Changing Your Internal Story, Leaving Self Sabotage for Behind the Scenes

How a Caregiver’s Self-Sabotaging Behavior Can Affect the Patient Experience
 
I just returned from a mid-winter getaway to a warmer climate with my husband and kids. It’s always interesting how a brief sabbatical from work always seems to lead me right back to my work. Not physically, but where I am focused on how employees could do better if they were engaged with their work. Whether it’s the hotel we’re staying at, a restaurant we dine at, or in this case, a charter boat we cruised on, it’s difficult for me to ignore these things. And our boat trip on vacation was no different.

Head of the charter that day was Captain Bill. Although this is not a typical day for me and my family, it likely is for Captain Bill. He is an employee of the charter company and this boating adventure is probably his day in, day out work. For us, however, it was a new and exciting experience. My young children enjoying their very first trip out to sea were more than delighted with both the entire experience and the amount of fish Captain Bill brought in with his net.

That’s where that button I wish I could turn off sometimes came into play. Working with hospitals on employee engagement for more than a decade, I tune in pretty quickly to service excellence—or lack thereof. In fact, after the trip I would say that the only reason I wouldn’t rate the experience as excellent is because of Captain Bill. Don’t get me wrong, he was an excellent guide as far as how the rest of the experience went, but what I found was that his grumblings about the number of fish that were brought in dampened my overall experience. You see, Captain Bill is probably used to bringing in many more fish than we captured that day; but for us, we didn’t know what a typical catch looks like. The kids were thrilled just to be catching any fish at all.
Had Captain Bill changed his internal story and not voiced his disappointment in the fishy turn out, we would have never known the difference. This is what I refer to as self-sabotaging behavior. Had he not shown and voiced his own disappointment, I would have rated everything as excellent.

So, in turning to the healthcare world, whether there’s a problem drawing blood, a delay in schedule, or any other disappointment we feel as the care staff, if we leave that behind the scenes and project a more positive approach, we could change an entire patient experience. My mother once told me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. This goes along with withholding our feelings, frustrations, disappointments, and short-comings, and the belief that when we project positivity, positive energy will be the end-result—for the patient and the employee alike. The same goes for negativity and negative energy.

PRC helps healthcare organizations monitor and enhance employee engagement. Our research provides organizational, supervisory, and team level reports with custom data and reporting tools that help C-suite executives lead change. This process helps leaders create a culture where employees are willing to invest more in their performance, and care is more consistent across the organization. PRC’s services include Employee Engagement Studies, Employee Exit Interview Studies, Patient Safety Studies (AHRQ) and Nursing Quality Assessment Studies. Please visit our Employee Engagement page for more information about how we can help you and your employees project excellence.


About the Author

Cynthia King

Cynthia A King, PhD - Director of Client Organizational Development, PRC

Dr. King joined PRC in 2009. Currently serving as the leader for PRC’s Employee Engagement division, she led the development of the Engagement Index that is currently used in all PRC engagement studies and specializes in helping healthcare organizations find effective and efficient ways to engage employees and caregivers improve their overall culture. She is an expert in Action Planning for Excellence, is an accomplished speaker, and published author. King earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree, majoring in Psychology, at the University of Texas in Austin. She also holds a Master of Arts in Educational Psychology, with an emphasis in Program Evaluation, and a doctorate in Educational Psychology, with a specialization in Learning, Cognition, Motivation, and Instruction from the University of Texas, Austin.

Connect with Cynthia via LinkedIn.