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How to Create a Professional Work Culture

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Professional work cultureBeing a leader in healthcare is hard enough without worrying about your employees making it harder. Bullying, incivility, and inter-professional conflicts are consuming way too much of a leaders’ time – time better spent on more important work. To make matters worse, organizations don’t do a good job equipping their leaders with the skills and tools they need to address disruptive behaviors so that they know how to cultivate a positive and professional work culture. Therefore, leaders do what’s comfortable – they do nothing. As a result, not only do the good employees leave, but so do good leaders because they feel that they’re not doing a good job leading their teams.

Why aren’t organizations developing their healthcare teams?

Any time healthcare experiences a crisis that impacts finances and staffing, we can pretty much guarantee that one of the first “cuts” will be – EDUCATION. Or what I like to call, SKILL DEVELOPMENT.

Especially now with this fourth surge-who has the time, finances, or ENERGY to spend on developing their teams? Add a MAJOR staffing shortage in the mix and it seems like a no-brainer to cut skill development.

Yet, time and time again, leaders realize what a huge mistake it was to stop developing their people. Then they have to double up and spend even more time and money to re-develop their people when the crisis is over.

And here we go again.

Healthcare organizations are cutting the resources their people need when they need it most.

Why this is a mistake

  • According to the CPP Global Human Capital report, “employees in United States companies spend approximately 2.8 hours each week involved in conflict.” This amounts to a full day of productivity lost each month due to focusing on conflict (CPP Inc., 2008).
  • Rosentein and O’Daniel reported 71% of nurses and physicians surveyed said there was a significant link between disruptive behaviors of professionals and medical errors. 27% believe incivility led to a patient’s death.

Despite the many studies validating that disruptive and unprofessional behaviors are the cause of turnover, related costs, and poor patient outcomes, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, only 6% of leaders have identified bullying and incivility as a top priority. Yet 90% say bullying and civility is a problem in their organization.

If you’re working in an organization where disruptive behaviors are ignored, you don’t need studies or statistics to validate that bad things happen as a result. You know this.

If you’ve ever said, why can’t my employees behave like adult professionals, it’s because there is a fundamental mistake you’ve been making.

You’re assuming professionals know how to behave.

How many times do you come in to work, and there’s a line of employees just WAITING to complain to you about their co-workers? “So-and-so did this”, or “So-and-so didn’t do that”.

Aren’t they adults? If someone had an issue with their co-worker, why couldn’t they just TELL their co-worker? You know, peer-to-peer accountability!

Peer-to-peer accountability can only be established when you trust someone.

When people don’t know how to treat each other, they lose trust. Where there is a lack of trust, there is a lack of effective communication.

It’s no secret that even as professionals, we encounter ineffective communication skills every day. Ineffective communication can show up in many ways:

  • A co-worker giving the cold shoulder
  • Silently storming around the unit/department
  • Slamming doors/objects
  • A physician making false assumptions that the nurse can read minds

Just because someone is an adult professional with a degree and a license, doesn’t mean they know how to treat people.

Stop assuming your professionals know how to treat each other – TEACH them.

But how do you teach healthcare teams how to behave?

The good news is that cultivating a professional work culture is a skill that you and your team can learn.  If you want to create and sustain a respectful and professional work culture, you must engage in ongoing skill development as a team.

4 strategies to incorporate skill development into your work culture

Just by including ongoing skill development into your existing meetings, in-services, or huddles, you can experience what other successful leaders experience – leading a high performing, respectful, and cohesive team.

Here are 4 practical strategies to create a professional work culture:

  1. Identify your top 3 topics that if improved, would make everything so much better. Topics such as, inter-professional conflict resolution, reducing gossip, giving and receiving feedback, etc. Just pick 3.

  2. Find articles, tip sheets, video clips, activities, etc. all related to that one topic.

  3. Pick one topic per month as a theme. Deliver that content you’ve collected related to that topic. Include something related to that topic in your huddles, staff meetings, in-services, etc.

  4. Once you get through your top 3, pick another 3. Rinse and repeat.

We, at the Healthy Workforce Institute, have been working with leaders for over a decade and have learned exactly what they need to be able to set behavioral expectations and hold their adult employees accountable for professional conduct. My team and I have been helping healthcare teams across the country cultivate and sustain a professional, respectful, and healthy workforce culture.

It is our mission to create a world where disruptive behaviors are immediately rejected and kindness, respect, and professionalism become the new norm.

Create a professional work culture by developing your teams

If you are ready to make our mission YOUR mission, our Skill Development for Healthcare Teams is your answer. This eProduct gives leaders everything they need to hardwire ongoing professional development so that their teams learn how to treat each other with respect, hold each other accountable, stop the gossip, infighting, he-said/she-said shenanigans, etc.…and show up like professionals.

We’ve made it ridiculously easy for you to teach your teams how to treat each other!

If you truly want to create a culture that rejects any incidence of bullying and incivility and promotes professionalism, it can’t just be “sign this code of conduct” (note: signing a piece of paper doesn’t change behavior) or a one-time in-service on bullying. You can’t check a check box when it comes to transforming the way people treat each other. Cultivating a positive and professional workforce culture starts with developing your people.

You should focus on the PEOPLE within an organization because the PEOPLE determine the culture!

Imagine having a waitlist of people who want to work in your department because everyone goes out of their way to support each other – no matter what, and healthcare professionals feel respected and valued as an important member of the team.

Ah-what a nice world that would be!

Imagine being a leader in this world.

So-what are YOU doing to cultivate and sustain a professional and respectful team?

To learn more about Healthy Workforce Institute and the resources and programs we offer, contact us at WeCare@healthyworkforceinstitute.com

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2 thoughts on “How to Create a Professional Work Culture”

  1. Really appreciate the practice of “hardwiring” professional development to sustain a culture of civility and respect! Thank you for sharing this information that can make or break a professionalism in teams.

    1. Thank you for your comments Mitch! It’s so important that leaders continuously develop themselves and their teams. Professional behavior CAN be taught!

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The Healthy Workforce Institute is the global leader in addressing disruptive behavior in healthcare. Through our cadre of services, we provide the strategies, skills, and solutions to address any incidences of disruptive behaviors that show up in healthcare.

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