Editor’s note: “Power Skills” is a 12-part series with one article posted monthly exploring the nontechnical tools today’s health care facilities professionals need to succeed and excel in their career goals. See more articles from the series here

It is comfortable to keep our focus inward, our eyes straight ahead on the task at hand. It is easy to focus on the latest fire drill, the piece of equipment that has suddenly shifted states from working correctly to not. It is simple to focus on the mechanics of the thing, how fixing one gear makes the rest of the gears whir back into action. And in the complex times we currently live in, no one would consider it suspect if that was your approach to solving the problems within a health care facility’s physical environment.

It is vulnerable to direct our focus outward, our eyes trained on the people around us. It is scary to put our trust in others’ ability to help solve the problem for which we already see a solution clearly within our own minds. It is unnerving to actively listen to our colleagues potentially come to different conclusions on how to resolve that issue, one based on their own lived experience and gained expertise.   And in simple terms, no one would consider you unusual if these were the feelings generated when thinking about how to solve the problems within a health care facility team.    

There has never been a time in human history when our collective problems were solved individually.   Whether it was hunting down the creature much larger than us, tilling and planting a field full of grain, or erecting a barn, a place of worship, a place of care delivery, all these actions took a dedicated team paying attention to one another, gaining confidence from each other’s abilities, taking solace in knowing that our personal weaknesses were compensated for by others’ strengths. A simple, but not easy, solution to the complexity of our lives. A radical reminder of long-known, often-ignored wisdom. We need one another.

We’ve spent the past year exploring the many facets of power skills such as communication, social and emotional intelligence, critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, leadership, professional attitude, work ethic, career management and intercultural fluency. While each of these skills focuses on their own unique and necessary proficiency, together they provide an intertwined solution to making teams work better together on achieving a desired goal. Like a rope holding up a ship’s mast, their strength comes from the ability of each strand to rely on the consistency of the one next to it to remain steadfast in the face of pressure and other laws of physics.

Review and reflection 

The end of the year is a time of reflection. What have we accomplished? What remains to be done?   How do we want the new year to begin? What promises do we wish to hold to our future selves?  

Consider your communication with others over the past year. Are you empathetic, patient, observant, introspective and open?  

Think about your capacity for emotional intelligence in 2023. Did you model self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and effective relationship management?

Reflect on the critical thinking you’ve done over the four business quarters. Did you state your questions or concerns with clarity and seek orderliness in working with complexity? Did you perform due diligence in seeking relevant information while also demonstrating reasonableness in selecting and applying criteria? How about taking care in focusing attention on the concern at hand?  Are you persistent through any difficulties you encounter?  Have you exercised precision in your critical thinking to the degree permitted by the subject and circumstance?

Explore how you approached problem-solving over the last 12 months. Did you properly frame the problem in terms of its scope, context and perspective? Were you empathetic to whom the problem impacted? Did you break down cognitive fixedness to ensure you were thinking through solutions through more than just the lens of past experiences? Is your workplace a psychologically safe environment for your team members to feel comfortable to bring their ideas to the table?

Ponder your approach to teamwork over the last 52 weeks. Are you careful to ensure team members know what they can count on each other for? Is the team’s purpose clearly defined, and did you contribute to the collective understanding of that purpose? Did you consider to what reputation your team aspired and discuss what the team needed to do differently to achieve that reputation or fulfill the team’s purpose?

Deliberate on your approach to leadership over the last 365 days. Have you determined whether you prefer a soft or hard leadership style? Did you actively pursue leadership skill enhancement for yourself or your team?   

Contemplate your approach to a professional attitude over the last half-million minutes. Did you focus on the achievable while avoiding the trap of dwelling on past mistakes and instead emphasize lessons learned? Did you work to meet teammates where they were, looking for opportunities to provide support?

Ruminate on your work ethic over the last 2.5 million footsteps. Did you meet deadlines and follow up when you said you would? Did you act appropriately in meetings and other business settings? Were you able to manage your priorities and deliver positive results consistently? Have you shown initiative in the right instances, and were you willing to learn from feedback, recognizing opportunities for growth? Did you effectively work with others in your organization to achieve shared goals?

Meditate on your approach to career management over the last 7.5 million breaths. What does your long-term vision for your career growth look like, and have you taken active steps in your career management by establishing specific goals and career development activities?

Muse on your approach to intercultural fluency over the last 35 million heartbeats. Is improving your communication, language and problem-solving skills high on the list?  Did you demonstrate independence, adaptability, curiosity and collaboration?

Take stock. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished and hopeful about skills you plan to improve in the year ahead. Be thankful for the community around you that supports your growth and remain humble in your service to those who you count on. Be excited for the new facets of these power skills we can explore together in 2024. Be well. Be well. Be well.

Adam Bazer, MPD, is director of education at the American Society for Health Care Engineering.