Have you noticed that despite providing tools, equipment, strategies, while having medical endorsement and demonstration of functional capacity, some people still find it really difficult to return to work?
I’ve been thinking about this long and hard. How do I help a client who seems to be really resistant, return back into the workforce? It’s got me thinking about how much we focus on what a person can do.
The what way back when I was being introduced to return-to-work work, I had an incredible mentor and I was taught very early on in my career that we start with a medical diagnosis and from that medical diagnosis we extract functional expectations and from those functional expectations we can apply that to task performance.
It made my critical thinking very, very black and white and it helped me identify the what. We have medical capacity on a range of jurisdictions, medical certificates or statements today and they served the same purpose.
They help us understand what a person can do, and this feels helpful. It feels really helpful because it helps us to understand what a person can actually do. When we move to a person who can’t go back to a job that they’ve done in the past, we will immediately go to what can they do now? We call that a transferable skills analysis, so what knowledge do they have? What skills do they have? How do these apply to different types of occupations? Yet we’re focused on the what. Now for some of our clients, the what is incredibly important. It opens up a whole new way of thinking about their career.
It’s incredibly powerful. They go, I’ve got options. I’ve got choices. I’ve got hope.
I had a young man a couple of weeks ago with a brain injury and that’s all he needed to know from his rehabilitation counselling sessions was the knowledge that ‘there is stuff I can do’. That is fantastic.
However, I think as rehabilitation professionals and HR professionals, sometimes we get too caught up in thinking just because a doctor has said a client can do this activity or a physiotherapist has said a client an do an activity, or we have observed a client or an employee performing a particular task at home, this doesn’t automatically translate for that person that they can do that performance at work.
So then, what gets in the way when we solely focus on what a person can do, and we drill down to the medical and functional expectations of that diagnosis and we keep meeting resistance.
To be honest, it’s bio psychosocial model of rehabilitation is where this comes into play.
It’s attitudes and beliefs.
It’s other people’s agendas and it’s motivators.
When we solely focus on the what, we can often feel like we’re being clinical. We can often feel like we’re applying really good, best practice medical management. But we forget that there is a whole person attached to this diagnosis and these functional expectations. So, we need to get better at helping understand what drives and motivates our clients to return to work and focusing on the what they can do is only one part of a much bigger story.
So, I challenge us all this week. If we’ve got people who are being resistant and we can see what they can do and what they can do is really positive and has a lot to contribute to a workplace. Take a step back and think about what is difficult for this person right now. This is a great coaching question. You don’t need to ask them, but you need to get inside their brain, inside their emotions, inside their attitudes and beliefs, and start to identify why this has become difficult.
This is Jo from PurpleCo. Looking forward to sharing with you again.