Coffee Break - Amy Visser-Lynch

EP 21: Creating a Positive Shift: Insights into Healthier Work Environments

Summary: 

Empowering healthcare leaders with essential skills and tools is crucial for addressing disruptive behavior and fostering a positive work culture.

In this episode, Amy Visser-Lynch, Chief Nursing Officer at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, discusses her approach to addressing disruptive behavior and cultivating a healthier work culture in the healthcare setting. She emphasizes empowering leaders with the necessary skills and tools, sharing her personal journey in her first executive role and the challenges she faced. Throughout this insightful conversation, Amy touches upon the importance of external partnerships, the implementation of leadership retreats, regular meetings to address challenges, and the shift from manager-led to team-led accountability. She also highlights the ongoing commitment to skill development and the need to take a stand against normalized disruptive behavior for the benefit of organizational resilience and overall well-being.

Tune in to learn more about the impact of disruptive behavior on staff morale and patient care!

About Amy Visser-Lynch:

Amy Visser-Lynch, MSN, RN, CENP, serves as the Chief Nursing Officer at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center (MAHHC), a position she assumed in January 2019. Prior to being appointed to this position, Amy was the Director of Staff Education and also served as the Hospital’s Director of Outpatient Clinical Practice and as Interim Emergency Department Manager. Over the years, she has worked in a variety of settings, from academia to hospitals and other care settings, such as long-term and primary care. She was partial to the emergency room setting, where she also discovered her love to educate others and elevate those around her. Her optimism and service to others is what drew her to the nursing profession, where she continually builds on her knowledge as a lifelong learner.

Amy is passionate about employee recognition and satisfaction and continually strives to provide and support a work environment free from bullying and incivility. Amy has partnered with the Healthy Workforce Institute and the International DAISY Awards recognition program to elevate the skills of her nurse leaders and improve employee satisfaction outcomes. 

She is a graduate of Florida Keys Community College and Walden University, where she earned her Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in education. She later continued her education by pursuing and receiving her Certified Executive Nursing Professional certification. In her spare time, Amy participates in a rowing team and enjoys spending time with her family.

CB_Amy Visser Lynch: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix

CB_Amy Visser Lynch: 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, bad behavior happens because it can, and it takes dedicated leaders like you who are listening to actually do something about it. And today, we get to have a chit-chat with Amy Visser Lynch, the chief nursing officer at Mount Ascutney Hospital, who has really just she's put a stake in the ground to say, no way. We're not tolerating bad behavior anymore, but she's done this in a way that I think is quite remarkable. She has empowered her leaders with the skills and tools that they need to actually address disruptive behavior so that they can cultivate a healthier work culture. So, Amy, welcome to Coffee Break.

Amy Visser Lynch:
Thank you, Renee. Happy to be here.

Renee Thompson:
We are so happy to have you here too. You and I have had so many conversations over the last couple of years that I, as soon as we launched this podcast and I made my list of who would I love to interview on this show, you were one of the first people that I thought of because, like I said, I think you're just doing some remarkable things. And to tell you a little bit more about Amy, she serves as the chief nursing officer at Mount Ascutney Hospital and Health Center. Prior, Amy was the director of staff education and served as the hospital's director of outpatient clinical practice and as interim emergency department manager. She's worked in a variety of settings from academia to hospitals long-term and primary care. She was partial to the emergency room setting, where she also discovered her love to educate others and elevate those around her. Her optimism, and I can attest to that, and service to others, is what drew her to the nursing profession, where she continually builds on her knowledge as a lifelong learner. Amy is passionate about employee recognition and satisfaction and continually strives to provide and support a work environment free from bullying and incivility. Amy has partnered with us, so I am thrilled to let you know that we've done some work together in the International Daisy Awards recognition program to elevate the skills of her nurse leaders and improve employee satisfaction and outcomes. In her spare time, which I can't even believe she has any spare time, okay, Amy participates in a rowing team and enjoys spending time with her family. So again, Amy, thank you so much for being here. And can you just tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got so involved in culture change and really developing your leaders?

Amy Visser Lynch:
Sure. So I think, you know, I started off this is my first executive role. So as I started doing this role, I really felt like, gosh, there are pieces that I'd love to see change. And as I worked through some stuff, it was hard to figure out how do you manage those things. I was part of the AOL Nurse Executive Fellowship, and so I was sharing a story that really brought me to tears around just some behaviors that were really hard to manage. And you have that clinically strong person, but sometimes they're just. And I shared that story, and one of my fellow colleagues had said, I know exactly who you need to talk to, and they connected me with you, Renee.

Renee Thompson:
I do remember that. I do remember him reaching out, saying, hey, I'd like to, is it okay that I connect you with Amy? I'm like, absolutely.

Amy Visser Lynch:
Yeah, it was a pivotal point for me. It was really the point where I realized, okay, maybe again, can't do this work alone, can't be solo in it. I needed a team, and I needed beyond just the team I had here, but I needed somebody who really knew how to help me set up my team to be successful and work towards what I wanted, which was a kind, healthy work environment.

Renee Thompson:
You know that, you bring up a really good point here, and something that I've also seen with someone in an executive role. There are so many times where an executive that could be the CEO, the CNO, the …, they get into this role and they think they have to know everything. They have to be so competent in everything. And I find a lot of times that they're less likely to reach out and say, I need help with this situation, because they feel that it's a sign of incompetence when what you're saying, Amy, it's actually the smartest thing that you can do is to say, I need help. And whether that help comes internally, because there are a lot of resources internally, but sometimes that help needs to be external, and that's exactly what you did. And we believe in a partnership between what we can do as an external guide and what you have currently internally, it's that partnership.

Amy Visser Lynch:
Yeah, and I think having that partnership, we had you come back, and we did that large leadership retreat, introducing all of our leaders to what it is to do this, what it is to be, as Brene Brown would say, clear and kind. Clear is the kind way to do it. So we want to be clear. We want to make sure that people understand. But the other piece that I think, which is what really has helped me here, is the leadership tools in allowing my leaders and empowering my leaders and giving them those pieces around what they need to create that spot where people are holding each other accountable, not just that the manager does it, right? A really good-performing team, the manager doesn't really need to be the person doing that because the staff, the team is doing that with each other. And so how do we get there? We're, it's a journey. We're not fully there yet, but we continue to work at it.

Renee Thompson:
I don't know, Amy, if I've ever shared this with you. I say this, but I say it a little under my breath. When we're working with an organization like yours and a group of leaders that once we start this journey towards a healthy work culture, we actually never arrive at the destination. You are never done. And trust me, we're not saying that we need to make you consultant dependent on us. That's not at all what I'm saying. What I'm saying is, when you're working on your culture, when you're developing your leaders, when you're developing your employees, when you're developing yourself, you're never done. Things change. Some people leave, you hire new people. And so, just getting that mindset. And that's what I appreciate about you, Amy. You have that mindset of being voracious learner and recognizing that journey. You never end. You're always on that path. So what are some of the things that you've done to really hardwire this continuous improving and learning, especially with your leadership team? So we're so busy. They're so busy. Like how do you do this?

Amy Visser Lynch:
We meet on a regular basis. And during that, those meetings, we do actually set aside a specific amount of time each time in those meetings for the first 15 minutes to talk about our healthy workforce environment. What is the challenges that a leader might be having? Is there a specific person? As you said, the people change in the environment, and it changes the whole dynamic. And so everything shifts, and so we've got to be able to adapt and figure out how to manage. It's also part of those relationships, right? How do we build a relationship? And some are easier to make than others, right? Ours was really easy. There were other people I could meet, and not quite so easy, but making those connections and those relationships happen and making sure that we talk about it consistently, it's always part of the conversation. I think one of the other things that we do that you shared with us was to say, what's the rumor on the street?

Renee Thompson:
Yes.

Amy Visser Lynch:
What are people saying? Because that's where you decide where you need to move forward next. And so I think we utilize that a lot. We use it in our larger leadership meetings, and I use it with my targeted leaders that report to me. And we do that on a regular basis. And I think it helps to keep the conversation and it up in the forefront of everybody's part of their work life.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, yeah. And so you've said so many great things. I want to go back and unpack a few of them. You did mention that I did go there for a retreat, and it's not the retreat that I want to talk about, it's the fact that it wasn't just nursing leaders. You had all of your leaders there. There was the facilities director, your chief medical officer was there, HR was in the room. Everybody was there. We tend to focus and developing our teams in these silos. So nursing leadership, physician leadership, operations, ambulatory care, patient care services, and we don't always come together as an organizational leadership team, and that was so smart on your part. Because how can you hold your nursing leaders accountable for holding their people accountable if the physicians aren't doing that? If respiratory is not doing that, if HR isn't on the same page, and with that difficult to get their buy-in for them all to come. And can you talk a little bit about how you did that?

Amy Visser Lynch:
Yeah, I think it was a little difficult, and it was a little bit of a challenge at first because it's hard to look inward and say, hey, we might have some. We're not the worst of the worst, but we still have a way to improve and to sometimes look back and say, oh yeah, maybe that behavior is not that great, or that's not really what we want. Sometimes that's hard to recognize, and some people have been here for a really long time, so it felt a little more like a dig and getting everybody but starting off with the senior leadership team and making sure they're all on board, and then coming out to the rest of the leadership team, the fact that my whole senior leadership team was there and present for that, that makes it made a bold statement to everybody else. Like we are all we all need to be on this page together, we all need to share this in order to make that shift. Because as you said, you can't have one group held to one standard and another group held to another. We've got to set that stage. You talk about vision-mission purposes. We all have those things. We talk about excellence and integrity and accountability and stuff. But how do we actually hold each other accountable for that? And how do we really make sure that we're living those things?

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, they just can't be words on a piece of paper or on a plaque when you walk into the lobby of your organization. And one of the ways that I think you're able to do this so well is, you say you meet with your leadership team and you talk about something related to healthy work culture. It's one of our primary strategies to hardwire and sustain a healthy work culture. And that is by including, we call it a healthy workforce, as a standing agenda item in all of your meetings. And that's where you talk about, all right, we've seen an uptick in complaints related to favoritism, okay. And that's where even HR can say we're getting complaints about this or that, and you talk about it, but then you also use it as an opportunity to, for leaders to get help and also for you to then help those leaders develop the skills that they need to address disruptive behaviors. Because, just because you put a stake in the ground and say, that's it, we're not going to tolerate this anymore, people don't magically know how to do that, like they don't magically know how to address it. I'll never forget the time I had somebody reach out, and they said, we need your help. And I said, okay, this is how we can help, and we had a great conversation, and then I never heard from them again. I got ghosted. Okay, I never heard from them again. And I shouldn't say never. Two years later, they reached out. Their CEO is a new CEO, pulled all of their leaders together, and said, here's a deal, you guys, we're seeing a lot of people leaving because of bullying, okay? It's showing up on our exit interviews and our surveys as leaders go fix this problem. And they all went back to their chief nurse and said, yeah, we tried that two years ago. We don't know how to fix the problem, okay? We don't know how. And then I started working with them. You have to provide an opportunity for your leaders to learn the skills, and that's what you've done so well, Amy. So can you talk a little bit about how you've really supported that ongoing skill development for your leaders and for their teams?

Amy Visser Lynch:
So, you know, it's funny, the, your Healthy Workforce Leadership Academy has really helped the team, and mostly because they can pop in and out of there. It's not a college course. It's not a, it is, it provides them the tools when they need it so they can search for what they're looking for and really target like. So we, during their staff meetings, they'll bring up one of your activities from either the quarterly newsletter or from that, the leadership monthly skills, and they bring folks together. I think one of the ones that they really liked doing was, what's the most, what are the clinical skills somebody needs to have in this department, and what's the professional skills they need to have? Where's the soft and …, and those two skills, and working through so that then everybody could figure out okay well this is what we want, right? These are the skills. And when we're looking at our colleagues and our partners, we want to make sure that they have those skill sets. So we've also started talking about how we hire, right? What are the things? So what are the behaviors you want to see? What are the the skills that somebody should have, but also including those behavioral things? So fitting that into all of the pieces and making sure. But I do say the activities, setting up the departmental norms, and really, from a leadership standpoint, we set some leadership norms, and then groups set out their norms with their teams. And we just take it's a slow go, but we take one thing at a time and let it settle in, let it bake before we move to something else, right? So bake them in one at a time. Did the norms and then let the norms settle in. Let's really get those set for folks, and people really feel like we're living those before we start tackling the next thing. So it's been a slow go.

Renee Thompson:
So I'm thinking there are a lot of people that especially if they want to start addressing these behaviors, they're listening to you right now, and they're like, I want to be like, Amy, I want to start addressing these behaviors. And then they have 27 things that they want to get done in the next month. Maybe I'm just talking about me, like my poor team. I'm one of these people that I come up with all these ideas. I want to do all these things, and we have our big rocks for the quarter. And then I establish, because I couldn't fit everything into a big rock, so I called them little rocks. And then somebody on my team had a list of pebbles and then some sand, and I'm like, oh my gosh, there's no way we're going to be successful if we try to tackle too much at one time. And you have done, like I said, a really great job in saying, I love how you said it. Let's just let it bake for a while. So you create a set of behavioral expectations. You do that, say, day 30, you don't move on to something else day 31, let that bake, talk about them. That's how they become living, and breathing is spend the next three months. Just focus on your norms. Let's say one of the topics that what you're referring to, Amy, is something. It's our skill development. We have 12 topics related to a healthy work culture, and I'll put the information in the show notes for you all, but it's assertive communication. How do we have honest and respectful conversations with each other? How to reduce gossip is another topic. How to give and receive feedback. And there's 12 of them, and each one has an article, an activity, a tip sheet, a video. Well, we have 12 of them. So our intention when we develop this was for a year, and then COVID happened. And for some departments, it took them three months just to go through the first topic. Fine, let it take two months, three months, as long, and I always say you can slow down, but you can never stop. And giving people the time to do that, to really absorb and learn and practice. They apply, they practice, and it looks like your leaders are doing really well with that.

Amy Visser Lynch:
Yeah. We just, so I love the gossip piece and stuff. We just started making sacred spaces now. So now, on one of the units, we're starting to talk about our sacred spaces and where we can have a conversation and where we shouldn't have a conversation. And I can't tell people what they can and can't say, but I can say this is not a conversation you can have here. And so we started with that's our newest item now is is developing those sacred spaces. And I think again, it's slow, but it does make a difference. And each little thing, I remember the book The Compound Effect, Renee.

Renee Thompson:
Yes.

Amy Visser Lynch:
Right?

Renee Thompson:

Amy Visser Lynch:
Yep, yep. And I think you even sent me that book after we had a conversation. And that book, that book allowed me to realize that I really did need to slow down, make it be one thing at a time, and let it compound and build that ongoing effect that continues to grow each time you master or gain that new skill, and that skill becomes a part of who we are. Now, the next skill allows us to keep building on that, and it really does help and that compound effect is there.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, that's a book that I reread every year around Christmas time. So between Christmas Day and New Year's Day, I always reread that book, and it's very similar. And I'll have the link to this in the show notes, along with James Clear, who wrote Atomic Habits and it's another, it's similar where, to fully grow, improve, master anything, it's small pieces done repeatedly over time, and James Clear talks about how, can you plant, can you focus on trying to just get 1% better every day? So for example, if you want to, I don't know, we'll just say I'm thinking of physical fitness. If you want to strengthen your upper body by doing push-ups, maybe your goal this week is just to do one push-up a day. One push-up, and then the following week you're going to do two, and the following week you're going to do three, or you can change the time frame. But the point is you're not going to try to do 25 push-ups day one, because you're not going to succeed and you're going to give up. It's the same thing with culture change. You can't implement something or do some training on reducing gossip or sort of communication. And after a week, if it's not perfect, say, well, that didn't work, and let's move on to something else. You have to give it time.

Amy Visser Lynch:
Yeah, and I think that's part of the accountability piece. I mean, the book No Ego, as you know, is also one of my favorite books. If you … tell, I'm as an avid reader, just like Renee is. But really, when they talk, when he talks, when they talk about accountability in that book, it's really around, okay. First, people have to be willing to do something. They have to be committed and willing to commit to doing something. And that resiliency is that stick to it. Ownership is accepting and not blaming when things don't go wrong or anything, but really taking that good or bad outcome and really allowing it to fuel what's going to come next, instead of going back to what you were doing before, let it fuel the next step.

Renee Thompson:
Yep, very similar again. Amy and I read a lot Carol Dweck's work on being growth-minded, and I, I've been doing this deliberately because I tend to be one of those people that if I can't master it quickly, I want to set it aside and try something else. And I learned over the years, because I'm much older and wiser now than I was, especially when I was young, that I've been adding one word not only to the words I use, but when talking to, especially people on my team or the leaders that I'm working with is, yeah, I don't know how to do this yet, but that implies that I can learn. My daughter, when she joined our team, she had no experience managing social media. She had no experience writing emails for a company like ours. She was a good writer, and she knows my work, but she had to learn. And I remember telling her all the time, yes, you know, she get frustrated, so you don't know how to do this yet, but just can you work on one piece of this and get better at that and then pick the next piece? And now it's to the point where she's a rock star. She does such a great job with everything, but she didn't start out that way. And I think of the leader who avoids conflict, who doesn't like to have those uncomfortable conversations with their team because they want everybody to like them and giving negative feedback. We might hurt somebody's feelings, but I think about that leader who starts that way, but with having an executive like you, Amy, who is there to support them and guide them and provides them the skills and the helps them develop the skills and the resources, how they can, over time, become that amazing leader who can cultivate a healthy work culture and doesn't put up with disruptive behaviors, nips them in the bud as soon as they happen. Oh, what a beautiful world, right?

Amy Visser Lynch:
Yes, and not always, still, sometimes now I can step into it, whether it's talking to a patient with bad behaviors or an employee with bad behaviors, I still don't have it quite all down. Sometimes, you never know how somebody's going to react to a conversation, but I think continuing to do it, it's that muscle memory. It's that ability to kind of the go to phrase for certain things. And really putting that into play really does help to keep everybody going. I can, I have one of my leaders, was a new leader of a department when I started as a new executive, and so the two of us would hammer through some stuff. And I can remember that person coming in being very frustrated with some of the behaviors in the department and things. And now it's years later, and she has the best team. Her, they had 100% positive comments last quarter in their customer surveys, and so that's just like a testament to when you really do this, people are happy at work. There's constantly comments about these people are caring, they're happy, they enjoy the work they're doing. And when you see that, it's because the environment is there, and those folks then enjoy what they're doing. They're doing what they love, and it's clear. It's harder to do what you love when the environment's not in the right space.

Renee Thompson:
Ah, I will second, third, and fourth that. We can do anything again. I think of the pandemic and what everybody had to go through. It was, people barely got through that, but the ones that worked with the great team, it was easier for them to deal with the most challenging time in their entire careers than for people who worked in the dysfunctional department, because we saw it all, we saw some of the teams rose up, and they really came together, and then we saw some other teams that just completely fell apart. But it's the work environment, it's the people who you work with, and it's having that executive support and commitment to cultivating a healthy work culture. And I have one last question for you, Amy, because I know you and I have had some conversations about this. What do you do when, say, one of your managers, one of your leaders is not capable or willing to commit to a healthy work culture? How do you handle that?

Amy Visser Lynch:
So I think you've got to start off with, okay, dressing and giving the learning and the tools, right? So I always start off with like, how can I help? How can we give you the tools and the things you need to meet that expectation, right? I need you to do this. And then when that doesn't kind of go well, or it doesn't continue to allow you do some more intensive coaching and kind of, but then you have to start to move towards that sanctioning of your leader and saying, maybe this is not the right, this is not the right place for you. This is not the right role for you. But I also believe in helping find that person to the right place. How many employees do we switch from one department to the other? Like they were not doing well here, but then you get them into the right role, or you get them doing the right thing, and all of a sudden they blossom and bloom, and they're doing great, and they're your best employee. So I think it's really recognizing who has those skills and who's willing to learn them and put them to use, right? Because there's always, if it's not your mojo, it's not your mojo.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, you're right. And I look at, as you said, those employees, I always think of that nurse who wants to work critical care, brand new right out of nursing school, they want to be an ICU nurse, or they want to work in the emergency department and are completely overwhelmed, not doing well. They almost see it as a demotion to go, then to a step-down or a med surge department. But it's I always say it's all how it's fun to give them that time. I've seen amazing transformations, and some people, when you just put them in the place that they need to be, and it might just be for a period of time before they can truly step into the role that they were, that they want. There are leaders that sometimes being a manager of a department is not the right fit for them, but maybe education is, and you put them in an education role. I will say, though, and Amy, I know you agree there are just some people that the answer is not just to move them from place to place. The solution is to exit them out of the building, basically because there's, it might not be the right fit, but from a behavioral perspective, that's when you don't want to just transfer people from place to place, because you're just moving the problem in a circle around your organization.

Amy Visser Lynch:
Yeah, and that bad apple was a problem for that team. So if you take that bad apple and put it in with a good team, it has the tendency to rot the other team too. You can't, right? So it is also recognizing what is that person's strengths. Where do they shine? What's their bright spot? And then helping them find the right spot. And it might not be with your organization, it might be somewhere else. It might be a different job altogether. But understanding what their bright spot is and sharing with them. Here's your bright spot. This is where I think you will do your best, because if they feel that you have confidence in them for something, then they'll want to do something, right? When you always want to do things that people think you do well. Nobody wants to do the things that they can't do. We all want to do well, but you have to rely on a team to do that. But you also have to, and oftentimes it's those folks that recognize the strength in you that you don't notice yourself. You don't realize that those are the strengths that you bring to the table, or that's what your bright spot is. And so if you listen to sometimes the folks around you and they share what those bright spots are, it helps to steer you in the right direction.

Renee Thompson:
Yeah, that's one of the things that I love about you, Amy. You're saying you have to see the bright spot in people, find the goodness in people because it's always there. I always say, even if you have the most abrasive human being in your organization, they didn't start life that way. Everybody starts with goodness in us. And then sometimes life just gets in the way, and everybody has a story. Everybody is dealing with something in their lives. And how do you recognize that? There's a balance between understanding that human beings aren't always on their best behavior, and there might be something going on in their lives that's creating what we see when we're working with them. So that compassion, that grace. But then also you have to get to the point where you say, okay, if you're not capable or willing, then this is no longer a good fit for you. I care about you. However, you have to care about the organization and the patients that you're serving, because that behavior, depending on what the behaviors are, impacts all of that and impacts the bottom line, it really does.

Amy Visser Lynch:
Yeah, I think we all can have grace and understanding for a bad day here or there. But when it becomes normalized behavior and it is, really becomes that, that's what everybody expects from that person. Is that bad behavior? That's when you really have to step in and be like, okay, time out. We can't continue on this pathway because it just continues to be. And you don't want people to say, just like workplace violence, oh, it's just part of the job.

Renee Thompson:
Right, yeah. It's just the way it is.

Amy Visser Lynch:
It's just the way, that's just who they are. You need to get used to it, not they have to change.

Renee Thompson:
Right, yeah. Isn't that funny how we actually take the burden of that person's behavior on ourselves by doing workarounds and justifying instead of to say, ah, this is an issue, the way you're behaving is an issue, you need to adapt your behavior here? But we take on that burden all the time, because I actually think it's more painful to really address that, that problem with that person. It's easier just to do the workarounds for us psychologically, and that's short-term thinking. Long-term, there are major consequences.

Amy Visser Lynch:
There are, because it wears you down. It destroys your resilience, right? So you're giving away parts of yourself that you can't get back. So you've got to, you have to make that stand. And I think that's what helped me to put the stake in the ground, was really seeing how it impacts others, because that's what hurts me the most, is the impact that it has on everybody else, not the impact it has on me. It's not about me, it's about them. It's about the folks that I'm servicing and I, Mama bear, you're not going to do that to my folks.

Renee Thompson:
That's right. I will go Mother bear on you if you do anything to harm my people, okay, my little cubs. Okay, I'll go Mama bear on you. Well, Amy, if there's someone listening right now who really wants to put their own stake in the ground, what would you recommend to them as maybe a first step?

Amy Visser Lynch:
A first step would have the conversation with your leaders, whether it's one-on-one or as a group or whatever, but sitting down and saying, what are those challenges? What are those behaviors you're seeing in your thinking that are maybe impacting staff morale, staff engagement, or even just the care that's being delivered when we're on eggshells or we're not. We're not, we have we're dealing with behavioral challenges with our colleagues. It's harder to provide the care to the patients that we deliver care to. It impacts all of those things. Everybody feels it. Patients feel it. The staff feel it. It's just not where you want to be. So start having the conversation, just have the conversation. What are some of the challenges of behaviors you're having? Here's what I see, or here's what I've heard, or here's what is in a comment. Like you said, whether it's exit interviews or wherever you hear it from. But then say to yourself, okay, what's the theme here? And then how do we look forward to it? And of course, always calling you, Renee, makes all the difference in the world.

Renee Thompson:
Well, thank you, Amy. Now we have had several more than several conversations. And I think to your point, I could see I always have my coffee. I could see just how inviting your leaders to having a chit-chat over coffee, just to start the conversation about what's happening out there related to culture, related to behavior. They're so used to focusing on the quality metrics and numbers and all of these staffing numbers. Talk to them about how are you dealing with some of these behaviors right now. Let's talk about it so that you especially if you're the executive, you can start getting a sense of what are some of the common themes and then start addressing those common themes. So oh my gosh, Amy, I could talk to you all day. Thank you so much. Thank you for being a guest. Can you tell people how to connect with you?

Amy Visser Lynch:
Sure. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, and I'm sure that Renee can put that in for you guys so that you'll see how to find me.

Renee Thompson:
Yes. We'll put the link to Amy's LinkedIn profile page on our show notes, along with some of the books and resources that we've talked about. Because very similar to what Amy's doing, you listen to this podcast, you read a book, you attend a conference, a session on whatever topic, it's not enough. You have to continue. You have to continue your learning. And I keep thinking about that compound effect. It's almost the end. Well, by the time this airs, the end of the year is over, and I would have read that book again. But it's one of those habits that I have every single year. And because it works and it's just a great reminder. So thank you again, Amy, for being a guest on our show and for all of the great work that you're doing at Mount Ascutney to really cultivate a healthy work culture.

Amy Visser Lynch:
Thank you, Renee, it was a pleasure to be here with you. Enjoyed the conversation as always.

Renee Thompson:
Me too. And I just want to thank all of you for listening, for carving out time in your busy day, because I know you're super busy, and for all of your commitment to doing your part to stop the cycle of bullying and incivility. We have important work to do in healthcare. And as I say, no time for shenanigans. Okay, we have important work to do. So just remember that the way we treat each other is just as important as the care that we provide. Thanks, everyone. Take care.

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.

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Things You’ll Learn:
  • Seeking external partnerships is valuable in developing effective strategies for creating a healthier work environment.
  • Leadership retreats serve as an effective method for introducing leaders to the principles of creating a healthy work culture, focusing on clarity and kindness.
  • Shifting from manager-led to team-led accountability is pivotal for fostering a cultural change where team members hold each other accountable.
  • Strategies such as creating sacred spaces for conversations and addressing gossip contribute to a workplace culture where communication is open, respectful, and focused on maintaining a positive atmosphere.
  • Recognizing and leveraging individual strengths is essential, steering individuals toward roles where they can thrive within the organization.
  • Taking a stand against normalized disruptive behavior is essential for organizational resilience and employee satisfaction.
Resources:
  • Connect with and follow Amy Visser-Lynch on LinkedIn.
  • Follow Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center on LinkedIn.
  • Explore the Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center Website!
  • Check out The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy here!
  • Pick up a copy of Atomic Habits by James Clear here!
  • Get a copy of No Ego by Cy Wakeman 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.
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