Looking after your business and the performance of your staff can bring breakthroughs in skill development and self-awareness, writes Ultan Molloy

Having seen the way people are wearing their face masks in the last few days, I had a thought. Is it any wonder that we have so many unplanned pregnancies? Looking at surgical face masks hanging off ears, as little chin and beard cosies, mouth covers and nose covers, one can imagine the turmoil involved in grappling with a condom in the grips of passion after a few drinks! We are, much of the time, oblivious to ourselves in many ways, and external feedback is not always received as a positive input. Unsolicited advice is often received as subtle persecution.

We had our own company persecutory undertakings in recent weeks, with our long-overdue appraisals of team members. Joking aside, I think most of us, and more especially those who had not gone through the process before, found it a relatively painless experience. We take a collaborative approach, with the employee self-assessing initially based on our template, and with subsequent discussion and input from their manager.

We invite feedback on our performance also from team members, and look to better ourselves and how we approach the work of management on foot of that feedback also. The more prickly performance elements of course take some navigating through together, in the spirit of kindness, alongside delivering our business needs, and the person’s performance in the role, with its requisite responsibilities. It is most definitely a skill, and one I’m continuing to cultivate, having been complicit in both positive and poor experiences, both as appraiser and appraisee.

On a different note, I am ready to stop thinking and writing about Covid-19 now, truth be told

I’ve trained, and indeed delivered training, on it for the Irish Management Institute and with my own clients in pharmacy, retail, banking and other sectors. The breakthroughs in skill development and self-awareness can be heartwarming, and the lasting impact is always wholesome following the theory and role-playing of situations.
The Johari Window above describes our predicament here, acknowledging our humanity, and the challenges associated with it.

I was on a call earlier and the subject of patients’ blind spots came up when it comes to counselling. ‘The doctor went through it with me’ can never really be taken as a comprehensive abdication of our responsible efforts to encourage safe and effective medicine use. The ‘hidden’ knowns, as above, where you know something important about the use of the medicine, and given the patient doesn’t know what they don’t know, really need to be unearthed through gentle relationship-building and subsequent questions and thinking support.

We have formalised our company board structure also in recent years, in part to help us identify and address our blind spots there. Also, it adds an overdue formality and oversight to the workings of our company business. I’m in the latter stages of my own chartered directorship certification after completing the Institute of Directors certificate and diploma in company direction. “Just how busy are you in terms of your availability to join us?” I was asked on a call recently about getting involved in a company as a non-executive director.

It’s always important to make time for what excites and energises us. So, if you are looking to formalise your company board and bring on board an independent non-executive director, feel free to get in touch with me for an initial conversation. Operational excellence aside, it is at board level where the greatest lasting impact can be made in an organisation. In our case, for patients, for our teams, and for our communities.

On a different note, I am ready to stop thinking and writing about Covid-19 now, truth be told. We are unfortunately not fully out of the woods yet, and my trip to the Elbow gig at the end of August is still in jeopardy. We have Janssen vaccines in hand as I write this for the handful of over-50s who want that one, and haven’t been vaccinated months ago. It’s getting to the stage where there are reports of people are being vaccinated because they ‘had a Ventolin inhaler’ once five years ago, ie, they’re ‘at-risk’. Yet pharmacists are given a less popular single-dose vaccine, and advised to vaccinate a cohort who have already been invited for vaccination, are likely vaccine-hesitant, and a more challenging cohort to manage.

Not much there in terms of efficiencies or economies of scale, not to mention the amount of vaccine waste there is going to be, given the handful of patients involved. We could have been involved in vaccinating from our own vaccination centres, our community pharmacies, since last January, and now this. What can I say?

Anyway, we have a busy few weeks ahead now with some holidays being taken, and we’re hoping to have a few days’ family time here and there once the kids finish school. It will be nice to get a sense of the ‘old normal’ returning. There certainly appears to be more people movement in recent weeks on foot of the vaccination roll-out and its impact. I spoke to some colleagues earlier about the increased levels of mental strain the whole Covid-19 experience has had on our patients, communities and those close to us, so I hope you and yours are doing well.

Ultan Molloy
Ultan Molloy

Ultan Molloy is a business and professional performance coach, pharmacist, facilitator and development specialist. He works with other pharmacists, business owners and third parties to develop business strategies.