Positive energy is essential to help you achieve your vision. Energy is contagious whether it is positive or negative. Negativity is not productive in the work environment and does not serve a purpose. Many of you have heard the phrase, what you think about, you bring about. It is so true! What we put our energy into and focus on will show up more in our life. Unfortunately, some people complain and are continuously negative, and therefore it brings about a negative outcome. In Jon Gordon’s book The Energy Bus, on which this course is based, he calls those negative people Energy Vampires. That is a perfect name for the negative people because at times they really suck the life out of you!
We spend so much of our life at work, and with today’s stressors, especially in healthcare, there are more challenges than ever before. The attitude we bring to work plays an important role. Always try to give positive reinforcement, show gratitude, and most importantly, spread happiness!4
After twenty years of working as a nurse, Susan noticed that a twelve-hour shift in the ICU working with several negative staff members was more mentally and physically exhausting than working the shift and taking care of the sickest patient on the unit, short-staffed and going without a break!
Research shows that negative energy can cause medical problems with our immune system, blood pressure, sleep cycle, and energy levels causing a huge obstacle to being positive. It is vitally important to encourage the positive energy. If you encourage the positive, then the negative will not spread. So, as Jon Gordon says, Feed the Positive Dog…2
A man goes to the village to visit the wise man and he says to the wise man, “I feel like there are two dogs inside of me. One dog is this positive, loving, kind and gentle dog and then I have this angry mean-spirited and negative dog and they fight all of the time. I don’t know which one is going to win.” The wise man thinks for a moment and he says, “I know which one is going to win, the one you feed the most, so feed the positive dog” 2
As Jon Gordon proposes, the fuel for your bus is the positive energy….so; here are a few notes on how to fuel up!
- Positive Energy + Positive People = Positive Outcomes
- Positive energy helps keep your bus moving toward your vision
- Positive doesn’t just change you; it changes everything around you
- When you are positive, you not only make yourself better, you make everyone around you better
- The more positive dogs, the better!
To help the nurse leader, whether this is a Nurse Manager, Nursing Supervisor, Charge Nurse, Assistant Director or any one in authority, there are steps to take to make the work environment a positive one. Positive work environments help to create more positive dogs.
This type of positive work environment facilitates a feeling of cooperation, teamwork and joy among healthcare providers at all levels which results in better care to their patients and customers.
- To be successful it is vital that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) be involved because this individual helps to set the tone and creates an incentive for employees to excel. This person can give out special awards and certificates of recognition to deserving employees. At times the CEO can connect with the staff at town meetings or visit the different areas that help to make patients/customers feel valued as they receive the care to improve their health in a timely and safe manner.
- Eliminate the cliques that are endemic in any large organization in order to develop trust so that all are working toward implementing the organization’s Vision Statement. Everyone would then have the same objective and feel part of the master plan of the organization. People from different departments would then work together cohesively for their common goal.
- Everyone in the organization must always remember that patients are customers.
- Physicians need to be a part of creating a positive work environment since they bring in the customers. Keeping an open line of communication between all departments can help to develop a great place to work and create clinical excellence. All departments working together end up giving the patients/customers excellent care.
- Employees need to feel empowered and valued. Using the concept of Shared Governance allows the employees to verbalize what has been done, what could be done to improve patient care and changes that might be implemented to provide safe quality patient care.
- Employees need training and constant education to improve their scope of practice. Training sessions should include how they are working to implement the mission and vision, as they all work together to give the best patient care possible. Training keeps employees up to date with changes being made to improve care, processes, new policies and procedures they are accountable for implementing.
- Leadership as a whole needs to be visible on all shifts and should listen to what staff has to say. Communicating how they are doing in implementing the organization's mission and vision is one way to help employees feel important and valued. Asking staff what they need to improve patient care and what they are presently doing is important. Listening to the staff in all departments and their suggestions can improve the work environment hospital wide.
- Organizations to survive need to take risks and be willing to explore new systems which could improve and provide the best safe quality patient care. This might entail being open to new viewpoints and developing new relationships with people who are involved with preparing for the future. (i.e.: technological innovations, computer systems, communication systems, training tools & seminars).
- Developing respect for nurses and everyone in the organization. This entails preventing sexual harassment and having and implementing the consequences if this occurs. This helps to create a healthy and positive work environment for all.
- Staff from all departments should be active within their community. Customers respect those who are active members of the community they live in and will refer others to come to their hospital.
These ten factors are beneficial in helping to build a positive work environment, but as leaders, there is more to learn in building cooperation, teamwork, a positive attitude and pride in their accomplishments.2
The factors that leaders need to learn and practice include the following:
- Building a Trustful Environment by doing what you say you are going to do in a timely manner. Leaders need to be reliable, responsible, accountable, dependable, and consistent in their actions. Leaders’ words and behaviors affect how employees develop a trustful relationship. Once trust is broken it takes a long time to repair this relationship.
In challenging situations, it is important a leader is up front, honest, tactful, and compassionate, even if the staff does not appreciate what is being done and said. Employees need to know when they say something in confidence it is kept that way. An effective manager never talks about his staff in a negative, destructive way. The manager should strive to emphasize the positive and be willing to provide the necessary education which will enhance the team.
- Leaders need to learn to communicate positively and openly creating a work environment where employees feel proud of their accomplishments and valued.
Leaders should have regular staff meetings for all shifts. During these meetings reinforcement of the organization’s philosophy, mission, values, and goals should be stressed. Using the Shared Government Model employees are asked for their ideas and thoughts on how they individually and as a team can help the supervisors unit accomplish the organization’s purpose. Once again, the leader needs to share his or her own vision on how the healthcare team can accomplish what the organization requires to fulfill its philosophy, mission, values, and goals. The weekly meetings are an excellent venue for rewards and recognition. After the initial business is attended to, make the rest of the meeting fun.4
Everyone should feel they are all on the same level and everyone’s job is equally important.
Employees need to realize that they are accountable to their job and showing up with a positive attitude, and on time which is expected. Focusing on work and leaving at home the challenges that are occurring is vital to the success of each person. Therefore, personal issues should be left at home. Work should be a place for professional growth and lifetime learning. Everyone needs to feel valued and respected.
- Leaders/supervisors set the stage and should expect the best from their staff. Employees generally perform in the way they are expected to perform. If they are treated as being capable, competent, and trustworthy, they will strive to do their best. However, if micromanaged and seen to be mediocre, the leader will receive behavior that the leader expected. A good, productive supervisor should always have high expectations for his/her staff and treats them accordingly and with pride.
- A constant action a supervisor/leader needs to do is Create a Positive Team Spirit. A team approach helps people feel part of something bigger than themselves, part of a supportive work group and builds a unified team. Having pride in what they do decreases tardiness and absenteeism while accomplishing the organization’s mission, vision, and goals.
?Creating this team spirit and identity can be accomplished by the following
- Convey to the staff that everyone plays an important role.
- Encourage an attitude of cooperation rather than competition.
- Help each team member know they are valued and create an atmosphere of respect for each other and their special contributions.
- Be open to communication from everyone, including patients, residents, family members, peers, and staff.
- Be responsive to the needs of all who share their concerns.
- Be attentive when listening by establishing eye contact and your full attention.
- During staff meetings set time to recognize accomplishments, and have staff write down words of appreciation on a card of the co-worker, including positive personal characteristics, attitudes and special skills they bring to the team.
- Ensure that constructive humor is part of the daily work environment while treating all with respect.
- As a leader, be human and learn to laugh at one-self and model this for your staff.
- Practice problem solving and awareness exercises at staff meetings and have each write down how they can create a positive team spirit.
- Respect each other’s culture.
- It is vital for the leader/supervisor to give recognition and appreciation whenever possible. Stress your appreciation for those who stretch by doing overtime, willingness to float with a positive attitude, doing something special for a customer and or family member, helping another staff member with a challenging chore, consistently doing an excellent job. Have awards ceremonies and give out certificates of recognition for an outstanding accomplishment.
When possible make sure on your staff’s evaluations their accomplishments are recognized and rewarded. Rewards could be a financial bonus, a step level, or however the organization shows appreciation for an outstanding job.
- As a supervisor give credit and take responsibility. Praise staffs who are successful in their accomplishments and if things do not go as planned take responsibility. This means that staff may need to be trained, re-educated, and given constructive direction so that they can perform up to the required standards.
- Leaders/Supervisors in all departments need to Be Available and Approachable to staff and all customers. Listen attentively to what is being said and convey your concern and respect their suggestions to solving the challenges that have occurred. Do the necessary follow-up and inform those of the progress being made into solving their problems. Thank customers, staff for their concerns and input, show respect. Be positive, smile and use body language to show that you are attentive to what is being said.
- Provide a Positive physical environment on your own as well as on the employee’s unit. Environments should be clean, well-organized, and cheerful, with proper lighting and give each staff member room for their personal space.
- When a leader/supervisor does evaluations with staff, make evaluations a positive experience to help them grow and give praise for their team-work and cooperative spirit. Utilize this time to thank them for bringing their special talents to the team. When discussing where improvement is needed focus on the good and all they are doing right
- Leaders need to help make work fun and enjoyable. This can be accomplished by celebrating special events like birthdays, the birth of a baby, upcoming marriages. Employees should be asked how they would develop a happier atmosphere.
Listen to what the employee has to say and help them establish goals. Prior to completing staff’s evaluations ask for their input with examples of what they have done as individuals and as part of the healthcare team. Use this information in their evaluations.
When meeting with the employee ask them to share what they have written, and discuss it with them. Obtain further input on how to prepare for the future by covering.
- What new education do they need to gain within the next six months to improve their work, team participation, and care of their patients?
- What skills do they want to develop to reach their objectives?
- What would they like to do differently when working with their peers?
- What can you as a leader do to assist them in reaching their goals?
- Revisit the evaluation in six months and ask how they are accomplishing their goals and how they have been dealing with any challenges/conflicts.
- Ask staff what else needs to be done to resolve any conflicts and how you as a supervisor may assist.
As a manager and supervisor challenges are met when having to counsel an employee who is not performing up to the established, required, standards. Prior to the evaluation counseling should have occurred and resolutions discussed. Progress or lack of should be noted on the evaluation. This is an opportunity for the supervisor to demonstrate how the employee has improved his performance, behavior, and quality of their work. The employee should feel that their manager has been supportive. The employee may decide to choose to leave or choose to stay on.
An effective manager helps the staff member at the end of the evaluation feel appreciated, in control with personal power over their work life and future. Most of all they need to feel valued. This is accomplished as leaders focus on their staff’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. People need to work in a positive environment where they can excel, feel comfortable and have fun doing their job. Managers often have to be creative in accomplishing their goals to improve the work environment.