Archive October 2019 XX, No. 10

Staffing: In Need of a Culture Change?

Do away with bullying, complaining and disrespectful behavior.

Laura Rowe

Laura Rowe, MSN, RN


Laura Rowe, MSN, RN
UNITED IN SERVICE Lakeside Surgery Center's staff teamed up to buy bicycles and helmets for members of a local Boys & Girls Club.

The workplace environment at our surgery center is healthy and morale is high. We have regular pot luck dinners and wear T-shirts designed by the daughter of one of our employees whenever we volunteer in the community. We like each other. A lot.

That wasn't always the case. About 18 months ago, staff members complained about on-the-job issues to anyone who would listen. Longtime employees formed negative cliques. They arranged work schedules to benefit themselves, felt entitled and made it hard on new staff members with whom they didn't connect, sometimes driving away the newly hired workers. Things needed to change, so we took steps to end toxic relationships and develop a team full of togetherness.

1 Set clear expectations
Staff were feeling bullied, not supported by management and poorly treated by colleagues, surgeons and anesthesiologists. We had to learn to respect each other and become a tighter group. That meant everyone — including physicians — had to sign a newly created code of conduct. Anyone who violated the code was brought in for a counseling session and told that leadership would try to help them improve their behavior. We weren't looking to fire anyone; we were trying to help employees grow, but with the clear understanding that they needed to make changes in how they treated others. The code of conduct is very specific and makes it clear that everybody deserves respect. The signed code is kept in every employee's file. If we have an issue, we meet with the staff member, discuss the problematic behavior, show them the code and say, "This is what you signed. We're concerned, and we need to redirect your behavior."

Having that signed document on hand helped when we had the tough conversations with staff, telling them they're bullying others or playing one person against another. The conversations weren't easy and at times very uncomfortable, but ultimately productive. Troublesome employees realized they had to align themselves with the facility's values — or leave.

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