Taking time out from our busy days or schedules to stop and reflect can often seem like a luxury, particularly in these days of financial and time austerity. However, it has never been more necessary to ensure that we as individuals and as organisations are making the most of every opportunity to improve the way we perform.
The writing and publication of the Great Interactions journey involved a lot of reflection within MacIntyre. The ability to self-reflect is after all at the heart of Great Interactions! I headed off today to meet the Managing Director of a West Midlands based domiciliary care provider who had done some reflecting of her own after learning of the Great Interactions project. We discussed how she came to set up the business to ensure positive experiences for the people they support after witnessing what we could call ‘anything but great interactions’ elsewhere! The desire to improve quality is at the heart of that organisations aim and was the instigator for today’s conversation, but the need for us all to take time to reflect on the quality of our interactions and consider how we can improve these ‘1% at a time’ underpins all areas of personal and organisational development.
Managers are often criticised for failing to remember what it is like on the front-line, and for making decisions that make it harder for people to do their jobs. Tim Smit, who was responsible for creating the world famous Eden Project in Cornwall, has his own approach for ensuring this doesn’t happen through the use of what he calls ‘Tricky Days’. Once a month all his senior staff’s names are placed in a hat along with a series of front-line jobs, and they spend one day a month back working in a front-line role, from selling ice cream to cleaning blocked toilets. Now some might think this is a pretty drastic form of reflection, but it is certainly effective and helps maintain a healthy respect and awareness of
how management can support front-line staff within that organisation.
In reflecting on the success of the Great Interactions approach to date, I keep returning to the fact that it has been used to create a story or narrative that people just instinctively ‘get’. Why would you not want to try to improve the quality of your everyday interactions whether in the workplace, at home, or with your family?! The challenge then is to encourage individuals to find that time to stop and think about what could be better, and for organisations to do what they can to support this, whether that be training, a supportive culture or the introduction of their own ‘Tricky Days’. If this can be achieved, the benefits will be there for all to see.