Example spreads like flesh-eating bacteria

Posted by Kristin Baird

It’s no secret that leaders are crucial in driving culture, especially when it comes to modeling and holding team members accountable for service behaviors.

We have been working with an organization on making necessary culture shifts. One of the shifts they are focusing on is taking ownership of the patient experience. While it may sound simplistic, it is foundational to creating a consistently positive patient experience.

They are making amazing progress in some departments but not in others. The difference? Leadership, of course.

“It’s a bunch of crap”

A couple of weeks ago, a nursing assistant observed a nurse engaging in less-than-stellar behavior. Taking ownership, the assistant politely addressed the nurse about her behavior outside the patient room. Using the language she had learned in training, the assistant asked how she could help the nurse in delivering A+ service. The nurse just laughed and said, “I went to that class too. It’s all a bunch of crap. Our manager says it’s all crap too,” and walked away.

It took courage for the assistant to speak up in this situation and, odds are, that she’ll be reluctant to do it again. It’s also no surprise that employee engagement and patient satisfaction scores are low in this particular department.

When managers discount the training and messages from senior leaders, they create an opening for negativity to spread like flesh-eating bacteria. In this case, one small cut from the manager’s mouth provided enough of an opening for negativity to spread quickly, and lethally, among the staff.

  1. Accountability Has Many Names
  2. Attitude is Contagious – Diagnose it Quickly
  3. You’re Just 2 Feet Away From Greater Accountability
  4. Service Recovery Takes Legitimate Empowerment
  5. How Do You Define Accountability?
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