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December 2009

November 2009

Unconscious Behavior: An Obstacle to Change

Allan Brown Posted by Allan Brown


Try brushing your teeth with your opposite hand, or sleeping on the opposite side of the bed, or place the mouse on the other side of the keyboard. Can’t do it, can you? All of these are unconscious behaviors that have established patterns, patterns that you repeat everyday, without consciously thinking.Changing these patterns and behaviors is difficult. 

Much of your work behaviors are repeated patterns. How you reach for the mouse, where you rest your elbows at your desk, how you sit in your chair are some of these unconscious events. 

What if you sit perched on your chair with a forward head posture reaching for your mouse. I see it everyday when I assess work stations. This posture usually results in neck, shoulder, back and/or head discomfort. Your solution often is to reach for the ibuprofen. 

How about addressing the problem and change your sitting posture? It’s typically not the choice because it’s difficult to change.  First, you have to ask yourself: How am I sitting? And, why do I sit like this? Am I sitting forward in the chair because the chair is too big or because the overhead lights are too bright and wash out my screen clarity? Are my eye glasses adjusted appropriately? Why am I reaching for my mouse? Is there no room to place it closer? Is my chair too low for my work space?  Is my knee space cluttered? Our bodies will adapt to the work space unconsciously, regardless if it creates good or bad posture.

If you are experiencing discomfort at your workstation, take a conscious moment and think about what hurts and what might be the cause. Make a change in your workstation and address the problem by changing your unconscious behavior. Use MEMIC’s  “10 Tips for A Perfect Fit” (available through MEMIC Safety Director) worksheet to guide you through creating a comfortable workstation.  It takes time to change old habits. 

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A Clear Observation of Organizational Culture

Clendenning Donna Posted by Donna Clendenning


Recently, I had the opportunity to provide back safety and core awareness training at two locations of the same healthcare organization.


The two locations were operated by two individual administrators and directors of nursing. The administrator of the first location has led her workforce for more than a decade. She is pleasant, open, positive, and an easy-going person.  Sixteen staff attended the training. They participated, and were generally vocal and engaged, and they had a lot of fun with the back safety quiz.  Team competition and a return demonstration of core muscle awareness and strengthening ended in a vivacious finale.  A basket of candies was passed around for the "winners" numerous times and everyone ended up with lots of positive reinforcement. The room was filled with cajoling, laughter, fun, and most importantly, learning. 


The second location had a similar number of staff attendees. This administrator is also a veteran of the organization whose leadership style is more business-like. While providing the same training content and style, the second group was quiet and more difficult to draw out.


What struck me most were the vast differences in communication and attitude between the locations, despite being one organization.  Among other things, in MEMIC's four-part leadership series workshop, we learn of the value of communication as it relates to performance.


Leadership is an activity, not a person.  Leadership comes not from titles, nor even necessarily from expertise, but from the relationships between those who choose to exercise leadership and those who choose to follow. These relationships may result from trust, shared visions or goals, sometimes shared pain, or mutual gifts of significance where leader and followers help each other feel an important part of something larger than them. Leadership draws its power from issues of the heart.


What I witnessed was the personal aspect of being a positive leader. The staff of the first location was clearly ready, willing, and able to do whatever it takes for the good of a common goal. The paycheck, or a reward, or a raise was not what learning was about for this group!


What culture are you growing in your business? Are you a leader of authority or a leader who draws their power from issues of the heart?