My Inspire Improvement journey

Mo Ladele, FoNS Inspire Improvement Fellow

At the start of 2021 I was 17 months into the role of the clinical team lead for the early intervention community team (an integrated, multi organisation and multidisciplinary team), from pilot stages to commissioning. This has been the biggest challenge and opportunity in my career so far; lading and developing such a team during of a pandemic has been exciting and rewarding but also demanding and testing. One of the biggest challenges, aside from operation concerns such as capacity and demand, was facilitating integration and true collaboration among staff from all organisations working together. I was keen to learn new skills and methods to improve team cohesion, facilitate staff/team engagement/motivation and improve workplace cultures in order to help staff members feel valued, involved and happy especially during change.

In my search for self development, I came across the FoNS Inspire Improvement Fellowship Programme. As with anything new, I was excited but hesitant, more so on realising the FoNS way of learning was ‘different’, encouraging the use of individuals’ creative side, thinking outside the box and challenging our ways of working.  At the time in my role I did not understand the benefit of this or understand the need for this in my service area. However, I encouraged myself to apply and I got on the programme and six months in, I must say it has been rewarding.

For myself, I have met some amazing people in a safe learning space, I have learnt a great deal from them and with time the doubts, fears and that little voice that sometimes make you feel like an imposter began to fade. I have met like-minded people who are going through similar concerns; feelings which helped me feel less alone. From sharing problems to sharing learning and practices, to finding solutions and sharing wins. Our Thursday afternoon workshops became the highlight of my week, I had the opportunity to reflect on myself as a leader, slowly I feel I have learnt new skills and have new tools to support my team with on this journey.

Here are ways in which I have put my learning into practice with my team, from the first learning block:

From no ‘check ins’ to ‘check ins and check outs’. From squirrels to pumpkins to sheep and many more (all available on the interet)

Making our work-space feel safe, hearing how team members have been able to communicate their feelings and discuss amongst themselves why they feel this way without any judgment, felt good. I must say I was apprehensive at first to try this out, it’s not ‘something we do’ and I had a fear that people would not engage with it ,but as Jo from FoNS would say ‘what is the worst that can happen?’. Yes I did have people who were not comfortable at first and questioned why should we be talking about our feelings, but we were able to discuss this and move forward and have a laugh, looking forward to what will be the next check in we use. The benefit of using this exercise has helped team members to ‘find their voice’ and express how they feel, which in turn has brought them a sense of belonging and reassurance that their wellbeing is important.

From team meetings to team workshop

This was a significant difference for the team as we had never undertaken any workshops before with the team. Preparing for this was also daunting for me, in the sense of not knowing if I would be able to carry the team and co-facilitators (other team leads) along with me as for the workshop. On discussing with the management team I work with, I had a good response and they were looking forward to it as it was going to be different. We planned on identifying our workplace values and cultures as well as a group activity (superheroes).

I started to speak to individual team members as well as different professional groups about the upcoming workshop. Even though the conversations about the values and cultures had started before the team workshop, I was both excited and hesitant. On top of that, the workshop was planned for the Christmas period, which would mark the end of the year but also unfortunately marked the start of the Omicron wave of Covid19. I feared I would not be able to pull this off.

On the 16 Dec 2021 we had our teams first workshop, we had 2 groups and 2 facilitators, we had our check ins and discussed our cultures and value in the groups and came together at the end of the group discussions to share our learning, experiences and solutions as a team. We also completed a superhero group activity as a creative exercise (right). It was fun and everyone engaged, not all at once I must say, it took some longer to engage with the creativity than others. At the end of the session, the atmosphere was light, full of laughter and motivation. We were all encouraged and felt a part of the team.

Since the workshop, team members are more aware and conscious of how they relate with each other and address issues and concerns when they arise, for example they are able to voice how they are feeling and reflect on how this might have affected their interaction and apologise if required.

‘I’m proud of them.’

It has been a journey so far for me and my team, but more so a work in progress. Have we reached where we can be? I don’t think so, but we are definitely progressing and not just going through the motions. Is it easy? Definitely not, because in the midst of working to develop there are still work-place pressures, targets, deadlines and a pandemic; it has, however, been worth it.

As the next block starts in this journey of ours, I look forward to sharing more of our journey. Till next time


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