Coffee Break - Debbie Pierson (1)

EP 16: Courage, Leadership, and Learning: All You Need For A Healthy Workforce Environment

Summary: 

Negative workplace attitudes can negatively impact patients; positive ones lead to positive outcomes.

In this episode, Renee Thompson introduces Debbie Pierson, Nurse Manager at Kaiser Permanente, who shares her remarkable journey in transforming her unit’s culture with the help of the Healthy Workforce Institute. With over 23 years of nursing experience, Debbie leads over 150 staff and is credited with innovative care approaches and advocating for safe patient care. In this conversation, she highlights that a healthy work environment has also transformed her personal life, emphasizes the importance of breaking the fear barrier between staff and leadership, and underscores the need to confront disruptive behavior and trust the process. Debbie discusses the role of frontline staff involvement, evidence-based practices, and maintaining consistency in organizational strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing practical examples like recognizing champions, incorporating department norms, and fostering a culture of kindness. 

Tune in and learn how fostering a healthy workforce culture can lead to success in any situation!

About Debbie Pierson:

In 1998, Debbie Pierson started her nursing career, specializing in obstetrical nursing. Over the course of 23 years, she rose to become the Nurse Manager of a delivery unit at Kaiser Permanente. With a team of over 150 staff, Debbie is renowned for her innovative care delivery approaches and unwavering advocacy for safe patient care. A true leader, she champions the motto of ‘Every patient, every time.’

Now, she continues to shape the culture of her department, fostering an environment where staff feel empowered and leadership is approachable. Debbie’s influence extends beyond her daily responsibilities, as she actively shares her experiences and strategies to cultivate a healthy work culture.

She loves to read and improves daily. Debbie currently resides in Gilroy, California, a place she loves for its garlic-infused air. 

CB_Debbie Pierson : Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

CB_Debbie Pierson : 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, Doctor Renee Thompson.

Renee Thompson:
Hi everyone! Welcome back to the Coffee Break podcast. As you know, bullying and incivility happen because they can, and it really takes dedicated leaders like all of you to do something to stop it, and that's what this podcast is all about. It's giving you the practical tools, tips, and strategies for you to take action against bullying and incivility. Today, we're going to be talking to, who know, Deb, I think you're one of my favorite humans on Earth.

Debbie Pierson:
This feeling is mutual.

Renee Thompson:
Well, thank you, Deb Pierson. And I want to tell you a little bit more about Deb before I officially introduce her with her bio. Deb and I met about 3 or 4 years ago now, I can't remember. Was it three, four?

Debbie Pierson:
Four.

Renee Thompson:
Four years ago, when I was hired by her organization to implement our Department Culture Change initiative. And this is where we go into an organization, we pick three departments, and we do what I'd lovingly refer to as a deep dive, and I met Deb. Deb was one of the managers of a department, and Deb was really struggling. She wanted to cultivate a healthy work culture. She wanted to address bad behaviors, but just didn't know how. And I fell in love with Deb, I think, the first day I had a conversation with her because she was just so genuine. And I will tell you, we worked really hard to actually transform her culture. And today, I love it when we're together. Deb will say, I am the face of Healthy Workforce. Everything is Healthy Workforce. She has transformed her department. And would you say, Deb, you've transformed yourself as a human being?

Debbie Pierson:
Yes, Healthy Workforce has not only just impacted our work environment, it's impacted my life. Definitely has impacted. It came in a time of my life where I needed it, needed something like this. So yeah, it's definitely.

Renee Thompson:
You are definitely one of our superstar students if I could call you a student at the time because now you're the teacher. You teach this now with other leaders in your organization, and it's just been unbelievably gratifying to know where you started and where you are right now, and that, how you're making a positive impact in other leaders and other departments. So I just wanted to tell you a little bit more about Deb. She started her nursing career over 23 years ago and really focused on obstetrical nursing, where she currently works as a nurse manager of a busy tertiary care, labor, and delivery unit at Kaiser Permanente. I will tell you, Women's and Infant Services, Labor and Delivery Department are some of our most popular departments that we actually do work with. Deb has over 150 staff under her leadership. She is credited for innovative approaches to care delivery in leading with a focus on advocating for safe patient care by embodying her motto 'Every patient, every time'. I just love that. The transition of the culture on the labor and delivery unit can be credited to the work that she did with us, and really providing them with the tools that she needed to cultivate a healthy work culture. These are some of the things in Deb's life that she's most proud of. Deb lives in Gilroy, California, which I was, I didn't know that about Deb. I love Gilroy, California. I love garlic, and it's like the garlic capital of the world. And didn't you say, Deb, you could smell the garlic in the air?

Debbie Pierson:
Oh, yeah. It's all in the air. In the mornings, it's just really pulsating the air. You will love it.

Renee Thompson:
That would be my happy place. I love garlic. I'm Italian. You almost have to love garlic when you're Italian.

Debbie Pierson:
You have to, yeah.

Renee Thompson:
Yes. Deb also has three adult children, three grandchildren. And you have one on the way.

Debbie Pierson:
I do. I'm so excited. It's a little girl, too so.

Renee Thompson:
It's a little girl. Aww, I love little girls. And again, I have a beautiful grandson too, so I don't want to, you know.

Debbie Pierson:
Me too, yes.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, grandbabies are the best. And Deb and I talk about how children are great. I love my daughters. But I tell you what, everything stops for those grandbabies, right?

Debbie Pierson:
Yes, ma'am.

Renee Thompson:
Everything stops for them. Okay. I really want you to share with our leaders some of your journey that you've been on towards a healthy work culture. And how would you start by defining it? How do you define a healthy work culture, especially in healthcare today?

Debbie Pierson:
Well, I will define a healthy work culture, first of all, you have to offer good care. A place that offers good care, and that was one of the requirements that we had to meet. We had to offer good care. It has to be a place that you have a foundation. And now, because I'm on the other side, having a foundation like Healthy Workplace, a place where you can respect each other, when we talk to each other and not about each other where we help each other, these are the type of places that now we have graduated to. This is the type of place. This is a healthy work environment where staff is not afraid of leadership. Staff is, yes, where they want to come and talk to you. And whenever I see in my emails now in the memo line, Healthy Workforce, this is how then I know, okay, we got to jump into action. But staff have no problem in coming to me, coming to my office. It was a time when staff did not want to even enter my office alone because of the fear of, okay, it's us against them, but we want to break that type of culture where it's us and them. But we are all one, we are all one. We're all here for the same thing, and that's to take excellent care of our patients. So that's what we are moving towards and working towards.

Renee Thompson:
You said so many powerful things just now. Some of them we've seen this a lot, especially, let's say you're a leader in a unionized organization. We know that there's this disconnect between the leadership team and the staff. And that was happening when we started this work where, as Deb said, they didn't even want to walk into your office without a representative next to them. And now they freely come into your office; they talk to you because they don't see you as something separate. That did not happen overnight. But one of the things, I'll never forget this, I was in a meeting with some of the leaders in the union, and we were talking about our work, and I was a little apprehensive. I didn't know what they were going to ask me, how they would treat me. It was an amazing meeting in a positive way. What they said made all the difference, and they were such champions for this work. They said it was because the leaders admitted and told their staff that they were working on improving themselves too. It wasn't just, Hey, I'm fine as the leader, you guys got a problem, and we need to fix you. No, it was, they said, because I think you did such a good job with this. You told them I'm working on this too. I'm learning too. And that coming across, I think, is a little bit vulnerable as a leader and that you're not perfect. You make mistakes. But something that you did so well, Deb, is you showed them that you're part of them because you're all learning this together. And I don't even know that I've ever shared that with you. But they gave a lot of kudos to you.

Debbie Pierson:
You know what? I can do that because I was a frontline staff. And that's so important for your team to see you as a part. I'm a part of them when it comes to, when it gets really busy and really crazy, and I have to roll a bed, or I have to make a bed, or whatever I have to do. If they can see you in that light, then they begin to trust. You know, you talk about vulnerability. There's certain things that I've learned from this journey; being vulnerable, having courage. These are the things that helped me along the path. That vulnerability is so important. It's not the top-down. We have to see that we are equal. I'm responsible, of course, as a leader, I'm responsible for certain things. But when it comes to it, we are all on the same. We are all human beings. And that's what's my message to staff. We are all here for the same purpose. And that is to take good care of our patients and to make sure that our patients are getting what they need, the care experience for our patient. And not just saying it. See, we can't just say it. You have to talk the walk or walk the talk, however, you say it, but you have to really, yeah, you have to really show it. And leaders have to model the way. And you have to get in there and show them, show the vulnerability, show the courage because doing this work is challenging, but you have to believe it. One of the things, I remember when we first met, it was back in 2019. We started February 2019, right before COVID, and I remember when my leader asked, Hey, would you like to be a part of it, and would you like to be a part of the Healthy Workforce journey? I was so excited in my soul that I went home, and I talked to my children about it, and even my youngest daughter, she was like, Did you talk to the kind lady today? She loved the philosophy. She loved the things that I was telling her about Healthy Workforce. I remember that day. I came in with my like, it was the first day of school. I had my special outfit on. I had my notebook. Because I knew in my soul, I knew in my soul that this was going to do it. And I put all my eggs in one basket, and I knew this was going to do it. This is going to make a change in the department, and it did, because I knew it in my soul. But I had to have courage. And in the beginning, there's certain things, there's a type of strategies you have to have in the beginning and the initial. My strategies changed over time. Once I hardwired it, then I had new strategies, but in the beginning, I had to come in with full belief. I had to believe it. I say in my soul, my whole being. Regardless of anything else anyone said, I knew this was going to work. So I was all in, 100% all in. And also I followed the curriculum. I lived on your every word, everything you said. You said to bookend your meetings. Guess what? Deb was bookending her meetings. I started with something, Healthy Workforce. I ended with something positive. And you know what? Because I lived on that, I still do the same things four years later. Four years later.

Renee Thompson:
Good, I hope that you to sustain this work as you incorporated those key principles, strategies. Because sometimes people will say to us, Well, how do we make sure this isn't just another flavor of the month? And we always respond by saying, One of our best strategies is incorporating Healthy Workforce as a standing agenda item in every one of your meetings. Once you do that, the very first time, you take it off the agenda because something else more important shows up, well, now you've made it one more thing. Once you start, you have to be consistent. And Deb, you've done such a great job. And for those of you who are listening, who are wondering what are bookends, what are bookends? What I find sometimes is that leaders will have a meeting, and then they end with something positive. You have to shift that. So what we recommend for the bookends: start every meeting with something positive. It could be a recognition. It could be a win. It could be something somebody celebrating. And I always say end with a reminder. The easiest reminder is really just to start by saying, Remember everyone, the way we treat each other is just as important as the care that we provide today. And make more, like, today, not future ongoing, but today. Because people have it, it's easier for them to say, Okay, well, I'm going to be kind today. I don't know if I could be kind, you know, all month long or all year long, but today I'm going to be kind. And you said a couple of other things. First of all, you have to believe it. We have leaders reaching out to us all the time, especially right now, really struggling, and we know we can help them. But sometimes I'll be talking with a leader and I don't know that they believe that it can get better. And that may be no fault of their own. That could be that they're in such a state of, they're so stressed, they can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I think for this really to work, you have to reach down deep and pull out. And you said that courage and that belief that you can't get better and it will get better. It might not happen overnight. And you know, Deb, I say this all the time to the leaders we work with: trust the process.

Debbie Pierson:
Trust the process.

Renee Thompson:
Step one, step two, step, you have to trust the process because your culture didn't get this way overnight. It's not going to change overnight, then it can't change.

Debbie Pierson:
And you know, one of the other things that I love about Healthy Workforce and that I use as another one of my strategies is it's evidence-based, and you're dealing with professionals. And when you bring it from the evidence, then you see those ears opening up. The evidence tell us: when there is negativity in the workplace our patients are negatively impacted. And when there's positivity, the same happen: positivity for our patients. So I bring it from the evidence because it's all evidence-based, and we're dealing with professionals, and that's one of the keys, another strategy, bring it from the evidence, and you will get your nurses on board. And another thing about Healthy Workforce, those department norms, it's generated from the front-line staff. Hey, wait a minute. You said, "Talk to me," and this is how you want to be treated. And these are the strategies that you use to ensure that we're impacting our patients, we're impacting our staff, and it begins to grow over time. We were at the height of COVID. And another strategy, like you said, don't stop. So how do you go through COVID and still keep this up and still make it important and still make it the theme and not just the flavor of the month? You drip it. You never stop. You may have to take your foot off the gas a little bit, because there's so many important scenes as far as when it comes to COVID, but you never let up. You still, because we still had staff meetings, it's still was my, I still bookend my meetings. I still had my bulletin board. We still worked, and we still changed because, and then the staff began to see, hey, one, this is evidence-based. Two, I'm leaning strongly, we learn how to lean strongly on those department norms, and they make a difference when you lean on, it's the evidence. You've done the work for us, Renee. You've done the work for us. You just brought it out. You've done all the work. And that's one thing about evidence. You don't have to do anything. It's there for us. And all we have to do is, one, have the courage, and just continue to do the same things over and over. And another thing, it's simple.

Renee Thompson:
It's simple. It's no big thing.

Debbie Pierson:
Yes, it's simple, be kind, respect, smile, help me when I'm drought. How much simple can you get? You cannot. And this is what I have. I've walked the walk because I try to, I am respectful, I am kind to a core. That's who I am. So that's another thing that it spoke to me because this is who I am. I'm like, this is who I am. This is what I want. I want people to feel good when they come. Not so much good, but respected because, you know, the emotions, I can't, I don't want to be a part of that emotion, but I want to make sure that we are respected when we're here, at work.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, and again, you've said so many really great things. You talk about, even during COVID, you did not let up. Now, let's say you usually spend 10 or 15 minutes talking about a healthy workforce topic. Today, we're going to talk about gossip and new words that show up and how are we going to reduce it. Well, today, you might only talk about it for 30 seconds or one minute. But it's not like you could say, All right, everyone, we're in crisis right now. Go back to being mean to each other. Go back to not helping each other. Go back to yelling at each other. And this is what we told all of our clients, all the leaders we were working with during COVID. Slow down with this. It's okay. Just don't stop. Once you put a stake in the ground and you say the way we treat each other matters here, you cannot set it aside because of other issues popping up. Actually, you should do more with Healthy Workforce because that's when you really need it the most. Because when people are so stressed, that's when they start lashing out at each other and making that of, this is the way we do business here, and you've done that so well, establishing that these are our norms. And you mentioned department norms, so one of the things that we do as part of our system is we get together with the entire team, and we ask them, how do you always want to be treated by each other? How do you never want to be treated by each other? And that helps them to form a set of norms. And it's my favorite. It's actually my personal norm. If I've done something wrong, if I've made a mistake, if I've disrespected you in some way and maybe don't even realize it, please tell me. Don't talk about me behind my back. Just tell me. Talk to me, not about me. And those are things that, it's not what Deb has to say, it's what we say. And once you have those norms, it's so much easier to then, I don't want to say hold people accountable because it's not an official document of the organization. Nobody signs it. It's just this is how we treat each other in the space. But, Deb, I want you to talk a little bit about your champion. So as part of our system, we identify employees to step into a healthy workforce champion role. I have, probably, I've been so proud of the work of Deb's champions that she'll send me videos of her champions and how their champions are leading the effort, and Deb's just sitting back as the guide on the side, watching her champions flourish. So can you tell us a little bit about your champions and maybe some examples of what they do? Because that I think will really help our listeners.

Debbie Pierson:
You know, champions are so important because it's the frontline. Champions are the frontline. The leadership, we bring it, we introduce it, but it's the frontline, those champions that's going to drive this initiative, and I've had the best champions. In the beginning, I was there for every meeting, and that's another thing, you have to meet with your champions, being in there and making sure that they're getting the message across and that they're understanding. But once, at this point, there's been time leaving at this point, I had to jump in there and kind of course correct, you know, that bulletin board. Maybe we can do it more, you know, whatever, kind of course, correct. But now, at this point, the recognition and the celebration of their colleagues have been amazing. Some of the things I'm like, what? Where did you guys?

Renee Thompson:
How did you guys think that?

Debbie Pierson:
Exactly. So creative. So at this point, when I'm not able to make the meeting, they still are able to go on, and they're still working. They're still planning. One of the celebrations that have been a real hit for the team is when they had a ball, and they put lollipops around.

Renee Thompson:
I remember that one. That was so awesome.

Debbie Pierson:
Yes, you get a treat. So they say they will go to Renee. Renee, you will take a lollipop. And if there's a color underneath, first of all, you'll take a lollipop. Then tell me something nice about Annie. And then that is a way of you celebrating your colleague. And if you have a color on the bottom of the lollipop, you get a prize. I thought that was such a hit. You get a treat and you get a prize, right? So it was a way of recognizing each other. And one of the other things that I found so amazing that the champions created was celebrating our, I call them our 'guest nurses', they're travel nurses. So we are a kind of respectful place. So I wanted to think of a way of not just calling them travel nurses, but you're a guest in our house and we treat our guests special. So our guest nurses, they will celebrate them on the first day. They will give them little pins or maybe a little coffee mug or something saying, Welcome to our department. They already have gotten their department norms in their orientation. And they're given a gift. And the champions are now going to them, Welcome to our unit. They were like, Wait a minute, did we do something wrong? No, you aren't a yes or no house and this is how we treat our guests and this is our culture incorporating a healthy workload. So the champions are amazing. And that's so important is picking your champions. They're going to drive it. Now you, as the leader, you have to be there in the beginning. You just can't let them go. When you're four years into it, you could kind of miss a few of those meetings because they are excited about it. Their boards are amazing. Some of the boards, I just can't believe it. And when I say our bulletin, our Healthy Workforce bulletin board, it's still in practice, in the same spot four years later, that bulletin board is still there and would still, we have the holidays coming. They do some amazing boards. It's hard-wired. So we have hard-wired the process.

Renee Thompson:
I'm curious because we're talking about a Healthy Workforce bulletin board and other fun bulletin boards. I have heard this before from people. Tell me if you have encountered this. Some people will say, What are we, in kindergarten? You know, you got to have all these cutesy little things on the bulletin board and, Oh, give a shout-out to this person. Oh, pull a sucker. You know, pull a lollipop. Do you have that push-back from people?

Debbie Pierson:
So no. Once you hardwire it, you pass that. So in the beginning, you kind of get that in the beginning. But this is where your courage comes in. And this is the way you have to be able to speak to that. You have to get your team to understand that this is so important in the process, and circle it back to the patient. Always keep that patient as the center of all that you do. This is what we do to remind us of being kind, of being respectful. And we're doing some fun things around it. We want to recognize each other. So in the beginning I had a little bit of that, but now they're waiting for.

Renee Thompson:
The next excitement.

Debbie Pierson:
Exactly.

Renee Thompson:
You're right. There are times where I'll hear this, especially when we start this journey with a department that people are making fun of it, or there's a lot of pushback, and I just remind them, When you start talking about culture and behavior, it makes some people really uncomfortable. And sometimes their coping mechanism is to make fun of something because, again, they're uncomfortable because some people, they may be concerned, How is this going to affect me in a negative way? Because, you know, the human being, negativity bias, we're always looking at things through that negative lens. And what I try to just reinforce to the leader, and you did exactly this thing, is it's okay, don't stop, because more people want this. More people want the fun, pull a lollipop out of a styrofoam ball and see if you get a prize. It's so funny. It's kind of embarrassing. My husband does a grocery shopping. He doesn't do it all the time, but sometimes when he comes home from the grocery store, he gives me scratch-off tickets. This lottery. I shop everything. Like, I need a cool line, and I scratch off, and if I won a dollar, I won a dollar. It's silly, but it's the little things like that that, I don't know, add some fun into my day. So you have a coworker that helps you with an issue you're having with the patient, and you might think, Oh my gosh, I'm so glad she was able to help me. And then it just goes away. But if you have a bulletin board where I can actually write that and post that sticky, because I'm telling you on even the people who are a little, let's just say curmudgeons, I guarantee if you have a board that people post positive things about their coworkers when nobody's looking, they're going to be looking at the board to see their names up there.

Debbie Pierson:
Sure. Definitely. People do. And we did have a bulletin board like that where we post and recognize people, and it's just so amazing to build that culture of kindness, a culture of kindness where you come to work and you know, you know, it's not perfect. I don't have a perfect department. And I will never have a perfect department, probably I'll be without a job. But we do, we lean heavily. Those department norms are so important. I've had my department in malls for a few years. We're about to dust them off now, as you say, we're dusting off those department norms. I kept it for a little bit because now they're hardwired. When you say talk to me and not about they know what I'm talking about. You know, respect, we smile. So we're about ready to dust off those department norms. They will never go away. They're hanging on the wall in our unit. And whenever we have anyone that comes in, any new staff, they know that, Hey, this is on the interview. We have a culture. How many departments, you know, have a culture? We have a culture. And these are our department norms. And whenever I'm interviewing, they're like, Wow, I love that. And if someone said, Well, I don't want to be a part of that. Sorry, I can't hire you.

Renee Thompson:
They're not a good fit. And, you know, that's okay because it's one of our ways to hardwire a healthy workforce culture is you have those norms and you include those norms in your interviewing process. Kindness, respect, treating each other as professionals is not optional here. It's part of the job requirement. And if that's not okay with you, then this is not a good fit for you. Because you want to make sure you protect the culture that you've just created.

Debbie Pierson:
Yes. And you know what? I can tell you, it took about approximately two years where you start seeing that change, that turn. So that's why I like to talk about courage. And in the beginning, it's so important. And leaning ahead to lean on you so strongly, Renee. Remember those days when I was emailing you and I was calling you and I was like, Oh my God, I don't know what to do? Never did I feel like giving up. But having that strong leadership behind you is so important, and I could be grateful to you. There's so many things that I'm grateful to you for. Because this has impacted not only my work life, but it has impacted my home life. I do recall when we, talk to me, not about me. You know, those things, it's embedded in my brain

Renee Thompson:
And just, you know, what do you need to make this work? What do you need? And how you keep checking in with your champions, you're not just saying, Okay, you guys are good. You know, you can handle it. You keep checking in. It's so important for the executive to keep checking in and offering that support and showing their commitment to this work, even when things get really tough. And they always have those times where things get tough. But courage, making sure that you are so committed to this so that there's no going back. I forget what the example is, but if you want to get to the other side of, say, an ocean, and you want to put your stake in the ground, and you want to grow a colony, you got to burn the boats, because as long as you have a way out, you will never be successful. And what you want to do, you have to burn the boats. And I know I'm not saying that right, but you have to burn the boats. You get the reasoning behind it. You said, I'm burning my boats. We're going all in. We're doing this no matter what. No matter how difficult.

Debbie Pierson:
It was no way out. It was no turning back. It was like as my life depended on it. And I'm so, so grateful for your team, so grateful for the strong leadership we had at the time. That really encouraged me and really said, You can do this. It's so worth it. You do it. And even just saying it's a good job, even though I remember walking into a huddle, I was shaking. But you know what? When I'm in my head, never let them see you sweat. I was shaking. I had to run into my office after. But it's okay. It's okay. You can survive it. You can be strong. As long as you have, you have Dr. Renee Thompson and her team and they will get you through. And I'm just so excited that I'm on this side of it challenged still. But the only thing is too, from a leadership stance, we have to always continue to grow. We have to always continue to learn. Everything you have given, so much, so many important information that has helped me, and I lived on every word. I had to read it, I had to. But not only that, you have to be a learner. You have to be a student of life. That's one of the things that I pride myself of, is being a student of life, always learning. Leaders are learners and leaders are readers, and those are the things that I encourage all leaders to do. Because when you search for it and search for things and search for it, and you're out there, hopefully, there's leaders that are out there searching for, how do we work this out? You're going to bump into Dr. Renee Thompson, and she's there.

Renee Thompson:
When you think about it, everything that you want to do, everything that you want to accomplish, pretty much someone else has accomplished it. Somebody else has been successful. So you and I are so alike when it comes to being. I'm a forever student. Read every single day. Learn something new all the time. My poor team, I learned something like, Oh, we're going to do it this way now. Or how about this way? Or this is what we're going to focus on, because I learned something. And I think that is another sort of, not really a philosophy, but I guess it could be where it's one of my core values or principles is that I'm always learning something. How do I get better? How do we improve here? And I think as a leader, if you're not willing to do that, maybe leadership's not the best fit for you. But then I take it back to even at the bedside. You have to always be willing to learn and improve and get better. So I would just say, how about as a human being? The most successful human beings are the ones that realize that they don't know everything. They're not the best at everything, that they can get better. And as we start wrapping up, is there maybe 1 or 2 actions that you can share with our listeners? If you have a leader right now saying, Oh my gosh, I was Deb. Like four years ago when Deb was in her situation, that's where I am now. Is there any advice that you could give them on how they can start, especially if they don't have the opportunity to work with us or maybe work with anyone that they're just doing this on their own? What advice would you give them?

Debbie Pierson:
First of all, I do believe you need, even if you don't have blessed with Renee and her curriculum, you have to read on. How do you deal with disruptive behavior? You have to have that courage to confront it. You have to confront it. It's not going anywhere. You have to be able to call it out, and you have to know how to call it out. And you have to trust your process. Sometimes you just have to know. And it's the courage. Being able to call out that disruptive behavior, because you have to know. Think about your patient. Put yourself in the patient. You are the patient in the bed. You want to make sure that your patient is impacted positively. Because if there's negativity, that patient is going to be negatively impacted. Because Sally and Sue, they're not giving off the full s-bar, right? Because they, I don't like Sally. So I'm not telling her everything. She's gonna make a mistake. So you have to reach out, look for, you can always get Doctor Renee Thompson's books. First of all, be a learner, be a reader, and read, search. If you search, you will find. One of my favorite books, talk about searching and finding. But if you search, read, and really confront the disruptive behavior, that's the way of doing it. I believe it to my soul.

Renee Thompson:
That's a really great, if you look at the just two actions you can take, one of them is that you said, Deb, you have to start confronting disruptive behaviors, period. We have to start confronting them. And it takes a lot of courage to be able to do that. And it's okay. I always tell people, It's okay to be uncomfortable when you're confronting someone's behavior, confront anyway. It's okay that you're uncomfortable. Heck, I'm still uncomfortable when I have to have one of those courageous or honest conversations with someone. But I value and respect the person enough, and I value our culture, even on our team enough to have that conversation. So confront disruptive behaviors, have the courage to do that, and then be a voracious learner because again, anything that you want to accomplish, someone has already done that, and I bet they've written about it somewhere or they have some type of resource for you. So make sure you access that. And as we really wrap up, you were talking about reading. Is there anything that you're reading right now? Is there anything you would recommend to the leaders listening?

Debbie Pierson:
Yes. I'm reading right now, Change Your Brain Every Day by Doctor Daniel Amen. I realize how important that brain is. The brain controls everything, and it's so funny how I found this book. I allowed myself, I really don't watch television, I don't have the time, but when I go away, I usually do it. I was, you know, I don't look at whatever stories and I don't really like to. So I'm searching. I'm like, I'm always looking for someone to feed me with some information, some knowledge. And I came upon Doctor Daniel Amen, and this book Change Your Brain Every Day and How to Really Protect Your Brain. It's so important if you want to decrease, make sure you don't get dementia and all of these things. I recommend that book highly. And I'm also a podcaster. I've turned my car into my library and I love to listen to Jim Rohn, Wayne Dyer, Jordan Peterson. These are the people that I listen to, they have kind of part of my life. They feel like my friends. So it's so important. If there's anything that I could just help someone from a leadership stance, be a learner and also be a reader.

Renee Thompson:
I probably have said this already a gazillion times, but I do. I read for 30 minutes every single morning, something educational or something instructional. And people always ask, How did you get so knowledgeable about behavior? Is there a course that you took, bullying and incivility? I said no, I've just been fascinated by human behavior for since I can remember. And I've been reading and I've learned from so many other people. You mentioned some of my favorites. So I like Doctor Daniel Amen. His work on, even nutrition I think, is really great, so I definitely have to put that one on my list.

Debbie Pierson:
It's so good. I recommend that. So good.

Renee Thompson:
And as I get older myself, I think of my cognition. And what can I do now to protect my brain from some of the badness that's out there? So can you say related to the brain? And I am an old neuro-nurse. I mean, I worked in neurosurgery. And so from a physical standpoint of the brain, I know it well. But from everything else and looking at good brain health, I'm still a learner for sure.

Debbie Pierson:
Yeah. I just this one book I would like to add, anything John C. Maxwell, but this one: How Successful People Lead. It's a quick read, but it's some important things in there.

Renee Thompson:
John Maxwell, I had the opportunity to hear him speak live at an event that I went to, and I was like, Oh my God, it's John Maxwell. What a little groupie and the audience.

Debbie Pierson:
He's amazing.

Renee Thompson:
And his principles of leadership are simple, practical, and powerful at the same time. So I agree, Deb. A couple of things. In our show notes, you'll find a way that you can connect with Deb. We'll have her LinkedIn profile there, and the books that she mentioned, will have those listed, along with some of the other resources that Deb mentioned in our conversation, and so just check out the show notes, and you'll find those. Deb, I just want to thank you so much for being a guest on this show. But more than that, for being a champion for a healthy work culture and giving leaders, I think the inspiration, the courage that they can achieve exactly what you achieved. It takes time. It takes courage. It takes support. It takes knowledge. But I'm telling you what, you can get there. So thank you so much for being on the show.

Debbie Pierson:
Thank you. I thank you for doing what you do and sharing it with the world. I appreciate it.

Renee Thompson:
It is definitely my life's work, there's no doubt about it. And I want to thank all of you who are listening right now, and for doing your part to cultivate and sustain a healthy work culture. And I really just want to remind you, and I think you should do this. You should do the bookend. Start with something positive and end with a reminder. So remember, the way we treat each other is just as important as the care that we provide. Take care everyone.

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 generate automated summaries powered by AI, upload many different filetypes, secure transcription and file storage, enterprise-grade admin tools, and easily transcribe your Zoom meetings. Try Sonix for free today.

Things You’ll Learn:
  • Negative workplace attitudes can negatively impact patients; positive ones lead to positive outcomes.
  • One must confront disruptive behavior, trust the process, and put oneself in the patient’s shoes for a positive impact.
  • Success is a result of learning and improvement. Εffective leaders realize they can always get better.
  • Hardwiring department norms into the workplace is vital for protecting and preserving the culture.
  • Trust is built when frontline staff are seen as part of the team.
Resources:
  • Connect with and follow Debbie Pierson on LinkedIn.
  • Follow Kaiser Permanente on LinkedIn.
  • Discover Kaiser Permanente’s Website!
  • Browse Renee’s books on Amazon here.
  • Get Change Your Brain Every Day by Dr. Daniel Amen, here.
  • Grab a copy of John Maxwell’s book, How Successful People Lead, here.
  • Find out more about how to create a healthy workforce environment within your organization 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