Welcome to Mindfulness in Medicine, a monthly column by best-selling author Anne Bruce designed to cultivate leadership and collaborative relationships among hospital leaders, nurses, providers and ancillary staff. Mindfulness is a powerful leadership tool that enhances emotional intelligence in medicine. It is a tool that, when practiced, can help us develop and implement relational coaching skills and illuminate various ways to improve hospital operations and cross-departmental performance. Mindfulness also improves our capacity for decision-making and participatory medicine, all while enhancing our own health and well-being. Your comments and insights on these postings are greatly valued.
Leadership guru and bestselling author and speaker Tom Peters wrote that the most important and essential virtue or attribute in any business today — including the healthcare industry — is not technology, training, cutting-edge conferences or communication skills. It’s trust.
Trust is a necessity for success. This is especially true in medicine, where much trust has been compromised or lost between healthcare institutions, doctors, nurses and patients over the years.
Unfortunately, there is an epidemic taking place when it comes to lost trust. Critical organizational systems on which our society depends — our healthcare, financial, educational and legal systems — are frequently failing the people they serve, regardless of their technological know-how.
One reason for diminished trust in our society today is that a good bit of our conscious capitalism is faltering. The basic tenets of trust — higher purpose, stakeholder integration and conscious leadership, married to a conscious culture — have slowly slipped away. In order to build back a stronger, more reliable healthcare system, we need to start rebuilding these tenets among workers in modern medicine, especially if we are to help build stronger medical practices, hospitals, and provider relationships and foster a more positive environment for patients in the process.
How to Identify a High-Trust Healthcare Environment
High-trust environments are mindful. It’s more than the bottom line. It’s about the people. It’s about compassion.
High-trust businesses are energetic, optimistic and can overcome great odds when necessary. Trust is a powerful energy. It radiates out to all stakeholders. Team members of high-trust organizations are more engaged and effective in their work. Why? Because they create synergy, enabling people collectively to achieve far more than they could on their own. It takes synergy to build trustworthiness.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to the people we select, hire and develop, and the way that they interface with our patients, clients, and the communities we serve.
Cultivating a High-Trust Healthcare Environment
When a medical facility lacks trust, it fosters defensive behaviors among staff. Suspicious, insular and fearful types of thinking result. All of this depletes the environment of creative and innovative thinking and solution finding, which are necessary in modern medicine today. Lack of trust can result in sluggish unresponsiveness to patients and indifference toward their needs, creating the burden of increased monitoring of systems and larger legal costs in the end.
One Florida hospital hired a high-priced consulting firm to start a marketing campaign to build trust among community members toward the hospital and its providers. After spending more than $2 million, hospital leaders and administrators could see the campaign was doomed to fail! Why? Because, much like medicine, trust is complex and rarely lends itself to quick fixes. Lack of trust usually has deep cultural business roots beneath it. Trust can only be earned slowly and must be the result of ongoing actions, proven outcomes and not just words!
Trust between doctors and nurses — not to mention between patients and their providers — greatly enhances a medical environment’s reputation. Therefore, a high-trust medical facility will always attract better, more competent professionals, suppliers and investors. All of this combined creates a mindful and virtuous cycle that builds over time to create a better healthcare environment that generates stronger trust between patients and their providers while generating a feeling of well-being for all concerned.
Here Are a Few Mindful Takeaways on How Your Workplace Can Build Trust and a More Mindful Work Environment for Everyone
You cannot build trust if you do not embrace transparency. When people keep things hidden, it is almost always due to a lack of trust. Someone is afraid that certain information would cause more harm than good if discovered.
Of course, transparency exists on a continuum. On one hand, it's important to protect patients' privacy and comply with privacy laws. However, secrecy can also be taken too far. Organizations that have zero transparency usually have something real to fear or keep from their people. Conscious, high-trust organizations determine what is an appropriate balance for their leadership, employees and the patients being served.
Conscious cultures are marked by their authenticity and fairness. All human beings have a strong desire and need to be heard, respected, valued and treated fairly. Research demonstrates over and over that people would rather have a fair and transparent process for making decisions (even if it leads to an unfavorable outcome for them personally) versus an unfair process that fulfills their wishes once in a while.
Get Purposely Motivated
High-trust healthcare organizations are high-purpose healthcare organizations. Over time, we can forget or lose sight of why we do what we do to begin with. We can become narrow-minded and motivated by institutional self-interests. We are purposely motivated when we are able to sustain value creation for all stakeholders.
Identifying the organization’s higher purpose in caring for patients and one another, along with shared core values, will unify teams and organically create a higher level of shared ethical commitment. With this automatically comes greater levels of trust among the ranks.
Trust Is a Two-Way Street
If leaders want to be trusted, they must show trust in return. Leaders must trust their people to use their best judgment rather than trying to control them with too many rules and regulations. Data shows us time and again that the performance of team members is strongly aligned with the degree to which they are trusted by leadership.
Spying on employees makes employees hostile and less engaged. When trusted to do the right thing, most people will respond with integrity.
Interested in Bringing a Learning Program on Trust to Your Team?
If you or your colleagues are interested in bringing mindfulness training on trust to your workplace, contact Anne Bruce for resources and professional contacts in this area.
Anne Bruce has provided training and performance coaching for Vituity. She also serves as MBSI's Employee Development Coach and Leadership Facilitator. Anne is a bestselling author with more than 20 books published by McGraw-Hill Publishing, New York. She considers her award-winning life-coaching book, Discover True North: A 4-Week Approach to Ignite Passion and Activate Potential (McGraw-Hill Publishing) to be one of her most "mindful" books to date. She also leads a popular Discover True North Expedition group on LinkedIn. Anne can be reached at 214-507-8242 or by writing to her at Anne@AnneBruce.com.
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