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Best Practices & Tools

Raising Expectations of Employee Performance

Healthcare workers want to provide the best patient-centered care and service. But no-one is perfect: we make mistakes, are sometimes rude or unaccommodating. If we are unaware of less-than-ideal behavior, if it is ignored and tolerated, if no one intervenes, it becomes normalized. These behaviors may fall in a “gray area”—they are tolerated because they are occasional, or because we have mixed feelings about them and about the possibility of addressing them. But accepting such behaviors lowers our standards for care and service excellence. This negatively impacts our work culture. We fail to keep our promises to the people we serve, and to each other.

You CAN take action to raise standards and achieve greatness in family and patient-centered care. By identifying normalized negative behaviors and communicating expectations for improvement, you can support managers and staff in replacing below-par behaviors with top-quality ones.

  1. Acknowledge and identify problem behaviors. This first pivotal step is not easy. Engage your leadership team in identifying normalized behaviors that should not be tolerated. Make a commitment to change them.
  2. Tackle one behavior at a time. The list of behaviors you wish you change may be overwhelming. If leaders don’t know where to begin, they may not begin at all. Prioritize. Target one unacceptable behavior which, if eliminated, will have the greatest positive impact on your organization, staff, patients, and families. For example: slow response to patients’ needs, taking personal calls while talking with patients, not washing hands, or any other behavior which impacts patient care. Pick one behavior you will focus on changing.
  3. Engage and support all work teams in eliminating this behavior. Once you select your focus, make a case for eliminating this behavior. Explain what the problem normalized behavior is, why it isn’t acceptable, and what behavior is expected instead. Make it clear that this is an organization-wide campaign. It is critical that all leaders and departments consistently support the decision and hold themselves and staff accountable to changing the targeted behavior.
  4. Develop a plan. Make a plan for meeting the new expectation and holding each other accountable. Decide what the consequences will be for below-par behavior and the rewards for excellent behavior.
  5. Provide support and coaching for all employees. Train everyone to use the Caring Feedback Model to confront problematic behavior with compassion.

‘Good to Great” is only rhetoric unless leaders raise expectations and standards, insisting on replacing lackluster performance with excellent service and care.

For more on accountability and raising expectations, check out our webinar replay.