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What does kindness mean to you

Charan Sarai, Training Delivery Manager for Thornfields and ILM Centre Manager for FPM is back to continue her discussion on the topic of kindness in the workplace.  You may remember her posts from last year, sharing the importance of showing kindness.  She has recently been involved in the Mindful Insights Series, and here she shares her thoughts on how we can all get involved in helping to support colleagues who may just need a helping hand, a kind or encouraging word, or some practical support.

Let’s acknowledge our staff for the work they do

How do you do that?  It’s tough on the front line - though having said that, it’s tough in general.  How do you promote a positive culture to help you in your practice? I have often listened as my learners share their experiences about how drained they feel after a shift at the practice.  When I probed a little further and asked, “how do you get through the day”? the comments were remarkable.  It was the little things that helped them get through the day. Before we look at what those little things may be, let’s talk about creating a positive culture within the practice.

It’s all about the Culture!

Yes, it is - what you foster in your environment counts.  We know that strong leadership can help to bring about the change, but you must demonstrate behaviours within your practices, because employees need to see it happen and understand clearly what’s expected from them.

Communication is key. Many studies indicate that positive/kind culture can lead to increased engagement, job satisfaction and great outcomes.  Attitudes need to change without doubt. You simply cannot have patients shouting and abusing your staff and not do anything about it.  Establish policies and use them.  ‘Zero tolerance’ has been about forever, but is it used? I am being informed NO!

If respecting each other is a key value in your organisation, then it’s an investment - whatever we give to others is returned to us with profit. Think about how amazing that would be.

We need staff forums that make a difference. Talk about the cultural change you want to bring into the practice and make the change happen. Think about these quotes from Ghandi:

'Be the change you want to see in the world.’

‘Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words.  Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.’

Start with

The Purpose

Define it and share it, come together to own it.

Next - what values do you hold alongside the purpose?

We all know that we must work alongside each other to get things done. So, can your behaviour demonstrate the purpose through creativity, kindness and genuine support? Make up that poster that talks about your practice values and clearly states what’s expected. You may have something in place, but is it time to replace it?  Have some real values in there and live/share them with each other.

Patients sometimes need to be reminded of them too. Staff need to be valued and cared for, and if it’s a behaviour which touches them that does it, so be it. We all need kindness demonstrated to us at times. Support for each other is the key, we all need it and need to see it happening around us too.

Take care when hiring

After all, it’s a large expense, so a carefully planned recruitment process is needed.  Ask yourself, “will this person fit with the purpose and values of our practice?”

Open the lines of communication

  • Meet regularly, share openly.
  • Have a different member of the team share when you meet.
  • Feedback is key, whether it’s good or not so good.
  • Take time to take suggestions for a better way to work.
  • Learn from each other.
  • Always end your meeting with a positive - after all, appreciation is what’s needed.
  • Reward and recognise where you can, it’s important.
  • Don’t leave anyone out; One Team, One Goal is our ethos.

Oh! The little things…

These are so very important. Kindness means the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

Studies have shown that nearly 79% of people report feeling low/stressed during their workdays. This doesn’t help us and certainly makes our days less productive and less effective. I believe one of the more encouraging ways to lessen this is by showing kindness. Creating this culture doesn’t eat away at our finances or need major strategy meetings to get off the ground.

Remember the quote by Robert Ingersoll: “We rise by lifting others.”

It’s simple; recognise the wonder of each person. We all have different talents and gifts.

Appreciation is key

Once we start showing appreciation and kindness, it becomes contagious. Maybe you could show it through some of the following little things:

 

Staff sometimes dread coming into work because they are fearful of what the shift will bring.  Maybe all the appointments have been taken up and there is nothing left to give out.  Maybe the calls are stacking up and there’s a constant barrage of abuse about how long a patient has been waiting. Or maybe you’re just struggling, and it would be great if you could ask for help - or better still, if help is offered.

Research into kindness in the workplace has been going on since at least the 1990s. Apparently it’s a science, but I think it’s a super power. But you must choose to do it - the decision lies with you.

Acknowledging the good in people is important. Encouraging one another is vital, whether that’s through compassion, gratitude and sharing positivity through the day, or just simply being there for them.

Sometimes it’s about just giving people space; perhaps taking a little longer with a colleague, just checking in with them to make sure they are OK; holding a door open; helping someone carry something, or helping to re-stock items without being asked etc; leaving Post-It notes on a screen saying ‘Well done! Great results’, or bringing cakes in, to show appreciation for the work done that week.

I knew a GP who would bring in a homemade apple pie every Friday afternoon. The timing was perfect; the jobs had been done and then we had a short break with coffee and pie.  Certainly, he knew the qualities of being generous and considerate.

Genuinely caring about your colleagues, making sure you understand them and acknowledging it’s OK from time to time to have an off-day, is important. After all, we all do sometimes, don’t we! Sometimes these off-days can manifest into health issues - the headaches, the backaches and so on, which in turn can affect the organisation through absenteeism and work piling up.

I mentioned earlier that kindness is contagious - it’s certainly the driver for me, I love to experience it and share it.  The look on the recipient’s face is amazing, it’s like appreciation has hit home and they feel welcomed and encouraged. The hope is always that they are inspired to share and pass on. So how do you do it?

Start infusing more kindness into your practice

 

  • Create a Kindness Champion – the one who knows everyone’s birthdays and can set up a card to be signed by all.
  • Be aware of colleagues that have gone above and beyond and recognise them for the work done.
  • Likewise, if a colleague struggles, help them with support and some suggestions/solutions.
  • Recognise colleagues for their contributions/strengths with given tasks. Recognise them publicly for a great boost for morale.
  • All feedback should be done kindly, with the emphasis of leaving the colleague in a good place, perhaps inspired, reflective and of course engaged.
  • Help build a culture that builds confidence, improves effectiveness and strengthens performance.
  • Always aim to celebrate the successes both corporately and individually.
  • When things go well, say so and reward by positive affirmations.
  • Carry out your feedback with respect and be intentional, focus on the behaviours and not the colleague’s character.
  • Be thoughtful and kind. Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor says it all; if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Her main points refer to colleagues’ weaknesses, which should be discussed on a one-to-one basis to find a solution. This shows how much you care about that person. Communication again is the key and positive affirmations, which are constructive and helpful.
  • When you see kindness, say you’ve seen it. “Thank you, that’s such a kind thing to do.”
  • No matter what rank you may be, always start with a compliment in your email.
  • Smile and greet people.
  • Make sure you carry out your intro meetings when someone new joins the practice - it helps to make them welcome.

There are many ways to show kindness, but you must act on it.  You will be surprised how much it will help. After all, words without actions are just words. In the words of Jackie Chan, “Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.”

I hope to be back soon, looking at resilience-based approaches to wellbeing.

Be kind,

Charan Sarai 

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