Joined: February 15, 2005
From: Indianapolis, IN
Greetings and thanks again for reading. I've been on alot of planes the past two weeks. The plus of travel is that it gives me "window time" and a chance to review happenings with a perspective.
Although humbling to admit, I got off on the wrong floor and ended up in the wrong therapy department in a large hospital system this week. The therapists sitting with blank expressions at their desks were not in any hurry to help me find my way and in fact all I could do was depart as quickly as possible from the tension thick room. Instantaneous Climate Audit...I could feel the negativity and with each verbal exchange wondered how would a PATIENT feel in this environment? Wait...wasn't this job supposed to be fun? Granted, I may have caught them on a bad day or a bad moment but perhaps I did take the relationship temperature of this therapy department and found it accurately to be quite toxic.
We spend so much of our lives at work that it NEEDS to be a pleasurable place to be. Moreover, research has shown that people and organizations who "understand fun" are more creative, more productive and have much lower rates of absenteeism and of course, turnover. In our industry right now there isn't room for that. Work and fun do not need to be mutually exclusive...And understanding this fact will have measurable positive results to a therapy provider, department or clinic.
In the world of therapy it would seem this is a no brainer. Therapy with humour works; you've heard the adage that laughter is the best medicine. From the customer service perspective, service with a smile also goes without saying. The stuff you remember is the fun stuff. Patients will remember their experience with you if it is fun. Of equal importance, your team members, your employees will stay with you if their experience with you feels more like the experience they have with family and friends. If they can be the same person in both environments.
Some of the most productive clinics and those with the highest retention rates offer some clues on how to set the tone for a culture that comprehends "fun". As a leader it is not your job to entertain the people who work for you but you can create an atmosphere that invites them to be themselves and express their own playfulness.
Jim was amazing to watch in the clinic. He got patients that would not participate with any other therapist to perform. Jim was the affable comedian. He could form rapport with a patient in minutes and have them totally at ease and chuckling in their wheelchair. Where did these jokes come from? Other patients would come down to therapy early to be around the great energy in the gym. Therapy was the high point in their day. Patient outcomes were consistently high.
Sarah was, to quote Nancy Ahlrichs, a "Manager of Choice." Her private practice had a reputation of a coveted place to work. She attracted much of the talent because of the organizational culture she created and maintained. Monthly "cookoffs", Random Acts of Kindness, team celebrations of reaching benchmarks, all contributed to her success. And the success of her team.
Of course the list wouldn't be complete without mentioning my flight attendant on SouthWest Airlines, Jake. SouthWest is of course known for their playful customer service and happy productive employees. Jake swirled and swirled and dramatically sniffed the bouquet of the screwtop bottle of Pinot Noir before pouring into my plastic glass; I couldn't help but enjoy my flight home.
As a leader of your own corportate culture, how do you rate your "fun" temperature?
What innovative practices for setting the tone have you put in place or experienced in your own organization?
I am me.I come with a sense of humour, I have a secretary with a sense of humour - we both accept that we are in the "business" of people - people who have often had experiences with a "system" e.i. doctor's office, hospital waiting room, specialist's 30 seconds.... We joke when we can, we take time on the phone with questions, copy recipes from magazines when asked, thank them for bringing a coffee, hug them for a loss they suffered - it is in all honesty, much a reflection of what I would want if I were a patient. I have found a family doc who's office is similar - love it. My clinic has the best view ever: almost downtown, but with a wide ravine at the back full off big trees in all varieties: beautiful and peaceful all year round - full of bird and wildlife. A major point of conversation and a major factor in the "feel" of the clinic. We laugh a lot..... I am sure this rant was not very focused and helpful for others, but there you have it....
Joined: May 11, 2004
I could never work in a place where fun didn't occur. For some reason, everyone says I "play" all day. I've been told on more than one occasion to go to my end of the building and play. I'm not the one who should ever be chosen call in a bomb threat... for some reason, no one takes me seriously, so then they fail the trial run. LOL And, I'm not allowed to use super glue ever... a minor incident happened at work and it was decided for my safety that I'm not skilled in superglue usage. AND... I'm positively reinforced with candy bars by my office manager when I get my paperwork done in a real timely manner. And I'm not really sure how it is that patients from one particular physician come in for their initial appointment and call me by my nickname... they find humor in it. To be heckled and teased by a complete stranger is a weird way to begin a relationship. And, I have this cool magazine of George Clooney on it, that when I hold it to my left, he's looking at me. Sometimes I have to share him and bring him out to look at some other female who's depressed or hurting. No need for simple contact, no need for manipulation, no need for anything but George. LOL And of course the one time that I attended work in a sling with a busted clavicle... every patient gave me their nods and vocalized that they just knew I was a disaster waiting to happen with my horse. Those same looks all day of "horse did it." LOL And then, the majority threatened that they were going to come in and do rehab on me!
There's always fun when there is a high comfort level, humility, the ability to laugh at oneself and a level of acceptance between everyone involved. The day I'm no longer having fun, something has to change... and if it can't change, I'm done...
Joined: February 15, 2005
From: Indianapolis, IN
Thanks for sharing everyone. (The George Clooney thing is priceless.)
One of my best was our annual TBI unit Holiday party where we sang Christmas carols with the words changed to match our daily clinical struggles... "Walking in Dysphagia Wonderland" is one that comes to mind.
Joined: September 15, 2004
It is a necessary part of the work day for me. I have always been a bit laid back and have found over the years that a good sense of humor and humility is sometimes good medicine for me and the patient. Many of our patients are going through a stressful time and enjoy coming for treatment.