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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

It’s a Saturday morning and work is still on my mind ... is it about balance?

This post was written on a Saturday about two weeks ago; its been allowed to rest and be considered afresh. I don't believe it to be controversial; I wanted to be sure it was appropriate. I believe it is.

  At the end of the week I like to wind down and see the weekend as an opportunity to think about and do things other than work. So the kitchen surfaces need a rub down and re-varnish, bin needs emptying and so on. The village pub has its post Christmas charity auction tonight, so I’ll take my £5 and see what I can get.

In the meantime I awoke with work on my mind; how many of us do that after a week (or a particularly busy day) needing to reflect and be ready for what comes next. What often gets to me are the things that we often as managers cannot (or choose not to) talk about; I know with a nursing background what practising discretion and confidentiality mean. Yet I feel inhibited about talking about aspects of work as a manager, and I wondered if this was a common sense of difficulty?

I'm now about to disclose a few things that have filled the last month; I have to be aware that this piece will be seen by many (I plan to use it as a thought piece too), so I am about to walk the tightrope I sense is there. It’s up to the readers to say if I have fallen off or stayed just in balance enough.

The last month has seen me prepare some project workers for redundancy as the money runs out; a dismissal decision is being appealed; changes in the appraisal framework are unsettling staff and budget pressures ahead of next year are creating waves. On top of that yesterday saw our discovery that on-site contractors had interfered with our fire alarm system (without telling us), leaving it only partially functioning for a few days. We are thankful the routine alarm test showed something was up. The fallout will start dropping on Monday ... that gives me something to look forward to.

Set aside this is the continued delivery of care by those in the team whose job it is to do directly, supported by others who back them up. They've done it well and have had praise; the CQC have commented encouragingly on our reporting of concerns this week. 

Some of this is in my control;  a lot is the hands of others who are either line managed by me or who have been brought in as experts who tell me they have systems that should stop things like the alarm situation happening. Have I just had a bad week or is this kind of thing replicated in your setting? In what forum can we discuss such things? In our Executive Clinical Leads in Hospices and Palliative Care (ECLiHP) regional meeting we set aside some ‘Chatham House rules’ time; that is a helpful opportunity to have to share stuff. 

Should mangers be more upfront about the kind of things we have to get involved in, and how well we perform in those situations? I am grateful ECLiHP is there and I am sure it’ll have a role in helping finding answers to such questions; just sometimes though I long for a quiet week to balance things up, just once in a while. That would make going to the pub just a little more relaxed.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you Philip, this is an excellent description of a situation I suspect many of us find ourselves in all too frequently. There is a balance to be struck between giving an impression that we're 'coping' and 'capable' whilst also exposing to colleagues, team and others that we need support ourselves and aren't immune to multiple pressures of work. I really enjoyed reading this blog and it's got me thinking myself about how much we may try to 'protect' those around us by not disclosing some pressures when actually the pressure can diminish somewhat when the wise counsel of colleagues helps us. As I often say; a problem shared isn't a problem halved, but it is a start to finding a solution. A very timely blog with Time To Talk day tomorrow. Thanks again.

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