When you hear the term HRO or high reliability organization, what comes to mind?
Do you envision an organization operating as a precise machine, executing flawlessly? Do you think of well-defined systems and robust process improvement driving error-free outcomes?
Do human interactions come to mind? Do you think of mindful individuals ever aware of their organizational systems’ flaws, comfortable reporting errors, and speaking up to discuss gaps in knowledge and safety concerns?
The thing that distinguishes HROs from their less reliable counterparts has more to do with human interactions than processes and systems. Reliability thrives when staff feel safe to take interpersonal risk.
HROs emerge because co-workers are willing to put safety first even if it means enduring personal vulnerability. In high reliability cultures, staff brave interpersonal risks such as admitting mistakes, acknowledging their lack of knowledge, challenging a colleague, or raising a concern.
Leaders play a critical role in developing cultures that promote this type of transparency. Interpersonal risk taking is the key to interactions that promote in the moment learning and adapting to identify and avoid mistakes.
When staff feel safe to take interpersonal risks, individuals process information collectively as events unfold and respond quickly to avoid error. Learning in the moment enables team members to recognize potential problems and avoid disastrous outcomes. Teammates’ willingness to take interpersonal risks increases reliability and decreases the organization’s risk of error.
WHAT ARE INTERPERSONAL RISKS AND HOW DO THEY IMPROVE PATIENT SAFETY?
Interpersonal risks are things like admitting a gap in knowledge, challenging an accepted process, voicing concerns, pointing out others’ mistakes, or self-reporting. Taking interpersonal risks requires vulnerability. Individuals avoid taking these types of risks if they do not feel safe to do so.
Shifting the focus from self-preservation to collective performance is a game changer. Feeling safe to take interpersonal risks moves the focus from self-preservation to patient safety and exceptional performance. Teams that feel safe to take risks with one another are able to perform at their best, enhancing patient safety and clinical outcomes.
WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY?
Psychological safety is a shared belief among team members that individuals can be transparent and vulnerable without fear of adverse consequences. Amy Edmonson, who was the first to define psychological safety, did so by observing teams in hospitals. Much to her surprise, the highest performing teams reported the greatest number of mistakes. They felt safe discussing error and were able to learn from their mistakes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhoLuui9gX8&list...
HOW CAN LEADERS CREATE PSYCHOLOGICALLY SAFE WORK ENVIRONMENTS?
Leaders play a critical role in establishing work environments that value transparency and foster psychological safety. Ethical leadership offers an evidence-based approach to leadership practices that promote trust and learning behaviors essential to patient safety and organizational performance. Through well-defined practices, leaders align daily work to organizational values, communicate clear expectations, and role model effective learning behaviors. To learn more about ethical leadership’s connection to patient safety visit www.interactivequality.net or access this white paper to learn more at www.interactivequality.net/resources