Conflict Resolution and Collective Bargaining

Something that stuck out to me was the importance of effective communication.  In order to resolve conflict, communication has to be involved.  Not just any communication, but assertive communication can be more beneficial.  From the movie, The Guardian, I learned that letting conflict build up rather than addressing it promptly only makes things. worse!  Being able to talk with those who are involved in the conflict, try to understand all points of view, and trying to relate and come up with the best resolution together can likely lead to closer relationships in a workplace, too!

It was interesting to read the posts my teammates posted about collective bargaining.  We were supposed to be an advocate for the employees and negotiate with the employer.  Some chose to negotiate a little in a lot of different categories, whereas other chose to focus on just one or two items to negotiate.  It makes me wonder which goes over better in the real world?

The biggest takeaway for me was the assertive communication. Some times I tend to let things fester that are bothering me about how something is done at work.  I hope I can try to use assertive communication and express how I’m feeling. I bet I would come to understand the reasons behind certain work processes  better and learn to be more ok with it.  Open communication is key!

I think this also goes for when I might be a nursing leader in the future, too.  If leaders sense conflict between employees, perhaps they can approach them and encourage them all to discuss the situation face to face and seek to find a resolution.  

Operational/Strategic Planning

It is interesting to consider how important strategic planning actually is.  The old way of strategic planning was commonly a 5 year plan.  The new way is a plan for 6, 12, 18, or 24 months down the road.  I learned that strategic planning is envisioning where you want your organization to be in the next 6, 12,18, or 24 months and then making plans how to reach that ultimate goal.  

I liked hearing everyone’s thought process as to how they would strategically place clinics, hospitals, etc in order to grow their business.  It helped me realize how important it would be to have a team involved in strategic planning.  Gathering everyone’s ideas and being able to discuss the best ones to reach the ultimate goal is very efficient.

A portion of the lecture discussed a nurse leader’s role in strategic planning which is to focus on their unit and do all they can to steer their unit in the direction of the ultimate goals.  I felt this was most applicable to me right now.  I want to be able to be involved and aware of what my workplace’s ultimate goals are and what the plans are to get there.  This will help me be able to do my part in steering us to reach our goals!

This unit was helpful in realizing the importance of always striving to improve an organization.  Without a vision, where is there to go?  Without a vision, how can we strategically make plans in the right direction?

Managing Change

Throughout this unit, I learned more about myself and how I deal with change.  I really enjoyed the video, “Who Moved My Cheese.”  I related myself most to Haw.  I initially hesitate with change, but I eventually try to understand the purpose for the change and adapt accordingly.  In the team discussion, all of us said we mostly identify with Haw.  It was interesting to read the reasons as to why they saw themselves as Haw.

In the lecture, I learned about how necessary change is.  Without change, there isn’t growth.  People get too comfortable and limit their progression toward more success, whether it is in a job or their personal life.

Going back to the video, “Who Moved My Cheese,” I like how this story demonstrates different personality tendencies.  What stuck out to me most were the “writings on the wall.”  I learned that change can really be a good thing and there is so much growth that results from adapting to change.

I want to make sure to always try and be more adaptable to change, especially in my nursing career.  I think the best application will be for me to learn to always expect change.  Nothing ever stays the same, and if I can always anticipate change, I think I will be able to more easily adapt and reap the benefits of change!

Budget Interview

I interviewed Greg Keetch, who is the owner of a restaurant, Taco Amigo in Pleasant Grove, Utah.  He is responsible for the budget, and it was interesting to hear his responses to the following interview questions:

  1. What are some of the most common areas in which your company goes over budget?
  2. What have you noticed works most effectively in cutting costs of these problem areas?
  3. Have you ever had to lay people off as a result of consistently going over budget?
  4. Do you find it beneficial to keep employees aware of budgeting concerns?
  5. Are there certain categories of your budget that seem to be unpredictable? (patterns of being over than under budget?)
  6. Would you see it beneficial to provide a cost breakdown of over budget areas?
  7. How often do you spend time looking over the budget?
  8. Do you include staff or other leaders in budget discussions?
  9. What tools or programs do you use to stay on budget?
  10. What concerns you more, keeping the month to month budget or the year to date budget?
  11. What has been your greatest success in keeping budget? What is a time when you erred in keeping budget?

Considering Greg’s responses to these questions, it was quite clear that the most concerning area of going over budget is staffing/labor for him.  He said it can be difficult to predict how busy days and nights will be at his restaurant, so staffing is complicated.  To avoid going over budget, he reviews past years to see how busy certain days of the year are to have a better idea of how many employees to schedule. He also created an app that all of the managers have.  This app shows the labor as a percentage in each given hour.  The managers are all aware of what the desired percentage is, and if they are over, the managers are expected to send people home.  This has helped with staffing over-budgeting a lot.

It seems like a lot of businesses have difficulties with staffing, which seems very understandable.  In order to keep patient/customer satisfaction, you can’t be understaffed because then people are displeased and you risk employee burnout.  Then at the same time, you don’t want to have too many employee at once, because the budget can quickly be surpassed this way.  I really liked how Greg said they have an app for the managers to know the labor compared to the amount of business they are getting each hour.  This seems like an effective way to manage labor step by step.

Career Development and Staffing

I realized the importance of developing a career plan, or having an ultimate career goal.  Talking about my career goals with my team helped me put my thoughts in writing and think about yearly goals to reach my ultimate goal.  I also took away from this unit the importance of effective scheduling on a nursing unit.  I have had good experiences with staffing, and so it was interesting to read about the different experiences my team members have had.  

Poor scheduling techniques can lead to nurses quitting because of burnout or not knowing their schedule far enough in advance.  My team came to the consensus that self scheduling is very beneficial.  It helps the nurse be responsible for their schedule and avoids having to pay someone else to have to work on the schedule.  

I get to make my own schedule as a hospice nurse, and I love it.  Of course, I need to be available Monday through Friday 8-5, but I have so much say as to when I see my patients.  Looking into the future, I hope to remember my good experiences and others’ bad experiences with scheduling.  I hope if I am in a leadership position, I will try my best to make a staffing technique that gives the nurses autonomy in making their schedule.  

Future of Nursing

For this unit we watched Dr. Gonzales’ presentation about the Future of Nursing.  I actually really enjoyed listening to this.  I felt like it was inspiring to hear where we, as a nursing profession, are currently and the direction we are heading.  It was inspiring to listen to the presented goals and the attainability of these goals.  

The team discussion helped me to put my thoughts about the lecture into words.  I realized that, yes, I do agree with the direction of nursing and I do believe the goals are attainable!  It of course will take time, but we are already heading in the right direction!  Each team member agreed with the direction of nursing and the goals.  From the discussion, we were all able to build on our initial opinions.

Toward the end of Dr Gonzales’ presentation, she talked about how each of us, as nurses, could play our part in reaching the goals be being life-long learners, encouraging other nurses to do the same, encouraging ourselves and others to reach higher degrees of education, and being more involved in the healthcare organizations for which we work.  I want to make it a conscious effort to play my part!  It also plan to make goals of furthering my education.  I hope to go on after my BSN and make sure I am utilizing my full potential as a team player on my health care team.

Managing Healthcare Resources

This unit was actually interesting to me.  I haven’t had much experience focusing on the budget side of healthcare, so this really opened my eyes. 

In my team’s discussion this week, it was clear that we all agreed where cost cuts needed to happen; however, it was hard to think of cutting staffing when we know how it is as a floor nurse.  We don’t want to become burned out, and we know this can happen without proper staffing.

It was interesting to see the financial perspective of this.  I don’t usually think about company budget, but it is crucial to do so in order to keep the organization functioning well.  Without a well-functioned organization, it might eventually shut down, which defeats the purpose of providing care to patients.  

In my current practice, I will utilize this information by being more aware of the supplies I use and how I use them.  I will also pay attention to the areas in which my manager requests we be more careful in.

I hope to be a better team player and help my company stay within budget without cutting down on quality patient care.  There definitely is a balance.

Firing-Discipline Interview

For this week’s interview about firing-discipling, I talked with Kyle Wright, who is the owner of a lawn care company, CutWright Lawn Care.  This was an interesting interview, because it was for a smaller business. It was interesting to learn of some of his experiences with firing or disciplining problem employees.  Here is the list of interview questions:

  1. What is your process of steps to take before firing an employee?
  2. Who else is involved during the firing process? 
  3. How many steps are involved from first offense to dismissal?
  4. What does your disciplinary plan usually look like?
  5. Do you collect anything from the employee before termination?
  6. Do you offer warnings before disciplinary action or dismissal is taken?
  7. If disciplining or firing someone goes wrong, or the employee responds inappropriately, how would you handle that?
  8. Do you give the employee an opportunity to “defend themselves”? Do you offer second chances based on what they say?
  9. After firing an employee, how do your other employees typically respond?
  10. After disciplinary action is taken or someone is fired, how do you motivate your other employees? How do you keep your other employees accountable?

The main thing I realized, is that there is a more laid back vibe with this business.  It is a small business that started out just with family members running it.  It has grown since this, but still is small.  He spoke a lot of one specific employee who needed disciplining.  It was difficult because this particular employee was his best worker in regards to his performance, experience, and relationships with clients.  The employee’s downfall was getting to work on time.  Kyle really didn’t want to lose him as an employee but knew he needed to take disciplinary action and go from there.  He had already given him multiple warnings (more than one verbal). Eventually he had to suspend the employee.  Suspension finally helped the employee learn the seriousness of being on time to work.  Kyle has yet gotten to the point of needing to fire an employee.

 After the interview, I took away the idea that there are many different leadership styles, and these styles reflect in how they choose to discipline problem employees.  I am sure there would be other businesses that wouldn’t have tolerated Kyle’s employee’s tardiness as long as Kyle did.  However, it worked out for Kyle because he said he didn’t lose his best performance employee and eventually taught him his lesson and had him show up on time after suspension.  

I hope when I am in a leadership position, I will be able to find a good balance of not being too laid back but definitely not too strict.  I think balance will pay off when it comes to the successful running of an organization.

Ethics in Nursing Leadership

I really enjoy the topic of ethics.  It was interesting to review different ethical issues in nursing and understand what should take place to present something to the ethics committee.  Before this lecture, I didn’t know much about ethics committees.  I learned how important an ethics committee is!  It seems they are under-utilized, too.  

The group discussions were beneficial in helping support my opinions with ethical dilemmas.  My team all had the same opinion on the ethical situations discussed from the very beginning.  However, I am positive this isn’t always the case on an ethics committee. I wonder how it would be to have opposing, strong opinions within the same committee.  I imagine there are times it is extremely difficult to come to a consensus, especially with such crucial scenarios such as life vs death.

After learning about ethic committees and understanding that floor nurses can suggest certain situations go to the committee, I hope to imply this more into my practice.  For example, as a hospice nurse, ethical dilemmas arise often (as they do in all nursing specialties).  I have had experiences where families ask about scheduling morphine, lorazepam, and haldol before the patient is actively dying.  Or, the polar opposite occurs and patients want to force feed an actively dying patient.  It is some times difficult because when I am in the patient’s home, it is only me.  My team isn’t just down the hallway.  I hope to utilize this information and avoid feeling like I need to make decisions all on my own; rather, be sure to make calls, postpone intervention and inform the family that discussion in the health team, or ethics committee, needs to occur prior to further action. 

Performance Appraisal Interview

This week we were asked to interview someone in a leadership position who is responsible for performance appraisals for their employees. I chose to interview Larry Wright.  He recently retired from US Synthetic.  He was the administrator for the Safety Inspections team.  The following is a list of the questions I asked him:

  1. What criteria scale do you use for performance appraisals?
  2. How long do your evaluations typically last?
  3. Do you include peer evaluations? Why or why not?
  4. How frequently do you hold performance appraisals?
  5. How do your performance appraisals tie into determining salary raises for your employees?
  6. Do you provide an opportunity for employees to express concerns about their performance or growth prior to beginning a formal evaluation?
  7. Do you feel like your current protocol for performance appraisals have lead to stronger relationships between you and your employees?
  8. How do you organize your performance appraisals with so many employees?
  9. What are some positive outcomes you see from conducting performance appraisals?
  10. Are there any negative outcomes you see from conducting performance appraisals?
  11. What role does goal setting and accomplishment play when it comes to evaluating your employees’ performance?
  12. How do you handle underperforming or problematic employees?

I really enjoyed hearing Larry’s responses to these questions.  There were a few points he made that I found particularly interesting and feel I will apply to my possible future leadership positions.  One of the topics that Larry really focused on was his attempts he makes to have the evaluations be a dialogue between him and his employee.  He said he feels it is very important for his employees to feel they can communicate openly with him.  He typically will give them several different opportunities to comment or ask questions during the evaluation.  He said this helps build trust and encourages his employees to understand their scores and have a desire to improve.

I also liked his response to how he handles underperforming employees.  He said that because he creates a relationship with his employees, it helps him address the underperformance without offending.  I hope that if I am in a leadership position, I will be able to address underperformance in a professional manner and successfully encourage employees to seek toward improvement.