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Culture Change from the Inside Out

Posted Oct 28 2008 9:40pm
When I was in graduate school, still under the illusion that I wanted to become a family therapist, I learned a principle of human behavior that I rely on to this day: if you want to change other people's behavior, you have to first change your own behavior. It's the whole "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction" principle.

Of course, other people don't always change in the way we want, or even expect. Sometimes, especially with our kids, they find a way to respond to our changes that never occurred to us. But I digress.

What I'm thinking about is the whole culture change movement, taken community by community, building by building. Maybe the culture you're trying to change is simply the way your day shift interacts with the evening shift.

Maybe you're trying to get caregivers just to show up on time, and not be such drama kings and queens.

These changes are certainly a part of the work culture. And they don't change, unless we change our behavior first.

How can you change your culture from the inside out? Start by what you focus on. I was chatting with a colleague about one sure way to change our individual cultures: change the way we orient and train new staff. If we train new people, from day one, to act in a certain way, they may get out "on the floor" and see things happening differently from the way they were trained. They may say, "But that's not how we're supposed to do it," challenging "old-timers" to step up and perform differently.

Debbie Buck (Board of Nursing) tells me that when best practice began to recommend gait belts, few nursing facilities had them in use - or even on the premises. As new nursing assistants were trained to use gait belts during initial training, they began asking their supervisors to please provide them. Now, gait belts are common and available nearly everywhere. It probably was a more effective way to change that particular part of behavior much more effectively than mandating that all staff shall now use gait belts.

What if we teach principles of resident care and of working together in the same manner? As we turn out new staff, trained in new ways, we can change the culture from the inside out - from the bottom up.

It might just be the way cluture change really has to happen.

Keep 'em Motivated Idea of the Week!

Team Meetings can be very powerful. However, it can be difficult to keep employees engaged during meetings. Here are a few things to consider the next time you schedule a team meeting:

  • Have an Agenda: Outline ahead of time what points will be covered in the meeting. Write it out, and distribute it to participants ahead of time. This will help avoid the "chasing of rabbits," and help participants be more prepared for the meeting.

  • Follow the Agenda: This sounds very elementary, but you'd be surprised by the number of people who take the time to create an agenda, and then totally disregard the agenda during the meeting.

  • Limit the Agenda to Three Points or Less: Ask yourself, "What are the three most important things we need to cover in the meeting?" Limit the agenda to these three points. The rest of the things you wanted to cover, by definition, weren't really that important anyway, so why waste everyone's time.

  • Set a Time Limit: I would suggest setting the time limit for the meeting to be no longer than 30-minutes. In future meetings, shorten the time by five minutes until the time limit is 15-minutes or less. The leader of the meeting will become much more efficient, and the participants will become much more focused as well. When the time limit is up, end the meeting. You may not get to cover every single thing that you wanted to the first couple of times you try this, but within a short time, you will find that the major information points are being discussed and decisions are being made very efficiently.
  • Encourage Participation from Everyone, but don't Force Them: Instead of going around the table and asking for opinions or input, just ask a question and let people volunteer their answers. There will be times during any meeting that each person will "phase out" (especially if it is a looooong and BOW-ring meeting.) If we call on every person, it wastes time, and puts people on the spot. Other ways of encouraging participation is to just ask a question, and after someone answers, say something like, "Good, let's hear from someone else." If there are people in your meeting who rarely speak, instead of calling on them directly, you might say something like, "I value the opinion of each of you, does anyone else have something to add." Then, just look at the person you want to hear from. If he or she has something to say, he or she will say it if encouraged in this way. If he or she doesn't, then you haven't embarrassed the person.

Motivating your team is an important part of good leadership. It may also be one of the strongest tools to help you reach YOUR goals,too. CEUs for senior care professionals · Staff training for caregivers · Caregiver job applications right to your inbox
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