Ways to create psychological safety in your care group.
In a meeting of clinical staff and supervisors, an MD makes an observation about a potentially unsafe practice and suggests how to prevent it in future.
The meeting moves on - as if no one heard the comment. A few minutes later a white male MD makes the same comment. The group discusses it and decides the next step.
The original contributor is a Latinx woman physician. She says nothing else after her initial comment.
No one mentions what happened.
What - if anything - can you do? What would you like to happen here?
You wonder what the Latina clinician thinks and feels about it. You’re worried that she feels ignored. She may not risk speaking again.
Here one person in the group insulted and humiliated another. This sends a strong signal to everyone lower in the pecking order. If the situation above goes without response, others who feel “lesser” in the group may stay silent to protect themselves from those with higher perceived rank or privilege.
But you need them to speak up so you get critical information for safe care.
Arrange a confidential one-to-one conversation with the Latinx woman MD to attend to and welcome the mistreated person back into your care group
You might say: ‘I’ve thought about your contribution at our meeting today. Can we find some time to talk?’
1. A: ASK: Ask focused questions that invite her to talk. Your attention shows you saw the aggression. Your tone communicates you truly want her to feel comfortable contributing. [Avoid questions that can be answered with one word]
2. C: CREATE NEXT STEPS TOGETHER:
3. T: THANK HER:
You always act on two levels: the individual and the group.
For the group: Set the scene of norms and expectations and strengthen them with structures for the group’s future performance.
Set the stage for psychological safety for all whenever the care group gathers – meetings, pre-shift huddles, debriefs, etc.
Meetings are the most powerful place to change expectations and behaviors. Choose 1 or 2 below and bake them into meetings to produce inclusivity and safety from retribution or disrespect.
In the messy moment above:
There are countless ways to do this. Create something that works for your intentions and style.
Always look forward AT THE SAME TIME that you deal with the present moment. Always be constructing (ABC) the culture of psychological safety and belonging.
So you get critical care information. And your group creates safe quality care together.
Want to create psychological safety for your group before silence swallows something critical? Let’s talk: firstname.lastname@example.org