Intentionally Creating a Positive Healthcare Culture – A Leader’s Perspective
Part 2 of a three-part series on accountability, culture, and gratitude
People are tired. Leaders are tired. Sound familiar? It hasn’t been easy working in healthcare over the last several years. The current context of continuous ambiguity and change has posed a multitude of challenges for leaders. People are being asked to be resilient, to overcome, to stay the course. At the heart of what’s being asked of leaders is not only creating a healthy culture, but proactively maintaining it. When I coach healthcare leaders and executives, I often hear that people – at all levels – are stressed and challenged. They’re wondering about the future and if what they’re doing is sustainable. You may be feeling this way too. What would it look like if it were different for you?
SHARED UNDERSTANDING AND LESSONS LEARNED:
So why is it often so hard as a leader to “put your finger on the pulse” to know what is working or not working? It is often in the unseen energy- the beliefs, the mindsets, and the attitudes- that make up the milieu of the team. When setting out to create a thriving and positive culture, there often lives a gap in the optimal environment you aspire to create and the day-to-day reality.
I’ve walked in your shoes. I, myself, experienced how the value of creating a healthy culture became a critical and foundational leadership imperative. When I was a leader in charge of opening an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) and leading that same team through immense challenges during the pandemic, I learned that establishing a continuous healthy team culture took intentionality and communication. It paid off in dividends, as we were able to weather immense storms because the foundational groundwork of trust, respect and professionalism was codified.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE /WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF NOT ACTING?
Given the challenging current healthcare climate, I offer a way forward. Culture building can be a living, learning laboratory; the cumulative byproduct of small everyday actions formed and shaped over time. Daily informal interactions matter, and they add up to have an impact on a larger scale. Looking through a polarity lens, when individual behaviors AND a culture of shared values are leveraged, you help to create a broader organizational alignment in your mission.
We all know it requires courage to address what may need improvement or to challenge the status quo. What is the risk of not creating this? The building blocks of a strong cohesive team could be missing. When under stress, we face suboptimal ways of dealing with challenges and ultimately risk caring for ourselves and for others. What is the benefit of intentional culture building? A recent Gallup article supports that a greater sense of belonging can foster well-being and relationships, and serve to create an environment based on accumulated trust and transparency.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? SOME TAKEAWAYS AND SOLUTIONS:
What are a few foundational behaviors you can practice to maximize culture building?
- Be intentional, curious, and open to create small positive acts everyday
- Pay attention to the day-to- day conversations and relationships within your team and department. Notice what it is being said and not said, both publicly and privately
- Observe situations objectively for what is working well and share positive observations
- Be humble and willing to honestly face when something needs improvement
- Check-in frequently with colleagues for feedback
Right now, the need to address culture change and caring for the caregivers in healthcare are critical imperatives. Part 3 of this series will offer more on how gratitude and appreciation can support a healthy workplace environment in the face of stress and uncertainty in a healthcare setting.
If you’re curious about the work we’ve done in helping other leaders like yourself create healthy, accountable cultures, reach out at the following link.