A couple of years ago I attended several days of training with the Disney Business Institute. I thoroughly enjoyed much of what was shared in the DBI and often find myself thinking back to one thing or another I heard there.
On one of the days I spent with them we learned a lot about how they, as an organization, cultivate a service culture across the enterprise. While your level of fan-dom for all things Disney may vary, we can all agree that they are world-renowned for customer service.
One way they stay service-minded is by continually talking about the needs, wants, emotions, and stereotypes of their guests. These are several factors that define “who” their guests are when they walk through the door at a Disney themepark. Of all the things I heard that day this angle in particular stood out to me because of how applicable it is to healthcare settings. And since the DBI trainers encouraged us to find ways to explore these dynamics in our professional environments I wrote up a brief staff development activity based on the Needs-Wants-Emotions-Stereotypes model they shared.
I used this activity in a variety of settings and in every instance it led to an easy but powerful dialogue about all the forces at work on patients. I’ve decided to publish it here for your own use.
The activity, which can be done in as little as 20 minutes, asks personnel to brainstorm and list all the needs, wants, emotions, and stereotypes patients face. Participants use their own experiences to define each, then recount effective service behaviors they did (or did not) experience in all four areas. Participants then return to the provider perspective by using the lists they made to collectively outline who “our” patient is and what “we” can do to meet them where they are at. An optional activity is included which has participants construct an individualized action plan for behavior change and partner with a colleague for implementation. By revisiting their experiences as patients, staff are quickly reminded of what it “feels like” to be a patient. By identifying associated service behaviors, participants assign value to them, increasing the likelihood that they will appear in patient interactions.
This activity is a tool for physicians, directors, managers, or chief clinical officers regularly looking for diverse ways to continue cultivating empathy. And by taking the added step of defining behaviors, it lends itself to performance improvement after-the-fact.
The activity can be done as part of a staff meeting, retreat, team huddle, or professional development exercise. A PDF of the facilitation guide can be downloaded by clicking here: N-W-E-S Patient-Care Activity.
My only request is that if you use this activity, you come back here and tell me about it. How did it go? Was it useful? What kind of group did you use it with and what was their reaction? Share using the comments box below. Enjoy! ~Joe