The following Coach Leader is part of our ongoing series based on the characters created in my book, Heroes Need Not Apply, “How to build a patient-accountable culture without putting more on your plate.” The book shows how focusing on what matters most to patients, having the right mind-set and having a common direction can bring two people together to ignite an entire organization.
Our last issue left Jack and Jane discussing that the quickest way to build patient trust is to ask the right questions and then truly listen. It turns out, the same strategy works for increasing trust between staff members.
Jack knew from previous experience that to improve an organization’s culture, you first have to improve the quality of interactions people are having with each other. To measure change and progress, Jack and Jane set out to develop a tool that would help everyone in the organization contribute to improving the quality of their interactions. We join Jack and Jane after Jack just broached the subject of building a tool to help them advance their culture...
“Jack,” said Jane, “Are you sure this is the right way to go… the last thing we need is another survey that provides us with a bunch of data we can’t do anything with.”
“I agree wholeheartedly Jane. We can design a tool that not only helps us get clarity on what’s going on in the trenches… it gives us cues on a regular basis that forces us to examine if our culture is contributing to or hindering care… and it brings culture to the forefront of our conversations rather than leaving them to lurk in the hallways.”
“You mean, we can develop questions that will get them all talking amongst themselves?”
Jack smiled, “Exactly. Every physician, nurse and staff member in this hospital has strong feelings about this organizations culture even though we may not directly address the issue. We'll make culture become part of everyone’s daily conversation just like everything else around here. This is how we clarify what culture is and how to change it. This is our cultural strategy".
“Got it,” said Jane. “ We need to set a little context for what our culture should and can look like. When it comes to patient safety, all of our people believe checklists are a tangible way they can contribute to improving safety… but with culture, they don’t know what to look for or what they can actually do to change things.”
Jack said, “ Patient Safety is a great example Jane. What if the first question we asked was something like: Does our organization’s culture make patients safer?”
“I love it. They might not be able to define what culture is yet…”
Jack interrupted,”Or how we see our culture becoming…”
“Yep. But we all have perspective to share when it comes to if our culture is positively or negatively influencing patent safety.”
“Exactly. The insights we’ll collect will be beneficial, but what's even more important to me is that we are helping everyone begin to see how our culture can impact things as important as patient safety."
“Yeah Jack, there is a lot going on out there and most of us forget to see that our culture either drives or hinders safety. For instance, maybe… hopefully not… but maybe we find that certain departments feel that safety is sometimes compromised because of the way people interact with each other… but they have no idea what to do about it.”
Jack added on, “It’s not a stretch to say that many of us have just come to accept these types of interactions as business as usual.”
“But that’s about to change. This tool will bring quality interactions to the forefront of everyone’s mind and let them know how they can contribute to changing things around here.”
“And as you said earlier Jane, it begins with us helping everyone to see how we can all play a role in improving culture. As leaders we can instigate bottom-up change by setting needed context...this will give them the tools to make changes on a local level. I just read an article titled: Reinventing Healthcare: 5 Strategies for Successfully Leading Change. And the author actually defined culture as a business imperative - let me read you this one part: “Culture no longer is about the soft side of business. Without the "right" culture, the best-laid operational plans will stagnate in the vertical hierarchy or fail from poor execution.”
“It’s good to know we’re not the only people going down this path,” said Jane, “Culture is finally being recognized for what it is… the most important factor in making our hospital more patient centered.”
Jack and Jane continued on with the survey working to determine what they really need to know on an ongoing basis. Join us next time as they continue to shape their cultural assessment tool.
Here’s the link to the article quoted in their conversation:
See you next time.
Is your culture aligned to what matters most to patients?...