Coffee Break - Sarah McVanel

EP 11: Empowering Healthcare Through Recognition

Summary: 

Recognizing the unsung heroes of healthcare goes beyond mere gestures.

In this episode, Sarah McVanel, a recognition expert, professional speaker, coach, author, president, and founder of Greatness Magnified, talks about employee recognition within the healthcare sector and the significance of fostering a positive and appreciative work culture to prevent workplace issues such as bullying and incivility. She explains the challenges faced by leaders in feeling appreciated and recognized, and the conversation delves into the impact of recognition on employee engagement, trust, and organizational performance. Sarah and Renee critique traditional methods of employee recognition, emphasizing the need for more personalized and meaningful approaches. Sarah also provides insights into the significance of specific and timely appreciation, advocating for gestures like thank-you notes and individualized recognition.

Tune in and learn about the nuanced dynamics of employee appreciation and its profound implications for employee well-being and organizational performance!

About Sarah McVanel:

Sarah is a recognition expert, professional speaker, coach, author, recovering perfectionist, and movement maker. She created F.R.O.G. (Forever Recognize Others’ Greatness) to invigorate companies so they can see their people as exceptional and, together, create a scrumptious, thriving culture where everyone belongs. Sarah has 25+ years of experience training, coaching, and leading teams. From her senior leadership role, she founded her boutique firm Greatness Magnified. Proclaimed as the “Frog Lady,” she can be found freaking out perfect strangers (in a good way) by handing out squishy frogs and asking them, “Have you been frogged lately?” and then acknowledging their greatness.

She’s a Certified Senior Organizational Development Professional (CSODP), Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL). She is one of 1500 Certified Speaking Professionals (CSP) worldwide. She has a BA in Psychology, MSc in Family Relations, and diplomas in Human Resources and Healthcare Administration.

You can catch her kayaking in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter with her husband Mark, or cooking a feast (while listening to an audiobook on double speed). She’s a die-hard carb-ivour, amateur hip-hopper, and TikTok embarasser to her two kids, Justina and Simonne.

Coffee Break – Sarah McVanel: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

Download the “Coffee Break – Sarah McVanel audio file directly.

Coffee Break – Sarah McVanel: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Renee Thompson:
Plants thrive and grow in a peaceful, nourished environment, right? Well, it's the same with human beings. But what if that environment is not so peaceful? What if it's toxic? Welcome to Coffee Break: Breaking the Cycle of Bullying in Healthcare – One Cup at a Time. In this podcast, you'll get practical, evidence-based strategies to help you cultivate and sustain a healthy and respectful work culture by tackling an age-old problem in healthcare: bullying and incivility. I am your host, Dr. Renee Thompson.

Renee Thompson:
Well, Hi everyone! Welcome to the Coffee Break podcast. We keep talking about this bullying and incivility in healthcare, we know that they happen because they can, and it really takes dedicated leaders like you to actually do something about it. And that's what this podcast is all about: giving you the practical skills and tools to do something to stop the cycle of bullying and incivility. And today, as we wrap up, November, you know, November is the gratitude month, well, we get another opportunity to actually squash the badness by today, talking about how you can grow the goodness. And I am beyond excited to welcome Sarah McVanel to the show. Sarah is a recognition expert. So Sarah, welcome to Coffee Break.

Sarah McVanel:
Thanks for having me. I love your work, and I'm so thrilled to be on this journey with you, supporting healthcare leaders.

Renee Thompson:
Yes, thank you so much. I always see Sarah as like, we're kind of the yin and the yang. I focus on bad behavior, and she focuses on good behavior, so we really make a great team together, great partnership. But to officially introduce Sarah, she is a recognition expert, a professional speaker, a coach, an author, a recovering perfectionist, and movement maker. She created FROG, okay, which means Forever Recognize Others Greatness, to really invigorate companies so that they can see their people as exceptional and together create a scrumptious, thriving culture where everyone feels like they belong. Sarah has more than 25 years of experience doing training, coaching, and leading teams. From her senior leadership role, she founded her boutique firm Greatness Magnified. Proclaimed as the Frog Lady, which I love, she can be found freaking out perfect strangers, okay, now this is in a good way by handing out the squishy frogs, which I have my squishy frogs, and asking them, "have you been frog lately?" and then acknowledging their greatness. She's a certified senior organizational development professional, a professional certified coach, and a certified human resource leader. She is one of 1500 certified speaking professionals worldwide. She has a bachelor's in psychology, a master's in family relationships, and diplomas in human resources and healthcare administration. And I just have to say, I've known Sarah now for about the last 5 or 6 years, she is probably one of the most positive human beings I have ever met in my life. And just, it's infectious, just the positivity. And she does.

Sarah McVanel:
The kind, the good kind of infectious, the good kind.

Renee Thompson:
The good infectious, not the bad infectious.

Sarah McVanel:
We have to be careful!

Renee Thompson:
Yes, we do.

Sarah McVanel:
Healthcare folks.

Renee Thompson:
And just an all-around amazing human being that I know you're just going to love the conversation that we have together today. So, Sarah, just can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and how you stepped into this recognition focus? I'd love to hear that.

Sarah McVanel:
Well, the birthplace was healthcare. So this is why we vibe with each other, my friend, this is our roots. I had the good fortune of my very first job in hospital was as a hospital educator. And given that my background is psychology, I got a chance to go in and help build a recovery-based philosophy with non-clinical providers. In other words, the people who spent sometimes more time with patients and clients than the actual nursing staff, the nursing staff would way rather spend more time doing that than, of course, charting things, we'll talk about that. The point is, I mean, from, yes, true facts, so my whole career really started with trying to find ways to serve, trying to find ways to help the providers and the partners of the providers to be able to deliver exceptional care. And any time I went into a team where things were falling apart, and that, this, by the way, became formalized in my role in hospitals, was to go in and do those team interventions, which, again, is why we get each other, Renee, and why know your work is so important. We found, and I'm curious if you have found the same thing, when recognition is not present, it is fertile soil for bullying, incivility, lack of collaboration, and generally throwing people under the bus and tall poppy syndrome. Whereas if you have appreciation, recognition, believing people are doing the best they can, being curious, good listener, tuning into each other.

Renee Thompson:
Right.

Sarah McVanel:
It's very hard to create fertile soil for incivility when people see, hear, and value each other.

Renee Thompson:
Right, because if all they see is the negative, if all they hear or people complaining about other people and they don't see, I always look at, what does the leader focus on, or the leaders, the leadership team. If there's a constant reminder to their team about the metrics that they're not needing or the problems that they're having, and I know that it's easy to fall into that trap, but if we're not tipping that balance with recognizing accomplishments, recognizing even progress that we're making as a team, you're so right. It's just negativity breeds more negativity. And the people who may not have been uncivil before, all of a sudden, they start to become more disruptive, and they actually end up becoming, I think, a little bit more cruel because that's the environment that's that they're in. And so I love that you actually go in, and you help teams create a recognition-rich environment. So can you tell us a little bit about what that, what does that mean?

Sarah McVanel:
It means that everyone feels that their work matters and that they belong, and that includes the leaders. Because when you're describing that, we need to celebrate and recognize progress and effort and impact. The leaders need to feel valued as well, by each other, by their the people who report to them, I mean, goodness knows. Is there any industry with such a big span of control? Nope. Is there any industry out there where that many people report to one person and are responsible for millions of dollars, the most complicated equipment, do not have a say in all the things that they are ultimately responsible for? It just, we literally are not setting our leaders up in healthcare for success. And I come from Canada, and we like to rave about our healthcare system, and it's pretty great. And so many of the similar issues, right? So part of what I think can happen for leaders right away is to recognize your team are actually your peers. So start by recognizing each other. It seems like we need to start by recognizing our members, our direct reports, and that is true, we need to do that. We can talk about different ways to recognize we can get into that next. But may I just say often, what we forget about is we need to recognize the other leaders so that they don't feel alone and isolated in their own island.

Renee Thompson:
I want to do a hallelujah, I want to do a major like because, yes, we focus so much on equipping the leaders with the skills and tools that they need to cultivate a healthy work culture with their team, but what we also find is that there's a general lack of leaders not feeling appreciated, leaders not feeling recognized, and not being given even a simple pat on the back for the progress that they're making. And we're working with a very large group of leaders right now in our certification program. And one of the leaders started in this program very, he had a rough culture, really did not have what, I would say, the leadership skills to turn this culture around, but through the program that he's in learned those skills, and he has had so many aha moments. He has made such great progress that we wanted to highlight him in an upcoming either E-blast or magazine that we write. And you know what he said, But I haven't done anything yet. Like, I don't know that I'm worthy of being recognized. And I'm paraphrasing what he said. And I said, are you kidding me? You have made incredible progress. Yes, you're not where you need to be yet. However, you need to celebrate the progress that you've made. And we don't do that, Sarah. We don't.

Sarah McVanel:
No, we don't. And we are a whole industry full of high achievers, and good thing. You don't want somebody saying, you know what? Sure, I'll operate on your leg. And I'm pretty attuned. You know, I'll do my best.

Renee Thompson:
I actually … video about that before. Yes.

Sarah McVanel:
You know, accreditation comes along, and we're like, you know what? I just want to see. I just want to, maybe a good old 60%. Yeah, I'll be fine. No, we want 100%. The stakes are too high. And yet we, you and I both know that the patient safety literature shows that we are the highest incident industry. One of the ways in which we can honor and acknowledge that there is, it's very high stakes, And also, if we ignore the problems, it's like there's a reason why we have a surgical safety checklist because we needed one. Like, imagine if we had an acknowledgment and appreciation and disability checklist each shift. I'm telling you, thinking we.

Renee Thompson:
I was just going to say.

Sarah McVanel:
What do you think?

Renee Thompson:
Hmm, Maybe we should put something together. Because incivility, as I said earlier, it happens because it can. And without bringing awareness and reminding people, I always say you have to, whatever role you have in healthcare, you also have to be a chief reminding officer, reminding people.

Sarah McVanel:

Renee Thompson:
Yes.

Sarah McVanel:
That's so good.

Renee Thompson:
Isn't it true, though? Because it can't just be a one-and-done.

Sarah McVanel:
It's not a cheap, nagging officer.

Renee Thompson:
No, Okay. Yeah. Let's be clear. …

Sarah McVanel:

Renee Thompson:
Friendly.

Sarah McVanel:
Reminding, Good. And a chief coaching officer and a chief empathy officer and a chief curiosity officer. When we show up with people, then all of the roles that we have are in partnership. Because then you have to be the chief nagging officer. Then talk about responsibility on your shoulders. I think Brené Brown talks about that as over-functioning. We feel like we need to fix it. And granted, there is a lot that is 100% in the manager's responsibility and director's responsibility. I get that. And so much of what you and I know that contributes to a respectful, safe, physically safe, psychologically safe environment is literally in the hands of every single person in that.

Renee Thompson:
It's not just one person. I mean, it's not just the nurse.

Sarah McVanel:
It's not one person.

Renee Thompson:
It's not just the manager. It's not just the physician or the, it's, everyone plays a role in that culture.

Sarah McVanel:
And this is one of the things that I think when we step back, which I know, I appreciate that that sounds nice, and it's not always easy to do. I just, when, if we're in points of struggle, you're in struggle, so that you might as well take a step back. And here's something that I would invite every leader to do. Go and dig up a thank you card. You may have a box of them. You may have them in your office. You may not have looked at them in a long time, but let's face it, every single leader who's listening to this will have a thank you card that they've received, and it was written by somebody who cared enough about them, was valued them enough that this leader made such an impact, maybe at a pace and at a time when they were feeling more resourceful, maybe they were in a context that was had less, less struggle for them as a, as an individual, as a professional. Read what is in that thank you card because that is your greatness leader. That is the truth. So you may be feeling unresourceful, and there's so many things that you can't control, and there's so much that demanded and expected of you, some of which are reasonable, some of which isn't, and it's hard. We don't get stuck in that. It's not fair. I can't do anything right. This is unattainable, and it's still what the job requires. So go and see what other people have said about your greatness. So we often talk about giving recognition. In this conversation, I think let's talk about receiving and re-receiving recognition that we've had as leaders.

Renee Thompson:
Maybe that's being a chief reminding officer of our own greatness. And it's so funny you're talking about that, I have two places I have in my space. One of them is an email folder that I actually, I don't know if I should admit this, it's, I titled it Love Me, okay, and when I did a really great email from someone who recognizes the work that I'm doing, I just put it in there, and then I have a box where I keep some cards that, exactly to your point, somebody wrote me a card, they recognized me. Some of them are from when I taught nursing school. I was adjunct faculty. I love student nurses, and some of them are from my students. Yet, Sarah, I think I'm like many of us, where we don't look at the things that we're good at or the positive impact that we've made. We still, we tend to look at things from the lens of where we are, and we're not where we want to be, our deficits, or I'm not there yet, and I'm going to go back, and I'm going to go through my Love Me folder tonight, and I'm going to have these cards, and I'm going to read them. And I think it's a great reminder to do that every now and then, especially when we're being a little too hard on ourselves.

Sarah McVanel:
And those folks who wrote those, they took the time to write them. Think of it like this is a way of showing reverse appreciation to them. They may or may not know that you're ever going to read their note again. Now, I'm sure people expect that notes are going to be held on to, similarly, emails. I also have a kudos folder, although I think I may change it to a Love Me.

Renee Thompson:
I like Love Me.

Sarah McVanel:
I like that idea.

Renee Thompson:
Somebody loves me, yay!

Sarah McVanel:
I love it. Yeah, just please, please, somebody love me someday and love our self, right? Self-kindness is, treat others the way you would treat a friend.

Renee Thompson:
Right.

Sarah McVanel:
So why wouldn't we self-recognize? Why wouldn't we recognize ourselves the way we would recognize somebody else? So it's a great habit to get into to look at that. In fact, I'll give another tip for you and all of your listeners as well. Use your thank you cards as bookmarks, because leaders in healthcare are constantly reading, learning, growing. If you're taking your master's of nursing and you've got a textbook, stick that in there, because goodness knows you're juggling your full-time job and also being a student, and you're constantly reading, you're going to think, I'm not doing anything well, so stick your appreciation reminder right in there. Show some love to yourself. So before you even crack that textbook, you see somebody believed in me. And maybe you want to strategically decide which card, maybe the one from Renee versus the one from Ashley is the one that you want to put in there, because she talks about how you are an unwavering, constant learner, and actually being Ashley, being as lovely as he is. Maybe his one was about your persistence, so maybe you're going to switch them out on a week you're not feeling very persistent again. You know, it puts you into this more resourceful place, which means you are more likely to FROG. You're more likely to forever recognize others' greatness because the greatness reflection is in your world. So.

Renee Thompson:
Love it.

Sarah McVanel:
And then here's one more extension, which is like one more extension.

Renee Thompson:
Please.

Sarah McVanel:
Go and tell that person, because you're probably connected with them on LinkedIn, and if not, now's the perfect time, to say I just pulled out your thank you note, and you had shared with me such and such. I needed, I really needed to hear that because I'm going to school, or because I've just taken a promotion, because my team's going through a hard time and I'm trying to right the ship where there's, I've inherited a team with incivility for years, and then the person who wrote you the thank you note will feel good all over again, and they're more likely to keep writing the thank you notes.

Renee Thompson:
Oh my gosh.

Sarah McVanel:
I just, I'm a little bit in love with this whole notion of recognition. I don't know if you can tell.

Renee Thompson:
Just a little bit, just a little bit, just a little bit. Because, you know, we're in a recognition deficit right now. And I had this happen at a conference, and then I tried it at a conference when I was speaking where the speaker was talking about gratitude and asked the audience, is there somebody who's made a difference in your life? Think about who that person is. And everybody thought and gave some other descriptors. Have you told this person? And they said, pull out your cell phone. Text this person right now. You have made a difference in my life because. And I tried that at a conference that I spoke at recently, and I actually had people coming up to me saying that they got an immediate response from that person with just this outpouring of love and appreciation. And I just thought, I have just done a tiny, tiny bit in helping to move the needle a little farther along the path of goodness. Just again, we think all these positive thoughts about people, but we don't always articulate it in a way that makes sure that person knows we feel this way about them, and there's nobody better than you and being able to do this. And we share your research all the time. Seriously, all the time. If you're a listener and you've also been in our community, you know how we talk about how employees want to feel appreciated, say thank you, something specific, Thank you cards. That's Sarah's work. So, Sarah, can you talk a little bit about that, the research that you've done, and how employees really want to feel appreciated?

Sarah McVanel:
Yeah. Back when I was writing my very first book, while I was still working as a senior leader in healthcare, at the same time of writing a book, just before moving into my new role, which, by the way, I would still be in healthcare. I just love it so much. The only reason why I left is because one of my kids had a mental health crisis, and I had to be full time available to them. Good news is, listeners, he's doing great. He's adulting, which of course, is never an easy straight line. What I can say is, he's well, so that's, and I was incredibly supported by my senior team colleagues to help me transition into this next world, and I'm just so grateful for them. When I was writing my first book, we had to find a way of validating what we had been seeing for the last 15 years. So it is kind of those moment of truth with yourself that you say, well, can I actually prove it? I mean, if I'm going to stand in front of a hundred of thousands of people, somebody is, hopefully he's going to ask me, well, do you have any data on that? They're going to. I hope that they do, right? Especially healthcare folks. You're evidence-based.

Renee Thompson:
Show me the evidence, show me the evidence.

Sarah McVanel:
Right. Show me the evidence. Show me the money. Show me the evidence. So what we did is we went to an engagement survey company that has, most of their clients are healthcare municipalities, so you know, government and not for profits. And we said, okay, take a look at your entire database, every single data point that you have. So they have a quarter of a million data points just waiting for some nosy person from Niagara wine country, Ontario, plus nosy Canadians to say, hey, can we poke around the data with you? And we went fishing, so all of our scientific folks will know this is not actual scientific methodology. This is after the fact we're fishing around. And what we found is when we, when they isolated out the 20 least satisfied teams with recognition, and they analyzed those through a regression analysis to the ones that are the 20 most satisfied, there was a huge statistically significant difference in intention to stay, overall engagement, a value in your leader, satisfied with your leader, trust, yeah, trust in the organization as a whole, continuous improvement innovation. And I mean, the difference was not a little bit. The difference was, you had low satisfaction with recognition innovation, continuous improvement might be 37%. You feel recognized, it's 75%. And why, I mean, it makes so much sense? If I feel like my voice matters, and I don't have to worry that I'm going to be knocked down a peg through incivility, right? I feel valued for my, for calling it out, for challenging, for asking the questions, for doing a little bit of extra work, and for my new novel ideas. Then, of course, I'm going to share them. Same with when you think about your best boss ever versus the people you would never work for again. I know I've worked for Satan's mother, I have. I would pay money not to work for her ever again.

Renee Thompson:
Decision.

Sarah McVanel:
So, she is my muse of what not to be, and my other leaders who are great, they're my muse of what to be. So it makes perfect sense that the data would tell us. If you want to keep great people, you want to, you want people to trust you as a leader. You want people to trust you as an organization, and you want people to give their discretionary effort and their time, and then you want them to innovate. You have to appreciate, yeah. And so, and there's 1 million other studies we can talk about. We may run out of time, though, just the tip of the iceberg.

Renee Thompson:
I always say there's so much evidence out there we could spend all day and all night just sharing the studies that show the importance of something like recognition. However, Sarah, okay, let's talk about some of the common ways employees are recognized that maybe isn't the best way versus better ways. So can we talk about the pizza? Can we talk about pizza?

Sarah McVanel:
Yeah. Oh, yeah. All of our infection prevention and control, people would be very thrilled if we mentioned don't bring the box of donuts, stick them in the middle of the workstation, because not only is that not safe, but seriously, though, like, even if you brought in the box of donuts, what's the likelihood that the person who's gluten-free on a diet, trying to watch her health because they're in a diabetes unit and oh, look, we brought in donuts? Off message, and some people can't eat them. The next shift, they get the stale ones, or they didn't get it. So are you going to come in and give the nightshift donuts, and they just slap it in the room, or are you going to have to think? So there's a lot of challenges with the 24/7 organization. It's also often seen not as very fiscally responsible, because if I've now just had to run around my medicine unit and have to borrow the same pressure cuffs and we're all wiping them down just so that we could all share them and be safe, and yet you bring in $500 or even $50 worth of pizza. Somebody who was so frustrated in that moment about lack of equipment, they're going to say, are you, you got to be kidding me, right? So that's one thing. It's just not practical. And it's not also on message with everybody included. Number two, yeah, yeah, number two, it's kind of stale, no pun intended, it's not new. People need novelty. We need fresh. We would not provide medicine the way we did 15 years ago, so we can't be showing recognition the way we did 15 years ago too. And what is included in that …, your pet peeve is the pizza in the donuts, my pet peeve is only long service awards when we look at where we spend most of our money. Yeah, let's talk about, let's talk about that.

Renee Thompson:
Bring it on.

Sarah McVanel:
When you, bring it on, when you have folks who are not even necessarily going to be nurses or other providers for life. First of all, you already have a strategy that doesn't work. There is a time when people would really value getting their PIN. They value the milestones. And I'm not minimizing all the folks who are still committed to a lifelong career in healthcare, so we don't want to take that away. It's just how many of the organizations you work for are in such a budget crisis, that fancy thing that their grandmother or their mother would have gotten, or their father, has now become this like cheap watch or duffel bag, not even with the cubic zirconia.

Renee Thompson:
Wow.

Sarah McVanel:
Nothing says thank you so much for putting in the last 15 years of your life like a tote bag, you know? So.

Renee Thompson:
Wow, I feel bad if anybody's listening, like, oh my God, I just gave my employees a tote bag. So, I guess, don't feel bad. It's just that's the way we've always done it. Or because you have a budget right now, that doesn't afford the opportunity to give something nicer. We resort to things like that, but it's just not the best decision.

Sarah McVanel:
I don't want to bag shame anyone. I don't want to bag shame.

Renee Thompson:
Or … shaming.

Sarah McVanel:
In Fact.

Renee Thompson:
But no pizza shaming either.

Sarah McVanel:
No pizza shaming. No donut shaming. No. And again, it's, people are well-meaning. It's not like somebody wakes up and they're like, how could I waste our budget and make people feel the least appreciated, but spend a lot of time and effort doing it? That's not it at all. It's just, you and I had the benefit of being outside, and I work with every sector now, I don't just work in healthcare, so I see how other people are doing it. So again, this is seeing things from multiple vantage points. I want to give you some other ideas about what we could do. I mean, by all means, have the event. Ask people, though, what would they like that long service event to look like. I remember the last role I had where our team was responsible for putting that on. We even noticed, and this is ten years ago, people asking for a very different thing. We were going to the same Holiday Inn with the same rubber chicken dinner and people, you had a certain year of service, you could bring your partner or your bestie, but if you didn't, you couldn't. And the CEO would stand up, and they'd do this stiff shake, and half the people didn't even want to be on the stage. Like it was so embarrassing to them to walk in front of other people so we could even see that it wasn't. And some people didn't come because they felt like it was forced, it was fake, they had to work. So here's what the, what I wish that we had done and we would have still been there. We would have, we were moving in this direction is, I would say, So how do you want to celebrate long service? Get with gifts, that this is how much money would have brought staff together and done a little micro deep dive on it. Here's, transparently, here's our budget. Here's our numbers of how many people are 25. There are 42 all the way along. Here's what we've been doing in the past. What could we do? Here's our budget. Here's what we've been doing. What would you like to see? And just build it together. And then, when you try something, you can say, hey, organization, we've been working with these people, put their pictures up in the email that goes out or the post or whatever, and say, we're lucky enough to have this person and show diversity, show diversity of tenure diversity across the organization and say, here's what we're going to try, because healthcare is all about trying, experimentation, try and experiment. And then if people say, I never liked the bags anyway, you're like, oh, good, because if I had been the one to take away the bags, somebody would have wanted the bag, and they would have said, what? Where's my tote bags? So make it a we. Make it a we. Maybe people don't want to have a dinner, maybe they feel kind of what doesn't work with the workforce crisis. Nobody can get coverage. Maybe they prefer barbecue. Perhaps they'd like to combine it with the volunteer event. What about the doctors? Do they have an appreciation event? Should we invite them? Should we combine it? Every organization may be a little bit different. So look at what's not working as an invitation to experiment and then be super transparent about it. Just please, nobody totally cut your budget because that also speaks volumes. It's like people don't feel valued.

Renee Thompson:
You have to do something, and I, and tell me, because I'm sure that you've got some research on this that you've seen. But I think what's most meaningful, I know for me personally, is when I'm recognized for something specific that I've done and for that to be recognized, not just, hey, you've been here for 25 years, it's been here for 25 years, and maybe have a little collection of testimonials from your coworkers or something that's specific to me. And I just think that's so much more powerful. And people appreciate that more and feel more valued than, as you said, even a dinner or a gift, because as budgets … other industries, not healthcare, but I know some other industries. Somebody's been employed there for 20 years, they get a cruise, they get to go on a vacation, they get to bring their whole families. I don't think that's, I remember, in healthcare, when I was a new nurse, I got a turkey once for Thanksgiving, and I was so happy about that because I didn't have any money at the time. But I was like a turkey, right? Gosh. I mean, see my family for the next couple of weeks. It was so big. Just.

Sarah McVanel:
Yes, mindful.

Renee Thompson:
So, Sarah, in your expertise, what are maybe 2 or 3 easy ways that leaders can recognize their employees in a way that is meaningful to them?

Sarah McVanel:
So this actually beautifully fits in with what you were just talking about, how to make it affordable, and also how do we make sure it's fresh and more relevant to today. The research shows that 95% of people say, just tell me, thank you. How many? And you're that one. As I'm sure you are a visible leader, you probably aren't as visible as you'd love to be. However, when you see, and catch people doing something right. Wow, I've been here for three minutes, and I've heard you do to patient identifiers three times. Thank you so much for leading, your role modeling that. So notice it. Yes, it's expected, but notice it, acknowledge it. At the end of your email, sign off when you're sending an email, thank specifically too, just say thanks or cheers. What are you thanking them for? Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for your loyalty. Thank you for covering when we're so short-staffed, whatever that, make it specific. You're going to send me an email anyway, asking people for their opinions. You may not be able to implement everything to say, give me your ideas, and we're going to come right back. If my last suggestion, come right back to where we started the thank you note, because that nurse or medical device reprocessing or physician or whoever it is, will no doubt hold on to it for the rest of their career, and who knows who they're going to tell, who they're going to show it to. It may inspire them to go and recognize somebody, and you can still leverage what you were just talking about with including other people, too. Because if you have got somebody that's using long service example, and we'll wrap up this because I know we could talk forever, but I just want to give, like pull a whole bunch of ideas together as we wrap up. Just yesterday, I was speaking for a group of healthcare leaders, and what the cool, the lady that came up to me at the end, she said, here's my next step. I'm going to write a thank you to every one of my staff. I'm going to send an email out now asking people to tell me three people that you appreciate and why. And then I'm going to send out to three of our closest teams, departments that we work with and say, who do you work with and who do you value and why? And then she was going to go out to her customers and say, who are three people or three roles that you've experienced? One. And then she's going to put those together, and before the end of the year. So here it is. You and I are doing this. We're filming it in October for a November episode, so she will in, before the end of the year, she's going to give it to people before the end of the year. She's got two months of prep time. But you know what? You stretch it out, and she's getting and that, she will write the note and then inside it, what I said to her snip it, snip all these different acknowledgments and put it in the card.

Renee Thompson:
Oh my gosh, that's beautiful.

Sarah McVanel:
Easy.

Renee Thompson:
Easy to do, so incredibly meaningful. I always have cards, and my routine is every Sunday, my goal is to write three cards, and sometimes it's either my team, my clients, people in my community. It could be people in my family, my friends, but three cards, that's kind of my thing. Every single week, send it out to someone. But you've taken that with this leader to the next level. I love the whole asking your employees to tell three people, and what you value about them, or in some way, what you appreciate about them. I think that's so powerful. And oh my gosh, it's, wouldn't you say it's pretty much free? The only thing you have is the cost of a card, which you can get them in bulk. Super easy.

Sarah McVanel:
And if people say they don't want the tote bags, it's cheaper to get the, maybe, but you know, maybe your foundation has cards because they have like, you don't even have to necessarily go out and buy them or create them new. Use resources that you already have. And people don't care about it being a fancy card. You could literally take cardstock and fold it in half. I had a leader once who went out to her sister, this is a charge nurse in an OR. Her sister was a kindergarten teacher, and she said to her sister, hey, could you have all your students make cards for Nurses' Week? Oh my gosh. So the kids made the cards, and then the charge nurse got the kids' cards, and she wrote a little, like one sentence for each nurse. You would not believe how excited these nurses were. So, I mean, it was construction paper and random kids that nobody ever would meet, and the kids loved it because they love nurses.

Renee Thompson:
Oh my gosh.

Sarah McVanel:
You know, get creative.

Renee Thompson:
That is so brilliant. I'll tell you what, Sarah, this episode is chock full of just tip after tip after tool after strategy to even just get you started on that path of recognizing your employees and your colleagues, other leaders in your organization. And even so, we talked about this. So look at the leader in the middle. So, a downward recognition of your employees, a lateral recognition with each other, but even an upward recognition. How often do you think the chief nursing officer gets a card of appreciation from anyone in that organization, or the chief medical officer, or the chief human resource officer? Wow. Just imagine, to create an organizational culture where recognition is a habit. I think it's a beautiful thing. It really is. And I cannot.

Sarah McVanel:
It's something everybody can influence, right? No matter what level of leadership, you recognize one person, they're more likely to do it as well. So you want your CEO or chief nursing officer to be recognizing people more, recognize them now, right? Because you've just created a role modeling. You've created a, all right, I should do that. That sounds so good to get that. Yeah, I want to feel good by doing it, by paying that forward. I just, I think it's a great way to wrap up. What about this notion? You can actually help to navigate your own workplace satisfaction and burnout leaders by leveraging recognition, because all you need to do is write that one card, send that one message, send that one text, and you immediately feel better. You're yummy, endorphin hit by feeling. And that connection hormone, right? The oxytocin flow. So why not? Why not do something that makes you feel good by making somebody else feel good? Because, after all, that's why we chose to be care providers, right?

Renee Thompson:
Absolutely. I couldn't have said it better myself. And working in healthcare is difficult at best. But just by, I think, adopting some of your strategies, we can make it a whole lot easier and a whole lot better. Because I always say we have important work to do. And even going back to where you talked about fertile ground for incivility, if you really want to create that foundation where incivility is immediately rejected, start by looking at recognition, and I just love it. And I can't thank you enough, Sarah, for being on the show today. And all right, so there's going to be a lot of things in the show notes I'm going to send you the, you can connect with Sarah on LinkedIn. We'll have a link to her website, a link to all of her books. And oh, speaking of books, I always like to ask our guests, what are you reading, and what book would you recommend for the leaders who are listening?

Sarah McVanel:
I love Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown. I've literally read so many books that have so many books to recommend, but that one I think is really helpful because as much as we are all care professionals, not a lot of us have spent a lot of time understanding and using the language of feelings and emotions and understanding how they're similar and different. In fact, sometimes we are shunned and criticized for being too emotional or too sensitive, and so forth. So it's a great resource for folks to understand how emotions and feelings cluster together, really healthy ones and not so healthy. So I recommend that book to us, to everyone, because it kind of relates to what we do, right? What clusters with shame and criticism, right? Like in the incivility side, what clusters with joy and acknowledgment. So I think if folks haven't read it, I would even actually recommend listening to it because Renee herself reads it and kind of get bonus insights from her when you listen to it.

Renee Thompson:
Love it. Thank you for that. I actually haven't read it yet, believe it or not, it's on my list. I just haven't gotten to it yet, so I might have to move it up on my list. And let me just think, don't you have a book that's coming out, like maybe you have a new book?

Sarah McVanel:
No, yeah, I do, I do. I just love being able to serve the world through writing. And I never thought I was a writer. Isn't that funny? I don't know if you saw yourself as a writer, Renee, and yet you've got many books.

Renee Thompson:
I still don't see myself as a writer.

Sarah McVanel:
We're still finding our inner writing, writer, as we're releasing all these books. Yeah, I wrote a book at the beginning of COVID, released June 2020 for healthcare leaders called ROCKSTAR: Magnify Your Greatness in Times of Change, and ROCKSTAR stands for Recognize, Organize, Communicate, and Kindness. Because when we rock as a leader with recognition, organization, communication, kindness, we get the results. We get star results, Satisfaction, Teamwork, a sense of Achievement, and of course, Retention. So what, the latest book is one for women leaders, because I serve many female-dominated industries and sometimes specifically women's conferences and appreciation events. That's it. It's the ROCKSTAR for health leaders that led to the healthcare for women leaders. And it was a lot of fun writing, writing those books.

Renee Thompson:
Well, I read…

Sarah McVanel:
Those were kind of like my love letters to my favorite.

Renee Thompson:
Yes, I read your ROCKSTAR book when it came out a couple of years ago, so I cannot wait to read this one because I love that first one. So thank you so much, Sarah. Thank you for all of your great work that you're doing and really creating these recognition-rich cultures out there, which ultimately helps to make not only healthcare a better place, but the world a better place. So oh my gosh, I'm a huge fan, and I hope that if you're listening to this right now, even if you just implement one of Sarah's strategies, you're going to make your department better. And as she said, you're going to feel good about the work that you do too. So thank you so much, Sarah.

Sarah McVanel:
My pleasure. Thank you. It's been a privilege.

Renee Thompson:
Thank you so much for listening to this podcast and doing your part to stop the cycle of bullying and incivility in healthcare. Take care everyone. Bye.

Renee Thompson:
Thank you for listening to Coffee Break: Breaking the Cycle of Bullying in Healthcare – One Cup at a Time. If you found these practical strategies helpful, we invite you to click the Subscribe button and tune in every other week. For more information about our show and how we work with healthcare organizations to cultivate and sustain a healthy work culture free from bullying and incivility, visit HealthyWorkforceInstitute.com. Until our next cup of coffee, be kind, take care, and stay connected.

Sonix is the world’s most advanced automated transcription, translation, and subtitling platform. Fast, accurate, and affordable.

Automatically convert your mp3 files to text (txt file), Microsoft Word (docx file), and SubRip Subtitle (srt file) in minutes.

Sonix has many features that you’d love including world-class support, advanced search, collaboration tools, transcribe multiple languages, and easily transcribe your Zoom meetings. Try Sonix for free today.

Things You’ll Learn:
  • Recognition plays a critical role in creating a positive work environment and mitigating workplace issues such as bullying and incivility within the healthcare sector.
  • Data and research affirm the significant impact of recognition on employee engagement, trust, and overall organizational performance in healthcare settings.
  • Personalized and timely appreciation, including gestures like thank-you notes, holds substantial importance in effective employee recognition within the healthcare industry.
  • Implementation of robust recognition programs at all levels of the organization is vital for fostering a culture of acknowledgment in healthcare.
  • Healthcare leaders face challenges in feeling appreciated and acknowledged for their efforts.
Resources:
  • Connect with and follow Sarah McVanel on LinkedIn.
  • Follow Greatness Magnified on LinkedIn.
  • Visit the Greatness Magnified Website!
  • Grab yourself a copy of Sarah’s book, The F.R.O.G. Effect Workbook,  here!
  • Grab yourself a copy of Sarah’s book, Rockstar: Magnify Your Greatness in Times of Change for Healthcare Leaders, here!
  • Grab yourself a copy of Sarah’s book, Rockstar: Magnify Your Greatness in Times of Change for Women Leaders, here!
  • Pick up Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown here!
Disclosure: The host may be compensated for linking to other sites or for sales of products we link to. As an Amazon Associate, Coffee Break earns from qualifying purchases.
Scroll to Top
WAIT!
Do you want to learn how to avoid the 5 most common mistakes leaders make when addressing bullying & incivility?

Free Resources

Receive 33 Scripts to Address Disruptive Behavior When You Don’t Know What to Say