Back at it again…

I’m back at it again with the white shoes. If you don’t get that reference do the internet a favor and undertake a search for the reference I just made. The first assignment for this class asks me to introduce myself, but since I’ve already done this on the blog then I’m going to just recap the last semester and set goals for this one. 

Last semester was rough. My nephew committed suicide a few days before my wife’s 26th birthday and the following day my wife’s support animal, Norbert the deaf junkyard Siamese cat, died. It was a rough month followed by more months of chaos as her depression worsened. All this eventually lead up to me dropping a class unofficially and declining grades in the other classes I continued on in. It was without a doubt an unforeseen event that created quite the hiccup in my pursuit of happiness and education. 

I ended out the semester contrary to my desires but like a maturing child with hopes of becomes a mature adult, I pushed on and did what I could. This semester I’m taking two courses and I plan to blow them out of the water. This blog will serve the purpose of reflecting on my learning and assignments that I’ve accomplished. At times it may also serve the purpose of a safe environment to decompress in. Let’s get this semester done. 

Reflective Journal – Week 11

1. What did you actually learn from the unit.

It wasn’t necessarily new but a good reminder from the course this week was the story of Hem, Haw, Sniff, and Scurry. I was a good reminder about the different types of people and how they jump into action, or don’t jump into action, when change is occurring. I think the qualities discussed throughout the book are applicable across multiple stages of life and aren’t specific to work and the change one can encounter there. Aesop’s parable of the crow and the pitcher was something I’ve never read or even heard of before. Admittedly, I haven’t even read one of his parables to my knowledge. But, I enjoyed how change was discussed in such a simple way. The crow adapted and changed in order to survive. Sometimes that is necessary in life. Its ever prevalent in nature as it is with Darwinism, but that’s another story.  

2. Discuss your feelings/experiences from the team activities? Did it change your opinion on the subject? If so, how? If not, why?

It was neat to see how everyone viewed themselves in relation to the story we read. Opinion on the subject didn’t change. However, I did just think about the lack of hesitation that Scurry exhibits when jumping into action. I think to a point that’s healthy and a behavior for success but, to a certain degree. If government is making a drastic change that violates personal beliefs does the scurry personality quickly adapt thereby compromising personal beliefs in order to adapt to change? Hem and Haw state it well when they say that they have a superior intellect to that of sniff and scurry as not all change is good change. Sometimes taking a step back allows the person trying to adapt to analyze the situation for what it really is. I think this is even more beneficial than a knee jerk reaction to change as it allows an individual to gain a greater understanding and have a greater investment into the change occurring.  

3. How you will utilize the information learned in your nursing practice.

I’ll do my best not to bite the hand that feeds me…But seriously, adapting to change is important. I jokingly made a comment to my grandmother on her dying bed that I was going to refute technology and go primitive. She grabbed my arm and told me that I would do no such thing. She then pointed at herself and my grandpa and said that if I did such a thing I would end up like them, stupid. Boy she always made me laugh. I’m going to adapt to change readily with an inquisitive sense so as to be the best I can be. 

Reflective Journal – Week 10

1. What did you actually learn from the unit.

I learned that part of being a good leader is helping the educational and career development of those you’re in charge of. I mean I new this before but it was reiterated for me this week. The overall mindset behind staffing and what there is to consider was something new to me this week as well. 

2. Discuss your feelings/experiences from the team activities? Did it change your opinion on the subject? If so, how? If not, why?

It was interesting to see where people want to go with their careers and what they want to do. It has definitely got me thinking about what I want to do for a future career. I’ve been looking at joining up with the Air force and becoming a military nurse. I thought that might be interesting since I’m a bit of an Adrenalin junky. Plus, I love the discipline that’s instilled into soldiers and the fierce sense of loyalty. This is just my perception but I’ve talked to many people about this and this is the vibe I get. 

The staffing didn’t really turn out to be an awesome conversation. Sometimes I wonder why we have certain discussions. Some go well and others feel drawn out. 

3. How you will utilize the information learned in your nursing practice.

I’m going to make a stronger effort to look into other career options in the military and other fields where nurses play an important role. 

4. You personal feelings about the material covered.

The career development portion really peaked my interest as I’ve been wondering lately how long I can keep up with the whole nursing thing. I like to think that every patient receives the best care possible. But, that’s only achievable if the nurse isn’t burnt out. In one of my classes this is something we talked about a lot. I’m definitely going to invest more time into looking for a different career choice.

Reflective Journal – Week 9

1. What did you actually learned from the unit.

I learned about the goals for nurses. I learned what the ANA is doing to put nurses into leadership positions. Nurses are pushing for more input in government healthcare decision processes. Interesting perspectives about nurses and the perception of nurses were also discussed. Lastly, obstacles and challenges in nursing were discussed and what goals are in place to overcome those obstacles and propel nurses into the next level of nursing. 

2. Discuss your feelings/experiences from the team activities? Did it change your opinion on the subject? If so, how? If not, why?

Once again no surprise from this week’s discussion. We all agreed on what was said about the future of nursing and the goals to get us there. As such, my opinion on the matter didn’t change as there wasn’t any real new points of view brought to the table. I did, however, mention how I wanted to use nursing as a stepping stone to move on into a different field of study utilizing what nursing has taught me. I still don’t know what I want to do officially, but I’m keeping my eyes open and my ears to the ground. 

3. How you will utilize the information learned in your nursing practice.

For now, I’ll do my part to enable the goals in moving forward. I’ll try to advocate for the profession by maintaining the perception that we’re a trustworthy profession. I’ll take the initiative to provide valuable input into decision making processes. 

4. You personal feelings about the material covered.

I just feel like my personal goals aren’t represented by the goals that were talked about in this week’s lecture. I want to move into a non-clinical setting with an advanced degree that utilizes my education as a nurse. Granted the goals cover a majority of other nurses in the field, but I’m hoping to do something different. That being said it’s up to me to pursue my own goals regardless of what the goals are for nurses as a whole. I think that they’re moving in the right direction. Empowering nurses is an excellent thing but the profession is unique for a reason and it needs to do it’s best to stay that way.

Budget Interview – Response and Thoughts

1. On average, does your company meet their budget?

[Answer] Yes we do but we are unique in our budget to some degree. We are a corporate umbrella, so to speak that oversees and assists our manufacturing facilities and as such we do not sell anything to make a profit.
 
2. How often do you check to make sure you are making or are under budget?
 
[Answer] Each time a software comes up for annual renewal I confirm that what we have budgeted is sufficient. Also, as people express a desire to attend educational seminars I confirm that we have the budget.
 
3. How are audits of the budget conducted?
 
[Answer] Corporate Planning monitors our budget as to whether we are under, meeting or exceeding our budget. I monitor the budget throughout the year. We are sent a spreadsheet that contains our expenditures for the previous fiscal year to aid us in establishing something like our travel budget.
 
4. Who is involved in managing the budget in your company?
 
[Answer] Corporate Planning along with each department manager. Corporate Planning in turn reports to senior management.
 
5. Who is involved in your budget meetings? If you’re involved, what kind of input do you have in the budget?
 
[Answer] Myself and my boss who is the Deputy General Manager of our department sit down and discuss our budget.
I have say in the budget because I am the one who monitors the budget throughout the year and make suggestions for our department. I also go through and establish our travel budget.
 
6. What is typically the biggest expenses in your company?
 
[Answer] The biggest expense is personnel wages and benefits. After that it would be software which in one case costs us $65K/yr.
 
7. Are there certain expenses that tend to go over budget?
 
[Answer] Occasionally our expenses for tangible assets (computers) go over. When we purchase these we are buying computers that are two to three thousand dollars each. The reason for this is that someones computer may crash and we find that it is better to replace it than fix the computer due to the age.
 
8. How do you decide where to make cutbacks in order to lower expenses?
 
[Answer] The only time that I have needed to cut back is in our travel expenses. Typically I look at the most expensive places that we travel and try to pare those first.
 
9. In what ways does your company proactively try to save money?
 
[Answer] After initial submission they will send our budget proposal back and request us to pare the budget back.
 
10. Does your company have any incentives set in place to encourage employees to be mindful of the budget?
 
[Answer] No. (I suppose you consider their willingness to allow you to keep your job as incentive. 🙂
 
The interview was pretty consistent with the lecture. Man power is still the number one cost to the budget. I definitely see why big corporations are making such a push for more tech integration into their companies. I also didn’t think about recurring costs like annual software license renewals. Something I did like about the interview was the fact that the budget was monitored pretty consistently throughout the year. I felt like that was something that was missed in the budget assignment for this course section. 
 
Something that’s interesting is there is a budget in place for travel and education. I don’t think that my current company/department has that kind of a budget for people to go and further their understanding and knowledge about a specific topic. I think it’s important to tune your employees up in anyway you can. If that means setting money aside for people to go and learn then it should be done.  

Reflective Journal – Week 8

1. What did you actually learn from the unit.

As I listened to the lecture I learned about the importance of obtaining a full vision of the workplace. The numbers alone sell short and in order to make accurate budget adjustments more information is needed. I learned to navigate a budget/expense report on a basic level. I learned why it’s important to review the budget/expenses. 

 

2. Discuss your feelings/experiences from the team activities? Did it change your opinion on the subject? If so, how? If not, why?

The discussion this week wasn’t particularly engaging. It seemed to me that I had a different understanding of the assignment than my group did. It was also difficult to make changes and cut budgets only looking at part of the picture. The numbers only represent a piece to the puzzle and I don’t think you can make budgetary decisions based on numbers alone. In your lecture you mentioned tons of awesome information that/possibilities that should be consider when talking about the budgets. My feelings on the subject didn’t change. I still think, as a group, we didn’t have enough to go on in order to make a decision.  

3. How you will utilize the information learned in your nursing practice.

I’ll be more conscious about the goals we set as a department. I’ll try to be a better team player in accomplishing goals for the benefit of the department. I don’t think that the budget should be a secret because if it is how can I fully understand the purpose of our goals and the impact we can make. A well informed group of individuals accomplishes a lot more than a well informed leader leading a bunch of clueless people. 

4. You personal feelings about the material covered.

I said it in my response, but there should be a specific job held by someone who’s responsibility is to watch the budget and expenses to make adjustments accordingly. In a volunteer organization I participated as someone who oversaw finances. It was my responsibility to continuously analyze the budget/expenses of the organizations and provide monthly budget reports. In some instances some subcommittees in the organizations would outperform others causing more finances to be available to some. We would adjust goals accordingly and report to the subcommittees of the organizations as to how they were performing. It was a dynamic setting allowing people to adjust to unanticipated results. 

I think it’s important to understand that this is a business and I appreciate that you said this. I think there is a balance that needs to be maintained in order to best serve the population receiving healthcare (the customer/patient) and the one’s who run the business. 

Reflective Journal-Week 7

1. What did you actually learned from the unit.

Men and women come from different cultures. This is a common misunderstanding and it is often treated poorly. Men and women start learning how to interact, learn, and form relationships differently from a young age. 

2. Discuss your feelings/experiences from the team activities? Did it change your opinion on the subject? If so, how? If not, why?

I didn’t enjoy it. I’m a technical person and it forced me to make a choice I didn’t believe in. I had a hard time providing support for either sides of the conversation. It seems to me to be a trivial question or better yet, archaic. Maybe society hasn’t caught up to the point of seeing past gender and strictly seeing a person with a set up qualities and skills that make them a better or worse for a job, but I believe I have. I’m not setting myself on a higher plane here, but I believe that there isn’t a better of the two. It was kind of frustrating that my team members weren’t as frustrated with the assignment as I was. Maybe it’s because they’re just trying to complete the assignment, but man alive it seemed like they actually thought one was better than the other in their minds. 

3. How you will utilize the information learned in your nursing practice.

I want to be culturally competent. I want to make a stronger effort to view the differences between men and women as cultural differences. I grew up in several different cultures and I respect the differences. In all instances, in fact, I find the differences very interesting. I believe that if I can take this approach with gender differences then I’ll be able to work more closely with our counterparts. 

4. You personal feelings about the material covered.

I really enjoyed the videos for this portion. There were tons of great points and how to understand what’s really going on. I really enjoyed how both keynote speakers prefaced there presentation with the statement that what they are presenting is true for the majority of people but some are anomalies. It bothers me when people are audacious enough to lay it out there as the only truth and nothing else exists. 

Firing/Disciplining Interview

1. How often do you have to fire an employee? If you’ve fired employees, what was the reason?

[Answer] In my fifteen years of managing people I have only needed to fire an employee once. The reason for firing the employee was because this person could not perform the work duties required. I believe that the secret to this is to ensure that due diligence is done up front in the hiring process. 
 
2. Say you have an employee who is consistently arriving late to work. What are you steps for your disciplining process?
 
[Answer] In my current office environment we have flex time. That means there is no set time that employees are expected to arrive. We do not turn in time sheets. However, in previous employment we had to have strict guidelines for employee attendance. Incentives were offered (attendance bonus) to be to work on time. If for example an employee was on time to work for the calendar year they had $360 added to their paycheck. On the other hand if an employee was late to work one minute then $60 was deducted from their bonus. For the second offense $120 and the third offense $180 was deducted from the bonus. Additionally, the disciplinary system kicked in. With each offense the employee is made aware what the next step will be. On the third offense they are written up and warned that they would be terminated on the next occurrence. At the conclusion of each year each employee is given a review and in that review their performance is discussed. There are no surprises. They know where they stand.
 
3. Who is involved in the disciplining and firing process? HR, supervisors, etc.?
 
[Answer] Both the supervisor and HR. The supervisor because they are the one who has the first hand knowledge of the situation. HR because they tend to be better trained to hire and fire. 
 
4. What steps do you take in how you discipline someone?
 
[Answer] See answer #2
 
5. Do you have guidelines for certain offenses or do just take whatever action you see fit?
 
[Answer] There are company guidelines provided to the employee at the time they are hired. Some guidelines can be more flexible than others. If it’s something of a more serious nature (sexual harassment) then immediate action must to be taken. 
 
6. How do you decide who to let go/fire?
 
[Answer] This is based on individual performance. Poor performance merits poor reviews and poor reviews  results in finding someone to replace them.

 
7. Do you bring a witness into the room when you are firing someone?
 
[Answer] It depends on the circumstance. It always helps to have a second witness.
 
8. How long do you give someone to change their habits before you decide to fire them?
 
[Answer] If they cannot change their behavior in 90 days then there is something wrong. 
 
9. Do you usually get a second opinion from someone to decide if firing someone is necessary? Or do you make your own decisions. 
 
[Answer] I have someone that I answer to. I would seek my boss’ opinion before proceeding.
 
10. How do you deal with the emotions of firing someone?
 
[Answer] I don’t do well with confrontation. Know that it’s part of the job and not a personal affront. 
 
11. If a firing or disciplining process erupts, how do you bring it back down? And, has this ever happened?
 
[Answer] This has never happened to me. 
 
12. Provide a good example of how discipline went well for an employee and they showed improvement afterwards and an example of an employee that went south after receiving discipline.
 
[Answer] I don’t have an example. Sorry 🙁
 
At the end of the interview Clark, the engineering manager that I’ve been interviewing throughout the course, telephoned his brother Corey who has been in management for twenty years to ask him about questions 10, 11, and 12. He said that Corey couldn’t think of one case where an employee was put on a disciplinary plan who improved their performance. Instead they would quit. Rather than seeing it as an opportunity to improve and enhance performance they run from it. He also said that when someone’s emotions are elevated and they are yelling he said that he just stands there and looks at them. When they stop he asks them, “Are you ready to settle down and have an intelligent discussion about this?” He said that as a manager you cannot allow your emotions to get involved. Lastly, he said that when he fires someone he always has someone in the room with him or someone on the phone to hear the conversation. This is so that there is never a question about what was said. 
 
You know I’m not surprised that Corey has never experienced success in the disciplinary process. I think the name of the process almost predicts the outcome. No one wants to be disciplined. It’s humiliating and damages the working relationship. I think of all the times I got in trouble as a child and what the overarching feelings were at that time, and they were negative. It wasn’t until my parents would come back in and we would hug it out that things returned to normal. In the workplace though that doesn’t happen. Relationships like that don’t exist. People are seen as warm bodies to fill a need. Their intrinsic value isn’t actually assessed or rewarded, and people aren’t stupid and they know this. That’s why I think you see negative results from disciplining people. I’m not a business oriented guy but I imagine that the principles of managing livestock and workers aren’t all that different. 
 
I’m going to step onto my soapbox for a second here and say that primary education sets people up for this. My high school in Michigan was academically ranked on a national scale. I sat next to kids in school that accepted full ride scholarships to Ivy league schools including Harvard. But, one thing that wasn’t pushed as core curriculum was business related courses. I could list other classes that seemed pointless as the information provided is irrelevant in my current stage of life and current every day challenges that would’ve been beneficial to learn about were never taught. What if in schools there was a class that simulated a work environment where roles were established, goals were set, and the teams worked to accomplish the goal. I think this would be beneficial to people as they would learn the various practices of work. I think that a large part of inefficiencies that occur in the workplace are due to lack of training and education on all sides. So much emphasis is placed on a degree and capabilities/skill sets are tossed aside. People argue that skills can be learned and taught and the education and meeting the requirements are more important but if that was true then any healthy athlete should be able to play a professional sport. That’s not the case though. 
 
Take my current boss. He applied simultaneously for a job a Dixie Regional and at UNLV in their operating room. When he went for his interview he said they didn’t believe him when he laid out his military credentials and scrub/nurse credentials because he didn’t have a bachelor’s at the time. However, he outperforms anyone on the team and works diligently for the benefit of the team. Skills that create a successful team and generate positive revenue for the company were turned down because he didn’t have a bachelor’s at the time. Another co-worker I worked with at my previous job was similar. He only obtained an Associate’s in nursing but managed the transplant team in Hawaii. He was flown all over the country to assist in procuring organs from donors and many times his degree was called into question. Every time doctors who had worked with him would say that his skills far out way his degree. In fact, many people in the OR would come to him with tons of questions because they knew he knew. 
 
(Stepping off the soapbox) 
 
One reason I want to pursue an advanced degree outside of nursing is because I see other areas in which I’m passionate. I see other areas I want to have an impact on. I see things that are broken and I want to fix them. I see this mainly because I see myself. I am someone who is in constant need of improvement and I am not alone. I am normal and approaching someone who is normal with the attitude of disciplining instead of helping them fix what is broken is a gross error in my opinion. Engineers don’t look at a gasoline engine and tell it to get better gas mileage they look at ways  to improve it and work towards that goal together. I feel that current disciplinary practices see a worker as an art piece. They critique it in hopes that it will some how improve, but I hope for the day when I’m viewed as a work in progress with the goal of becoming art. 

Reflective Journal – Week 6

1. What did you actually learn from the unit.

I learned more about ethic committees and how they help resolve problems/dilemmas in medicine. I also learned more about myself and what kind of leader I want to be. The exam we took this week really opened my eyes about the qualities I do and don’t posses. I learned about the disciplining process and what the appropriate steps are to take to best meet the needs of the company and the employee you’re working with. 

2. Discuss your feelings/experiences from the team activities? Did it change your opinion on the subject? If so, how? If not, why?

We had some solid discussion this week but nothing really debatable. Once again we found ourselves agreeing on the topics brought before the team. As such, my feelings on the topic of this week’s subject didn’t really change. I would say they were enhanced somewhat, but definitely the lectures provided a lot more of a learning platform than the team discussion did. 

3. How you will utilize the information learned in your nursing practice.

I want to implement the best practices that were discussed in the lecture. I want to be a visible leader though. I know that leaders have tons of meetings that they’re supposed to go, but at the same time I want to work to the point where people know that I’m also a team player and not just a leader. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how it works out when the opportunity presents itself. Having been raised by an engineer myself I feel similar to a lot of the responses provide by the engineer I interviewed this week regarding evaluations. 

I enjoyed the material as I think it’s important. I’ve talked with other leaders that I work with and they tell me that there leadership classes were a joke and they learned nothing. When I tell them what we’re learning they all say that this class sounds awesome. They tell me that what I’m learning is very applicable and I’ve felt that to be the case. You can almost tell when you work with a leader that has received little to no leadership training as the team exhibits the follies as a result of poor leadership. 

Performance Appraisal Interview

1. Describe your process for conducting a performance interview.

[Answer] In the ideal case I would keep notes on each employee throughout the year. When the time comes to write the annual review I then have the notes to draw from in the writing of the review.
2. How do you ensure that your performance interviews are unbiased?
 
[Answer] I try to focus on the issue/facts and not the person.
 
3. How often do you give perfect scores on the interviews?
 
[Answer] I do not give perfect scores on reviews. We all have weaknesses and have room for growth and improvement. I will give perfect scores in specific areas that merit such a score but not a perfect conglomerate.
 
4. How do you determine an employee’s performance? Do you have a certain scale or rubric you use?
 
[Answer] We have work instructions for our department. We also have a chart that outlines each employee’s roles and responsibilities. In our industry an indolent employee’s performance will boil to the surface quickly. The company also has a code of conduct that is reviewed by each employee following that review a document is signed stating that they received the required training.
 
5. How do you determine the criteria for the scale or rubric? If you don’t create your own, who does?
 
[Answer] For the company the code of conduct is crafted in conjunction with HR and the residing corporate officers. For our department it is based on managerial judgement.
 
6. Do you use the same scale or rubric for all employees, or is it tailored to different roles and responsibilities?
 
[Answer] We would expect all employees to be to work on time, take only the allotted time for lunch and do their personal best in executing daily tasks. However; we cannot expect the engineering performance from those among us who are not trained in that discipline. So it is tailored to different roles and responsibilities.
 
7. Aside from interviewing the employee, do you do things like observe the employee or ask other employees to weigh in on the appraisal?
 
[Answer] The only time I would ask for input is when there is a problem child among us. We work hard to not hire those who would not integrate well with our group. We attempt to stem this by allowing other employees to interview the candidate in a group setting of two or three people.
 
8. Do your employees have specific goals to achieve that determine the outcome of their reviews?
 
[Answer] Specific goals have been established as a department where all employees in our department are expected to meet the established timing. Some of these things would be:
Releasing design change documents to the plants in a timely manner.
Getting quotations completed in the specified time.
Addressing OEM concerns in a professional manner.
9. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from doing performance interviews?
 
[Answer] Let the facts speak for themselves.
 
10. How often do you prefer to conduct performance interviews, and why?
 
[Answer] Annually (because they can consume precious time). These can be a double edged sword. Reviews are good because is causes you to better understand where each employee’s ability lies and so see current limitations. This requires time that could be spent otherwise. However, in not addressing those limitations the company would therefore be hobbled in its ability to deliver required/necessary services.
 
11. How would the ideal performance interview go?
 
[Answer] Discuss the employee’s performance. Have the employee acknowledge anything that has been pointed out and set goals based on that discussion. In this way each employee can increase in their ability to confidently execute their assignments. This in turn helps the company to perform better.
 
It’s definitely interesting as I compare and contrast class learning in comparison to the interviews I’m doing with leaders outside of Nursing. Not that leaders in other businesses don’t care, but it seems to me that nursing leaders are more caring? It just so happens that I’m interviewing an engineering leader and his answers seem more upfront and blunt. But, I think that’s because the mindset of an engineer is constructed and logic based so, the leadership style tends to reflect that. However, I did really enjoy what he said about allowing others to have input into the evaluations.
 
Something that I do with my older brother a lot is play games. This ranges from video games to board games and anything in between. It just so happens that he majored in computer science with an emphasis in game design. So, this is what we do. But, a commonly used strategy employed by many is the strategy of ‘king making.’ When a player realizes they can’t win the game early on but realizes that they can create an ideal scenario for someone else to win, who they might know and like, they make the rest of their remaining moves, decisions, and choices based off of what we’ll propel that individual to win. Now, if this happens in games why shouldn’t we assume that this could happen in real life?
 
I think that it does happen. I think that there are so many people out there playing king maker that it’s outrageous. It’s not a bad strategy as both parties will benefit. Even if you’re not the one at the forefront the person you put there will recognize what you did and you tend to benefit as well. In the case with the games we play as a family my wife gives me a big kiss and hug because I put her through the finish line first. In the case of government, lobbyist get tax exemptions and are allowed to continue in their unchecked ways. In the case of an organization king makers are promoted to middle management positions because managers realize what they’ve done. 
 
So, as the engineering leader, Clark, said, “Let the facts speak for themselves.” The more you incorporate into an evaluations the more biased it becomes. You remove the king maker’s allies and all you see are the cold hard facts. Of course it’s great to have team input, but just like medicine, no news is good news. If, people aren’t actively complaining about the employee to management and all the work is getting done then one can safely say that the employee is doing the right thing.
 
Once again principles from gaming are applicable in the real world. BOOM!