Healthcare Professionals, sporting events and code of practice infractions

The beauty of life is that it constantly presents new learning opportunities. Every conversation, every trip and every interaction teaches me something.

Today’s blog is about perception, belief, reality and perspective. Each of us has a unique view of the world. Our socialisation, nationality, life and work experience, and exposure to other cultures, to name but a few, influence how we think and what we believe.

Remaining constantly conscious of this helps us approach life with curiosity, rather than judgement, and to keep an open mind.

Topics for today’s blog are:

– “We are here” – align to succeed
– Sparked by sparks – learning from the unforeseen
– Healthcare Professionals, sporting events and code of practice infractions
– Mind the Gap – are your job descriptions still fit for purpose?

“We are Here” – Align to Succeed

Often, I am consulted in situations when a project needs a course correction and/or an acceleration and the responsible team must align on a course of action. Timelines are tight, the pressure is intense, and tempers are frayed. In this situation stopping to participate in a workshop may feel counterintuitive.

When participants know the company, the project and the deliverables intimately, and they represent different departments that are all engaged in a single project, I strive for a “belief reset” when I kick off the meeting. The goal of this is to encourage participants to relinquish strongly held beliefs on the best solution and nudge them towards contemplating alternatives with their team-mates.

My approach varies; however, typical questions are as follows:

  1. I ask, “why are we here?”
  2. I ask, “What is the ideal outcome of these workshops?”
  3. I ask them to paint/draw the status quo
  4. I ask them to map out the status quo, the current project plan and milestones

The outcome is alignment on the reason we are there, agreement on objectives, and the consensus that we will work as a team to find the best course of action. Using this material, I work with teams to help them to integrate their knowledge and experience and to find and agree on potential solutions.

At the end of recent workshop, a participant said to me, “when I heard you were coming to work with us I wasn’t sure that stopping to do a workshop, when we are already behind on delivery, would be useful. Now, we have spent the time, however, I see that we are aligned in what we are trying to achieve, as well as on timelines and priorities. We are clear on the next steps and we know where we are going and how to get there. So, I can clearly see the value.”

Key takeaways for project delivery under pressure: At regular intervals in any project it is worth stopping, regrouping and ensuring that everyone is still aligned on where you are going and what your ultimate goals are. In order to map your path efficiently, and adapt as needed, you also need to agree with the team where you are currently at: your current starting point. Overall, slower is faster, otherwise you risk running headlong in the wrong direction.

Sparked by Sparks – Learning From the Unforeseen

After sparks flew from a light socket and the circuits shorted one Friday, my flat was plunged into darkness. The only room that was still functional was my kitchen. I called the electrician, in response to his question of whether this is an emergency, I said “Not really, I can do without electricity over the weekend, it’s not urgent.” I did regret that answer briefly on Friday night, but the next two days turned out to be very interesting.

I navigated the darkness without torches or candles, just to see what it is like, then at some point I switched to candles and discovered their limitations. Things I learned:

  1. Doing without artificial light was interesting and educational
  2. Living without a computer/printer for one weekend was easy
  3. Finding items in cupboards/differentiating colours is hard by candlelight

I realised that while I adapted fast to non-functional light-switches, I became acutely aware of how grateful I am that I have running water. My days contracted to fit into the time when it was light outside.

In conversation with a friend recently we discussed the value of accepting situations as they are, rather than fighting them. Whether it is the lack of electricity, a delayed plane, a frustrating encounter with a call centre, a project delay, a work challenge, an argument etc. there is much to be gained by approaching the experience with curiosity rather than anger.

Key Take-Away: Sometimes an unforeseen situation offers the opportunity to gain a different perspective. N.B. I am not saying that every unpleasant situation is a blessing in disguise.

Healthcare Professionals, Sporting Events and Code of Practice Infractions

If you are interested in Code of Practice infractions, the UK’s Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PCMPA) website provides endless entertainment. The PCMPA is to quote their website: “the self-regulatory body which administers the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Code of Practice for the Pharmaceutical Industry, independently of the ABPI. It was established by the ABPI on 1 January 1993”.

In my last newsletter I wrote about the importance of thinking before liking on LinkedIn, and shared an example of Code Infractions. You can read the article here.

The appropriate provision of hospitality to a Health Care Professional (HCP), a category which includes any professional who provides health care including physicians, dentists, nurses, physiotherapists and others, is clearly outlined in the Code of Practice: appropriate expense, appropriate venue, business context, e.g., appropriate hospitality focused on subsistence may be provided in the context of a business meeting, educational exchange, advisory board etc.

In a recent conversation a colleague wondered whether attending a sporting event with an HCP who bought his own ticket is permissible and if yes under what circumstances.

Curious as to whether the PCMPA website had any examples of Code infractions linked to sporting events, I visited the website. In the example two pharma company employees agreed to meet up with a physician at a sporting event after having discovered they all planned to attend while at an international congress. The HCP bought three tickets at the door and was reimbursed by the pharma representatives. No expense claims were submitted to the company for the tickets. Similarly, no expense claims were submitted to the company for beverages bought during the course of the event. However, the PCMPA noted that after the event, drinks purchased in the hotel bar, were expensed to the pharma representatives’ employer.

The PCMPA panel ruled that although there was no evidence that the pharmaceutical company had paid for the HCPs ticket, the attendance of a Champion’s League football match with a UK HCP while attending an international meeting and providing subsequent hospitality gave a poor impression. The ruling on the PCMPA website was “The Panel noted that hospitality provided in particular at international meetings attracted much public scrutiny and given the poor impression given by the arrangements considered, on balance, that the company had brought discredit to, and reduced confidence in, the pharmaceutical industry a breach of Clause 2 of the Code was ruled”.

Some pharma company representatives have engaged with their HCP customers for decades. In instances where the company employee is an HCP, customers may be old friends from university or colleagues they worked with when they were clinicians.

In the example above, the representatives may have felt that as neither drinks nor tickets were charged to their employer, their attendance at the event was a private affair and that as such there would be no risk of a code infraction.

Key Take-Away: Beyond applying the Code of Conduct, also consider the context of an HCP interaction and reflect on the impression a neutral observer might have.

Mind the Gap – Are Your Job Descriptions Still fit for Purpose?

Companies are restructuring, letting FTE’s go but also looking for new talent. An article I read today about younger job seekers was interesting. Whereas in the past job seekers sought primarily to impress their potential employer, the focus of the modern job seeker appears to be on finding a good match, according to this article.

This is smart, it’s important to know what drives you to excel and consequently what environment you will be likely to perform in well. Large, medium or startup type companies are not created equal, and depending on your personality type, your preferences and ideal employer will differ. So knowing who you are, and then finding job opportunities in companies that can provide you with a setting in which you can succeed, makes sense.

What struck me though, was that how job seekers rated classic job description phrases according to this article:

  • We are looking for a self-starter was interpreted as – don’t expect to be onboarded
  • Must be able to multi-task was interpreted as – we have let significant numbers of people go and you will be doing the job of many
  • Flexible individual – was taken to mean – we expect you to work 24/7 in line with the needs of the organisation

Personally, I would be attracted by a job that is looking for a flexible self-starter with the ability to multi-task. More so than by a job that outlined my every activity and gave me no freedom to breathe. However, the article made me reflect on the possibility that perhaps today’s job seekers are seeking something different.

Key Take-Away: When looking for new recruits it may be worth reassessing the wording of current JD’s and what you say in interviews to see if how you present the opportunity is fit for purpose for your target audience.

I hope my blog provides you with some useful insights and, as ever, I look forward to hearing your thoughts. And if you have a challenging project or would like to discuss coaching to help you achieve that next level, please reach out for an informal chat.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer

Photo by Hans Reniers on Unsplash