Personality Profiling in (General) Practice

“Dr Ann Example looked across the meeting room at Dr Adam Fiction. Nice chap, talkative, lots of ideas. But, why do I find him stressful to be around sometimes?.. She pondered as she tried to think how his idea would affect her plans.”

“Adam paused for breath. Why doesn’t Ann seem interested in my idea…”

This post describes how we used personality type training at the practice to try and improve our effectiveness and reduce stress.

Practices are under resourced and under pressure. But the stakes are high and our decisions and results can have a huge impact on our patients. In this environment it is easy for friction to develop between staff. A large amount of practice time can be wasted dealing with conflicts. Sometimes people can fall out dramatically with destructive results.

To increase effectiveness at work, we know to invest in “hard skills”. These are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured, such as how to process information, follow procedures and protocols and use equipment and software. When considering aptitude for hard skills, we often think of the (perhaps controversial) concept of IQ.

But “soft skills” are important too. These are less tangible, harder to quantify and include skills such as understanding motivations – our own and our colleagues, listening, small talk and building relationships. These are also vital for individuals and teams to perform effectively. These skills make up our Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

“EQ represents the capability of an individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use this emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt environments or achieve one’s goal(s).”  – Wikipedia

Raising EQ can improve the performance of individuals and teams. An effective way of raising EQ is to increase awareness of differences in personalities and preferred ways of communicating and working.

Personality Profiling A GP Practice

Recently at our Practice, we designed and undertook a team building session based on personality typing. We used the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) system. The aim was to help the team to better understand each other’s personalities, emotions and preferred ways of working.

Continue reading “Personality Profiling in (General) Practice”

The trouble with NHS Choices… And a better way to do feedback?

“This is the most mismanaged gp surgery I have ever had the displeasure to use. Difficult to get appointments, impossible to plan around work, rude receptionist…”

 

It is difficult to see how any surgery could use this sort of general criticism to achieve anything positive. More often I find that this sort of comment leaves staff demoralised and defensive.

The premise of NHS Choices sounds superficially sensible. Provide potential patients with honest, good quality testimonials about GP practices. These rational and informed consumers will then choose to take their business to the best practices. The good surgeries are rewarded with new business. The underperformers will respond to patient feedback and improve, or eventually lose patients and go broke.

In most industries and under normal circumstances this would make sense. But, General Practice is not a normal industry and these are strange times. In an environment of clinical staff shortages, many practices simply do not need or want to attract more patients. They simply cannot find or afford the staff they would need to look after them. In addition, due to practices boundary rules, patient choice may be limited to only a collection of equally poorly rated practices facing shared recruitment and demographic problems. 

Feedback is powerful. Thoughtful feedback given with good intentions by a skilled tutor or friend can encourage a student to improve and excel. But, careless feedback can hurt, demoralise and block progress.

Feedback is a useful tool when applied in the right way to a suitable problem…

Continue reading “The trouble with NHS Choices… And a better way to do feedback?”

4 Things the NHS could learn from Disney

Working as a GP in the esteemed but overstretched british national institution which is the modern NHS can be tough at times. I felt this a little more than usual last week having just returned from my summer holiday in the artificial bubble and pinnacle of one of America’s own national institutions – Disney World –  the “happiest place on earth”.

Since beginning this blog, I’m always on the lookout for innovative ideas. Free association of unrelated concepts is a great source of inspiration. So I kept my iPhone in hand to jot down any thoughts that might help improve life and care within General Practice or the wider NHS.

lesson-for-nhs-from-disney-sketch

 

Continue reading “4 Things the NHS could learn from Disney”

How storytelling helped our CQC inspection

Sometimes you need to communicate a crucial point. To instruct individuals or a team to do something important. To encourage a trainee or team member to change a negative behaviour. It may be vitally important to a patient’s health or the success of your organisation. Fortunately medical training has prepared us well.

We know what to do. Present them with the facts. Support the message with data, graphs, risk ratios, tables and diagrams. This will help. Describe the options and the outcomes. Allow questions. Agree a course of action. Check understanding. Arrange to review progress.

People will then do what is best for themselves, society, or in the case of staff, the practice. Lose weight, complete the QOF prompts. They’ll be responsive to a logical case well made and do the right thing. Won’t they?

All too often, I find that, they don’t.

You will all recognise this story.

Tom is a smoker and we want to convince him to stop. We tell Tom that smoking kills 96,000 people a year in the UK, will shorten your life by an average of 10 years and that 80% of lung cancers are caused by smoking. The list of impacts and risks goes on. The logical case for stopping smoking is overwhelming. But, Tom had a friend… Bill. He smoked for 50 years and was fine. Until he stopped smoking. Since he stopped he had never coughed so much. He developed “heart trouble”, deteriorated and died. Bill always said that it was when he stopped smoking that his health started to go down hill.

“No doctor, I don’t want to stop smoking. It’s not worth the risk.”

Patients like Tom often show us the power of anecdotes and stories, and that they can be more compelling than the clearest of figures and facts.

It seems that many medics are missing a trick when communicating, motivating and leading. The use of stories and narrative are a great tool, and many professionals with technical and scientific backgrounds can under appreciate their impact.

Storytelling Pic

Continue reading “How storytelling helped our CQC inspection”