Reflection is defined as “the process of creating and clarifying the meaning of experience in terms of self”(Boyd & Fales 1983, p101) and Reid (1993) defines reflection as “a process of reviewing an experience of practice in order to describe, analyse, evaluate and so inform learning about practice” (p305).Many authors recommend the use of a model for reflection ( Reid 1993, Schutz 2007, Yeok 2007); so I chose Gibb’s (1988) model described by Yeok(2007) for my reflection in my nursing practice. It emphasizes on my feelings and thinking at the time of that situation and stimulates my self-awareness of the limiting factors and other perceptions of the situation. In commencing this management journal, I began my diary-style entries of my observations and my personal thoughts with dates. I focused on the issue of conflict in my workplace, which had been a major problem since long. I reanalyzed each entry at different times during my semester and added more information from my readings and my research.Gibb’s reflective cycle helped me to explain the events, feelings and thoughts (first three phases- description, feelings, evaluation) and to analyse what else could in have been done and what could be done in the future for better nursing practices (last three phases-analysis, conclusion and action plan) (Gibbs 1988 cited in Yeok 2007).
April 2, 2013
At first, I have been thinking of different issues in my workplace that required a serious approach, after attending the workshops of GHMB902. When I revised some recent issues in workplace, I felt the problems on several personal conflicts to be considered and to be clarified. Over the past few months, I received many complaints regarding the internal fights among the staff and its effect on the teamwork and collaborative care. I received notification from not only the staff but also the patients and their relatives regarding the poor delivery of care to the patients. I noticed that the issues mostly persist among some senior staff members and novice staff members. In the recent past many senior staff had been moved on and many novices were included in our team to ensure better health care to the patients.
However this change did not had a good effect in the team and there was a lack of interprofessional relationships among them. The senior and the novices became two groups and sometimes gave rise to some loud resistance among them which produced conflict among some members. Most of the time, the senior members tried to dominate the novice, which created some disparity among them. I realized it as a serious issue to be resolved, to maintain the effectiveness of the teamwork. This situation gives rise to some questions in my mind
- What are the reasons for the conflict between the staff members of different age group?
- How can it be resolved and managed immediately?
I did a good reading in search of the reasons for the conflict between the members of different age group. Researchers identified different generational cohorts in the workplaces (Zemke et al 2000, Duchsher & Cowin 2004 and Sherman2006). Zemke and his colleagues (2000) describe generational cohort as a group of people who share year of birth, history and a collective behavior as a result of their experiences. Their historical, social and political experiences had an influence in shaping their values, ethics and attitudes towards authority and professional aspirations (Duchsher &Cowin 2004). There are four different cohorts: veterans or mature generations, baby boomers, generation X and the Millennials who are also known as Net generation or generation Y (Zemke et al 2000, Duchsher & Cowin 2004, Sherman2006).
Their generational characteristics and work related characteristics differ from each other The veterans, born between 1925 and 1945, considered organizational loyalty as the important factor in work place and seniority is important to advance in their career. “The Baby boomers; between 1946 and 1964; value their individualism” (Sherman 2006) and express themselves creatively. They are known for their strong work ethic (Sherman2005) and they strictly adhere to their ethics. Generation Xers (1963-1980) are those who value their self reliance and the Millennials (1980-2000) value safety and security the most (Sherman2006), who born in the technological era. With this new valuable knowledge, I was able to recognize the difference in the values and beliefs of my group members, which I considered it as the main reason for the conflict among them. I decided to resolve this problem by applying some of the 7 habits of highly effective people (Covey 2004) in this aspect.
Be proactive (2004)
I believe that as a team leader, I should be the one to initiate resolving the problems of conflict among the staff members. I understood that I should be the example for my team members, in the way to solve the problems of conflict in the workplace. Begin with the end in mind (Covey2004)
I draw a picture of how my team will be in future, which will be able to resolve any problems or issues in their team. Even though I had an idea, I don’t know how my team members will receive my actions to alleviate the issues on conflict.
Think win/win (Covey2004)
I think the strategy that I pursue to solve the problem will be beneficial for both the parties who involve in the issue of conflict. Seek first to understand, and then to be understood (Covey2004) I feel this should be the first step that I should undertake, to realize the matter surrounding the issue. It may help to understand the problems, circumstances and their behaviors.
There are many recommendations from recent literatures for conflict resolution styles in the workplace (Vivar 2006, sportsman & Hamilton 2007, Hamdan 2009, Iglesias &Vallejo 2012). I decided to apply some of these resolution styles to manage conflict in the workplace.
April 8, 2013
I have taken the formal step to teach my team members how to manage a situation of conflict, at the ward staff meeting. I arranged a small education program, to make them understand the different styles of conflict resolution. I mainly focused on the styles of avoidance, compromise and collaboration. Robins (1978) found that avoidance is the most effective way of managing conflict for the short term. I preferred these styles because all the staff members in my ward were females and females mostly prefer avoidance (Cardona 1995) and compromise (Holt & DeVore 2005) for conflict resolution (cited in Iglesias & Vallejo2012).
Then I set up several groups of four members, in which two were senior staff and the other two were beginners. I allowed them to select their own group members and informed them to work together in the ward while on duty. I reminded myself to organize their shifts, so that they can work together in a group most of the working days. I thought, this approach will reduce the issues among them, as it was flexible for them to select their group members and will be easy for them to apply those resolution styles as most of them were familiar to their group members. I believe that this group activity will encourage interpersonal relationships among them, which will be beneficial for the whole ward to deliver collaborative care.
May 10, 2013
During these days after, my implementation of the first step, I did not receive any complaints regarding any conflict among my team members. I thought that my initial step was working effectively in the workplace and my colleagues were trying to resolve the problem efficiently with in their group. I thought I was fairly successful in my work to build up a cooperative team. I decided to assess whether my colleagues were comfortable relying on my initiation. I called up one staff from one of the groups and asked whether she was comfortable in their group and whether they were able to apply the resolution styles among them. I was surprised with her answer that, even though they are applying those strategies, sometimes they felt difficulty in solving the actual problems. I understood that, most of them prefer ‘avoidance’ as the management style, that enable them to ignore the situation or the issue, which did not solve the actual crisis.
This created a gap among them which limit them to cooperating completely. I inquired about this with other staff members from different groups and received the same reply. I understood that, with this resolution style approach, the actual resolution of conflict does not happen, as it tend to worsen the relationship among the members. I reflect myself with regard to this and I looked back at the research articles where I can find more about conflict resolution strategies. A reflection on nursing case study by Vivar (2006) explains that the trained nurses had a fear of consequences if they reveal their problem in their group. They think that the situation become worse when they reveal the problem, which requires more time and energy to find a solution for this. He says that trained nurses prefer to spend their time more with the patients than to solve problems. So they considered avoidance as the better strategy to manage conflict. In case of new staff members, they consider the senior staff as those who have more responsibility and experience and they can depend on their seniors at time of any need.
So they opt for silence in cases of such situations and deny the circumstances. Moreover, when avoidance exists for a long time, it may be dysfunctional, as it does not identify the existing problem. I myself am not happy with my level of conflict management, as the situation become worse than it was in the past. I felt it gone beyond the stage that I can manage. I was thinking what could be reasons behind the emergence of conflict among the team members. When I reflect back on the incidents, I felt that the problem of conflict usually occur when there is a communication gap among the team members. I felt that lack of communication skills and misunderstanding between them may be the reason behind the origin of conflict. When I searched for more literatures regarding this point of view, Robins (1978) pointed out ‘communication’ as one of the leading factors that stimulates conflict among the employees in the workplace. Gibbs (1988) question for analysis ‘what sense can you make of the situation?’( cited in Yeok 2007) enlighten my thought at this point.
I felt that communication failure may the difficulty to communicate among themselves that create the gap among them, which stimulated the situation to end in a conflict. Covey (2004) said “self mastery and self discipline are the foundation of good relationship” (p186). When compared to this idea, one should ‘master’ in good communication skills and thus he would be able to maintain a ‘self discipline’ while communicating with others. As Covey (2004) said public victory should be attained from private victory, there should be some changes in each person (private victory) to attain the goal, good interpersonal relationship and team productivity (Public victory). I planned to implement something in my ward to develop good communication skills for my team members. Better communication with safe understanding can prevent the problem of conflict among the employees in an organization. Communication should be effective for safe understanding. Jean Roberts (2009) define effective communication as the passing of right message or information to the right person in the right way at the right time with the right effect impact and outcome. During communication, we usually lack the right way, right effect, impact and outcome.
It can be concluded that the difference in the communication style ¬- verbal and non-verbal – may give rise to various arguments among the workers. My literature review also reveals that communication style also differ from each generational group, which leads to gap in the organizational skills that promotes conflict among them (Ayoko et al, 2002). Sherman (2006) also supported this stance and explained that millennial generation nurses report that their Baby boomer counterparts usually restrict them from sharing their opinions and bully them. This can be considered as a conflict due to a communication gap. Many researches prove that one of the main sources of workplace conflict is communication failure or lack of communication skills (Robbins, 1978; Ayoko & Hartel, 2006). Good communication skill can be developed with the help of a good team leader who is an excellent communicator with the subordinates. Sherman (2006) states that a qualified leader with effective communication skills is necessary to manage the staff members to educate and motivate them to be a skilled communicator.
The leader should be able to communicate with every team member with consideration in the differences in their values and beliefs of different generational cohorts. When the leader understands each of his team members, he will be able to coach them to for a mutual understanding, which leads to a healthy work environment (Kupperschmidt et al 2010). Kupperschmidt et al (2010) put forward a five-factor model of becoming a skilled communicator. The researchers explain it as becoming aware of the self-deception, becoming reflective, becoming mindful, becoming candid and becoming authentic.
The authors explain that becoming aware of self-deception means to be aware of the misconceptions that one holds, which prevents them from identifying the problem; whereas becoming reflective means to analyze themselves with the situations that one comes along and creating a new meaning for the events that guide for the future. Becoming mindful means to be conscious and alert of one’s own and others’ reactions including verbal and non-verbal. Being candid means to be frank and willing to spell out the truth about others (webster’s New world college dictionary 2004 cited in Kupperschmidt et al 2010) and being authentic means to be real and genuine ( Kupperschmidt et al 2010).
May 23, 2013
This is the point when I think of the question of the conclusion of Gibb’s reflective cycle ‘what else could I have done?’ I thought of a training session for the staff members to train the necessary communication skills. Formal training can improve the communication skills of health care workers (Sargeant et al 2011). Leaders can provide opportunities to the team members for their interaction by arranging different workshops or discussion forums, which motivates them to express their ideas in a different contexts. Mclaughlin et al (2013) support this approach with their forum theatre work shop, in which actors perform in real situations. This provided them a chance to evaluate their communications skills by themselves, which stimulate them to improve their communication skills. Gibbs asked again “If it arose again what would you do” (Gibbs 1988 cited in Yeok 2007).
I felt it as the right place to apply Covey’s 2004) sixth habit of Synergize, where I can correlate the above discussed five-factor model and the training sessions to improve the communication skills. I decided to implement the five-factor model of becoming a skilled communicator (Kupperschmidt et al 2010) through some workshops. It may provide a chance to the health workers to practice good communication skills among the members of the team. Conclusion
This dairy style reflective journal enabled me to reflect on one of the main problems of my workplace. It stimulated me to apply Covey’s (2004) seven habits of highly effective people to handle the situation. The habit of ‘First to understand, then to be understood’ enabled me to seek the reasons behind the issue and was able to find some suitable management strategies. I think I was not able to follow the principles of putting first things first’ and ‘beginning with the end in mind’.
It made me think as a leader as well as a member of the team. I also tried to apply the principle of ‘synergize’ to make my effort effective. This process provided me an idea about how to apply Gibb’s model of reflection at difficult times to reach solutions. It enabled me to think critically to find a possible solution that can be applied in the future. It also provided a chance to learn the mistakes I have already made, which enable me to think positively in the area of management. This reflective process helped me to create an action plan for conflict management that can be applied in the future.
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