Cynthia Brouk, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at GVMH, shared a book with me. The book is “Eat That Cookie!” by Liz Jazwiec. You might think a book titled “Eat That Cookie!” shared by our Food and Nutrition Services Director would be about baking but it’s not, instead it’s about creating a positive workforce.
Chapter 8 of the book resonated with me because it focuses on managing morale. In other books I’ve read on morale the focus is on leadership and how leadership can control morale. In Liz’s book the focus is on individual responsibility and maintaining our own positive attitudes.
I know some of you may be thinking “Well that’s an easy out for Craig and administration, asking me to control my own morale” – so let me explain.
In the fourteen years I’ve worked in the hospital setting I’ve never heard anyone say “Wow, morale is great!” but I’ve heard things like “Morale stinks”, “Morale is at an all time low” and “Morale is falling” more times than I can count.
If morale is low aren’t we all partially to blame. I don’t believe morale is the job of the boss, afterall aren’t we all responsible for our own attitudes. It is the responsibility of the organization to create a culture to help people manage their own morale and more importantly it’s up to leaders to hold people accountable for their morale.
Health care is hard work and it gets harder each day but isn’t it amazing how those we work with affect our day and our mood. Let me give you two examples to make my point.
Example 1: Census is high or your schedule is overbooked and you are working with Negative Nancy. Nancy is always in a bad mood, Nancy always complains and Nancy tends to direct the mood of the entire department.
Example 2: Census is high or your schedule is overbooked and you are working with Happy Helen. Helen smiles, Helen calls you by name, Helen is calm, Helen asks if she can help, Helen is happy and Helen makes you feel better.
The situation with patient load is the same in each example but which day do you believe goes better…without a doubt it’s the day you work with Helen.
Think about it, the same is true in our personal life. Does your spouse ever come home in a bad mood at the end of the day. If so, pay attention to how the entire mood of the home changes once he or she arrives. Have you ever walked into a party or social event looked across the room and said to yourself “Oh no, I can’t believe so-and-so is here, I can’t stand that person”. Is the party going to be fun? Maybe, but not nearly as fun as it would be if so-and-so weren’t there.
To me the problem is we are too accepting of negativity. Why should we let others control our mood and determine the type of day we will have. Would we let these people tell us what to eat for lunch or when to go to the restroom? Of course not! Then why do we let them control our mood which affects our health and wellbeing just as much, if not more, than when we eat or go to the restroom.
Being in a good mood isn’t hard, most people show up to work every day in a good mood but miserable, negative people can bring down the ship a lot quicker than those in a good mood can get on the life raft.
So what’s the answer you say, the answer is to not allow negative people bring you down. We’ve all seen it, the negative person walks into the room and says “This place is crazy” or “Today’s going to be horrible” and our natural reaction is to pacify them with something like “You’re right” or “You can say that again”.
When we agree with them all we are doing is reinforcing their bad attitude.
Here’s my challenge to you, next time you are working with a negative person and you hear a comment you don’t appreciate – just ignore them. Let their comments fall on deaf ears that way they can’t misinterpret your response as positive reinforcement. If you really want to have fun with the negative person respond with “I think today is going to be a great day” then smile and walk away!
I will do a better job holding people accountable to their mood. I will begin thanking those in a good mood and asking those in a bad mood to keep it to themselves!