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Where are your ‘Quick Wins’?

Published on
23 April 2019
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Modern healthcare is such a complex challenge, with so many overlapping systems  -  many of which we can’t control. Developing fit for purpose solutions to these challenges will be generally be a long game and, as Rene Amalberti (global Safety Expert and co-author of Safer Healthcare  - Strategies for the Real World) recently put it, ‘a moving target’.

With many of the serious challenges in healthcare performance being ‘slow burn’, for example tackling the chronic staffing problems, it can be easily to get disillusioned and feel like nothing is changing. It therefore becomes incredibly important to also seek out those ‘quick wins’ — seemingly small things within our control that make a positive difference, however small.

So what might these be?

Take a typical working day coming to the end of a shift, you’re tired and irritable after a poor night's’ sleep, had a full day seeing patients and dealing with that dreaded understaffed rota (again) and a junior colleague asks a question, something that they should have learnt on their first day of training! With a roll of the eyes and an exasperated sigh you curtly tell them that it isn’t your job to hold their hand every 5 minutes and they should take more responsibility. Don’t they realise you’ve been on the go for 12 hours and have better things to do than answer stupid questions?!

So how many of your have been on either the transmitting or receiving end of a situation like that? I’ve certainly been on both ends! Just part of life, things are busy, nothing we can do — right? And in the grand scheme of things, how we speak to our colleagues is not really that big of a deal when compared to everything else involved in delivering high quality healthcare.

Or is it?

Have you ever worried about asking a ‘stupid’ question and when you do pluck up the courage, instead of biting your head of the person you ask responds with civility and interest, even kindness? How did that impact how you felt? Did you feel better or worse? What happens to our motivation, sense of purpose and performance when colleagues treat us with respect and listen with the intent to understand rather than simply waiting for their turn to speak?

What if tomorrow we all approached our interactions with a little more curiosity and a little less judgement?

Coming back to that oft quoted issue of staffing — how many people in your organisation do you know that have left a job because of the behaviour of those around them? And how many have stayed in a struggling organisation because they felt that they were part of a team that truly valued and respected them? Perhaps this concept of civility to those around us is more important than we think and could potentially impact on even the biggest of issues.

What if tomorrow we all approached our interactions with a little more curiosity and a little less judgement? I wonder why this person is behaving like this? What might they be thinking or feeling in this moment? If we all set ourselves this challenge daily how much better might our working environments be? Every brilliant healthcare professional that doesn’t leave the profession because of the people they work with and for is a win for industry, and we can all do our part — every day.

For more information and research evidence on the impact of Civility on performance and patient safety visit Civility Saves Lives