? Fear is supposed to generate either a fight or flight response? It does sometimes, but not always. Here are some observable fight responses to fear in the workplace. When afraid, some individuals decide not to flee – so driven by fear, they respond by:
- Failure to delegate
- Take credit for everything “good”
- Pass the blame for everything “bad”
- Don’t mentor
- Retain all decision making authority
- Have no succession plan
- Avoid risk
- Over control
All of these behaviors are polar opposites of what we think of when we think of effective leadership. If you, or your boss, exhibit these behaviors its time for change! We may fear many things: our work environment, our subordinates, or ourselves (fear of failure or success). When fear manifests itself in observable behavior we tend to address it, organizations build “solutions” to visible signs of management dysfunction. But what about procrastination? Procrastination is to leadership what heart disease is to health – a silent, deadly killer! You can try to avoid fear (choosing “safe” work environments), accept it (surrender), or adapt to it (experience, learn, process) and move forward. To learn to successfully convert fear into positive behavior can be difficult on ones’ own. Use your coach to help you build the process that works for you.
If you’ve worked with one of our coaches, you’ve heard of “the 94%”. One of Tim’s most tried and true models, he created it after reading a magazine article where a psychologist stated that 94% of the time people view events through how it impacts them personally. (The article was a long time ago – we can’t find it for attribution. Free cup of coffee to anyone who can find it for us!) Tim’s interactive model of behavior, when followed, helps two individuals through a process where each can be heard and, in turn, listen to another’s 94%.
Why did this idea strike a chord inside of Tim? Because he intuitively understood that individuals in the workplace are often at odds over some goal, process or “territory” because they are personally invested in their view, or opinion, being right and have stopped listening and being open to new or competing ideas. (After all – who holds onto personal views when they themselves believe them to be wrong?)
Per Chris Argyris: “There seems to be a universal human tendency to design one’s actions according to four basic values: 1) To remain in unilateral control; 2) To maximizing “winning” and minimize “losing”; 3) To suppress negative feelings; and 4) To be as “rational” as possible”1. Or, as John Kenneth Galbraith said: “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy working on the proof”.
With this naturally occurring intransigence, how in the world do people come to consensus about anything at work? With no consensus there can be no innovation or new course plotted. Simply put, no consensus results in the status quo being supported and maintained – again! Enter Tim with the ability to teach individuals how to break down the fortified bunkers of the adult mind through listening and constructive dialog. Are you or your organization stuck? Are you unable to reach consensus in order to create a plan of action to make things better? Learn how to quiet oneself in order to engage others through listening. Learn how to practice being open and how to help others do the same. Learn how to apply “the 94%”.
1) Argyris, Chris. Teaching Smart People How to Learn (Harvard Business Review Classics) Harvard Business School Press (May 19, 2008)
Working with people in teams can be challenging and exciting. As unique individuals, we bring all of ourselves – including moods, cultural background and our personality traits – to work every day. Then we bump into our co-workers with their own uniqueness and the fun begins!
Sometimes we attribute workplace frustration to the complicated nature of teamwork. When we experience feeling stuck or blocked at work is when we are more likely to engage in behaviors that are focused on relieving our emotional frustration instead of achieving organizational goals. For those of us who are uncomfortable having direct, open and candid conversations it can become a habit to look for workarounds in order to avoid what makes us uncomfortable. One of those workarounds can be to withdraw somewhat from the team and to act unilaterally. This type of short term focused behavior will not help us make progress toward our long term career goals.
Recently I ran across the (reportedly) old African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Regardless of its origin, what a great sentiment!
Do you sometimes “go alone” when reacting to work frustration? Going alone – by prioritizing individual goals, making unilateral decisions and attempting to amass power in order to gain control over one’s situation – can provide the feeling of relief. But is that progress? And if it is, to where?
Sometimes working with others on a team can feel slow. Wouldn’t it be better if we were to “go alone” in pursuit of our goals? After all, a lot of time and effort is involved in building team chemistry and alignment. Don’t be fooled into focusing on short term feelings and frustrations. Instead, choose to be open to the sustaining and fulfilling nature of teams and the positive impact it has on our long term success.
Your career is a long term event. To have a rewarding journey – and to make it fulfilling over a longer time – make sure to go with others. Any short term delays encountered by traveling with others will, over time, reveal themselves to be inconsequential.
In his 2010 book, Getting Naked, Patrick Lencioni writes about an approach to engaging with one’s clients. He talks about the humility, selflessness and transparency needed to become a trusted advisor to those who hire us. Lencioni posits, and I concur, that “most of us live our lives trying to avoid awkward and painful situations… (leaving us) susceptible to the three fears that sabotage client loyalty”:
• Fear of losing the business
• Fear of being embarrassed
• Fear of feeling inferior
As a business coach my role is to become my client’s trusted confidant. If what Lencioni says about consultants is true, it is doubly true for effective coaches. If I’m listening to a client and a question comes to mind do I ask it without concern about how it may impact my “image” or do I first concern myself with how I might be perceived (impression management)?
Much has been written about personal branding – and this blog, our tweets and our Facebook page indicate that we pay attention to our company’s brand. But what, if any, place in a coaching or consulting practice is impression management a valid concern?
For Wellesley Partners coaches, being effective has one overriding rule: being present, in the moment – being authentic. We connect to our clients – emotionally, not just intellectually. We understand the world through their eyes – feel their joy and feel their discomfort – in order to help them understand and grow through their unique experience.
Only through the outreach of caring (love) can we as coaches properly execute the role we are hired to play. Caring is demonstrated when we have the courage to confront our clients with their blind spots rather than being overly concerned with pleasing them. If there are only two emotions: love and fear, we must become adept at shedding our fears and find the courage to give voice to the questions that will draw our clients closer to the world that they seek. When we demonstrate our trust in our clients by “getting naked”, we invite them to trust us in return.