Here is another installment in our series of posts on imagining the ideal organization in healthcare. This time we apply the thinking of the Great Place to Work Institute, the company that produces Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For. Ironically the organization doing these ratings did not score so well itself! However, their transparency on this matter is commendable and their principles are sound enough. The Institute considers trust to be the key factor in making an organization.
Many experts would agree, and it could be said that trust enables all the other criteria for greatness to exist. In their model there are six attributes of a great place to work. The first three pertain to the employees’ point of view and the second to that of managers.
1. Employees trust the people they work for. In healthcare, it is obviously crucial that, for example, doctors trust nurses and vice versa! Sadly, however, such roles are often in conflict. Trust is integral for the development of emotional intelligence and formation of positive relationships necessary for effective communication, collaboration, and cultures of respect. This includes a leadership understanding of what kind of structure is necessary to build trust and support the work of providing care.
2. They have pride in the work they do. In healthcare, professionalism is essential and can promote positive feelings about one’s job. Too, the beneficial nature of the work can foster employee pride. Leaders must provide clear and high expectations for professionalism, training when necessary for communication skills, and advocate for enough time and resources to provide a high standard of care. This contributes to patient and provider satisfaction, but too often the expectations are unclear, training is superficial, and resources limited.
3. They enjoy the people they work with. In healthcare, good relations between co-workers has been linked to successful patient outcomes. And one hardly needs a study to know that disrespect among employee has a negative impact. This is difficult to achieve in a culture of blame and/or scarcity. Too often staff have little time for managing conflict productively and lack skills and experience in working through it. Difference is not is not embraced or utilized for the vast potential it has to offer collaborative enterprise. Alliances may be perceived as a way to survive a toxic culture rather than working together for best outcomes.
4. Organizational objectives are achieved. In healthcare, the Joint Commission has stated a vision that “All people always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings,” a worthy and very high objective! Patient satisfaction has recently become something of an addition to that list. We are very good at this SOMETIMES with SOME PEOPLE. A good thing, perhaps, because it demonstrates our potential to provide a high standard of care. Yet, extremely complicated in a money driven system that has a clientele with vastly different abilities to pay, either for care or for insurance. A single payer system seems like the only realistic way to meet the Joint Commission’ vision.
5. Everyone gives their best. In healthcare, there are many forces impeding optimal performance, such as stress and bullying. Such problems need to be addressed but basic motivational factors are the key to enabling best performance. Nurses working on chronically understaffed unit or physicians working in a frantically paced clinic may start out with high ideals and performance, but human beings get exhausted and burned out when they are ‘at the fire’ all the time. We must take good care of our healthcare professionals so that they can provide excellent care and sustain rewarding careers. (Elizabeth Scala’s Rejuvenation Collaboration virtual self-care program is a great resource to offer staff and the fourth in the series coming up the week of Oct 21st 2013.)
6. People work together as a team. In healthcare, a team-based approach is fundamental and various best practices have been identified toward that end via employee engagement. Innovative methods for brining workers together, including medical improv and mixed group training, can play an important part in promoting teamwork. All of the above will help to ensure individuals can bring their best selves to their teams! When we build trust, provide effective communication training and practice along with the resources to do the work, we’ll tap into the expertise of all, eliminate wasted resources, promote the problem-solving and creativity of teams and have a positive impact on every problem we face in healthcare. This is why the vision of medical improv is so important! Surely these six attributes would make any place a great one to work for. The theme of trust, while perhaps to some degree narrowing the focus and making this list somewhat different than the others we have presented, does represent a basic organizational necessity. How trust can be measured and increased are good questions, too. Once again, we invite readers to provide examples of places exhibiting any of these attributes. And perhaps you can give us examples of healthcare work environments where there is a high level of trust and some understanding of how that trust was achieved
–Jim Murphy has a solo consulting practice called Management 3000, focusing on organizational development and change management. Formerly he led the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group, was Human Resources Director for the City of Boston Assessing Department, and served as a consultant with the Boston Management Consortium. His consulting practice includes management coaching as well as research and writing on employee relationships, leadership, healthcare and collaborative practices. Having produced newsletters for several organizations and being a frequent content writer for the”Confident Voices in Healthcare” blog, he is interested in writing and research opportunities, as we all consulting and coaching. www.manage2001.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Beth Boynton RN, MS is a national speaker, organizational development consultant, and the author of the award-winning book, “Confident Voices: The Nurses’ Guide to Improving Communication and Creating Positive Workplaces”. She specializes in communication, collaboration, & emotional intelligence for healthcare professionals and organizations and is trained in the Professor Watson Curriculum for Medical Improv through Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She offers medical improv training for communication, emotional intelligence, culture change, and teambuilding efforts. Her video, “Interruption Awareness: A Nursing Minute for Patient Safety” and blog, “Confident Voices in Healthcare” have drawn audiences from all over the world. She is currently writing a core text with F.A. Davis Publishing Co. tentatively titled Successful Nurse Communication: Safe Care, Positive Workplaces, & Rewarding Careers, practices as a Per Diem RN in a LTCF for folks with dementia, and a student of improv. Her complete CV is online.