Sterile Processing leadership has a full plate even on a slow day, but one thing that all leaders have in common is that they want a happy and thriving team. One that feels seen, heard, and valued.
What better time to discuss SP being valued than during SP Week? We want to take a step back from clinical speak this week and walk you through five key considerations to help your staff and leadership feel like they can open up, bring all feedback to the table, and speak up to find solutions to the challenges we face. We want to help you and your department create a positive culture of open communication.
1. Get Transparent
Sharing objectives and key results (OKRs) with your team can help give the team a new perspective and a renewed sense of purpose. While providing routine business updates fosters transparency, going one step further by sharing objectives and key results (OKRs) keeps everyone aligned and focused on the same outcome while promoting openness.
2. Open Your Door and Be Open to New Ideas
Having an open-door policy can go a long way, or even having open-door hours where your team knows that they can come to its managers with departmental concerns leaves room for new conversations, However, be prepared that if you come to the table with concerns or complaints, you should come armed equally with solutions to the problems and ideas for improvement. Consider implementing an anonymous box in your department. A place where technicians can place any and all concerns in the box. By implementing this idea into reality, you can have multiple unaddressed concerns come to light rather than setting up your department leaders for failure. Or, worst case, ending up with a team of disgruntled staff that never expresses concerns,
3. Create Round-Robin Conversations
Another great way to have and cultivate conversations is to have monthly round-robin conversations with alternating hosts. For example, the first month could be hosted by the SP Director, who brings up the topic of sharps being left on power equipment when coming into decontamination. The director of surgery, human resources officer, infection prevention, safety officer, and scrub technician might be good decision-makers to have as part of the round-robin. This will not only shed light for decision-makers who had no idea it was an issue, but it can start a new conversation with different perspectives and suggestions that may otherwise be missed. The following month, maybe infection prevention hosts the conversation and brings the operating room’s statistics for surgical site infections to the table. The team present could discuss areas where the misses are and address some solutions they can collaboratively address as a group.
These conversations open up a new level of respect for each other’s roles and create solutions that may be impossible without the talks.
4. Close the Loop
When issues or safety concerns are brought to management’s attention, it’s incredible how far a “thank you” can go. This lets them know you appreciate their willingness to be open and transparent with their views and encourages them to share again. Once you’ve received these concerns, closing the feedback loop is imperative. If you’ve determined the next steps, tell the team member what those are, and close the loop with those who provided the original feedback.
5. Lead by Example
Lastly, if you are in a leadership role, it’s critical that you candidly share how you turned their feedback into actions. You admit to areas where maybe you could have done better by the team, and you ask for honest criticism from your team on how you’re doing. This shows your team that you are human, too, and that you value their feedback on how you’re doing as a leader.
The safety of your team and, ultimately, the patient comes down to how well issues are articulated and how well they are resolved internally. The next time you have a concern, speak up because the safety of more than just you may be at stake. It’s a group effort to cultivate and create this culture, not a project that can be taken on alone.
To each Sterile Processing leader working hard to keep our patients safe, we thank you. Your dedication is admirable, and we hope these ideas can help you improve so that you can continue serving at the highest level possible.
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