At KaiNexus, we strongly believe that the first step in improvement is getting people to speak up. That means making it safe for everybody to speak up. Our customers demonstrate this all of the time - that helping people speak up (and then responding and working with them) leads to a better workplace and great results.
But, if people are not speaking up, we need to do more than just lecture them or blame them for not speaking up. Leaders should ask “Why are they not speaking up?” and “What can we do to make it safer for them to speak up?”
I love this video from Bronson Healthcare, titled “Speak Up for Safety.”
What’s great about the video?
- It’s the CEO taking responsibility for a culture of safety by speaking directly to staff in the video, rather than delegating this to a lower level leader.
- He asks people to speak up to improve safety even if they just suspect there is a problem (this is an important characteristic of a Lean culture or a High Reliability Organization). Sometimes, you’re going to speak up and you’re going to be wrong… there wasn’t really a problem, but great organizations don’t punish people for speaking up and erring on the side of safety.
- The chief nursing officer emphasizes how they depend on front line staff to identify ways they can improve safety and do better. Even with great leaders in place, leaders can’t identify and solve every safety problem themselves. We have to get everybody involved. “We need you,” says another leader later in the video.
- A different chief nursing officer emphasizes that nobody’s perfect and that we all make mistakes. Truth.
- They emphasize the need to take quick action when a problem is pointed out, to help protect the patient.
- They involve patients of all ages, who say “Speak up for me.” That’s a compelling “why” statement. Even in environments where staff might fear speaking up, hopefully the fear that a patient could be harmed trumps one’s fear of getting punished. As they say in the video, it takes "courage" to speak up for patient safety.
It takes courage to speak up
for patient safety.
Safety is everybody’s job, but it requires leadership. And we thank Bronson for sharing their leadership on YouTube for others to see and be inspired by!
Speaking up is an important first step. After that, it’s important for leaders to help everybody act on their ideas, resolve them, and provide recognition. That’s what will keep people speaking up over time.