Strategies employed when entering a new job.

Strategies employed when entering a new job.


“When I’m not sure I often hide as I don’t want the boss to know”,  “once I understand the tasks a little more then,  I have time to do the bits I really like”, “I wrap her in a towel and cuddle and rock her, telling her that this is a good place and we care”. In other words the first person is saying they use strategies associated with  protection, the second one has learnt how to balance their work and the third has entered the engaged mode.

These findings came from Doctoral studies researching how the Health Care Assistant (HCA) manages their incredibly complex and time-poor role. The findings indicate that upon entering a new job the strategies of Protection are employed, doing only what is required to complete tasks and learning how to manage time and resources. Protecting their new role (income) and themselves these people provide the most basic of skills in the best way they can. Once this is achieved they become more balanced and in the HCA’s situation begin to offer the more caring gestures usually associated with this role, such as having time to give a quick hug and find someone’s glasses. Once balancing is achieved the person progresses onto offering strategies associated  the ‘being engaged’. Strategies such as finding time to sit and listen, to offer a longer shower, to give a hand massage, and helping other care givers, as they know how to juggle resources, time and tasks.

This is not a continuum as the person will resort to employing strategies of protection at any given time, or slide back into providing a balanced but not a dominantly engaged role when this is necessitated. The strategies are heavily influenced on time, resources and support available and respond to employer expectations.

Although this study relates to the HCA these findings are applicable to most occupations. The customer service person, nurse, teacher, tradesperson will all initially offer limited and essential skills  until they become more comfortable with their role. Progressing into a more balanced working role the person is able to offer more until they are fully engaged. It is logical that when needed a person retreats into protective mode, regardless of the title or job description. We as co-workers, employees and employers would benefit from being aware of the mode our people are currently working in.


Dr Christine Clark is happy to continue this dialogue;

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