You want culture change? Stop complaining

James M. Berklan
James M. Berklan

Things have been kind of tough lately, haven't they? And they're probably going to get tougher, right? If you have thought or possibly mouthed those words yourself, stop. Just stop. Quit your complaining ... for one day at least.

You might recall that it was just about this time last year when I wrote about a brand new movement, the “No Complaints Day Challenge.” Well, it's here again — next Wednesday, Aug. 12 —  and bigger than ever. 

It needs you and, in all likelihood, you need it.

If you're a complainer — and odds are you are (hey, we ALL are) — this is for you. Even if you consider yourself just a sometimes-complainer.

To refresh memories, the “No Complaints Day Challenge” is the brainchild of Joe Kirin, a Chicago man whose mother died last year after a painful struggle with chronic disease. Throughout, she was known for not complaining.

So if a dying woman can conduct herself with such grace, the question becomes shouldn't we all be able to? Or at least try to?

That's the key for Kirin, a virtuoso folk musician who has seen this movement spread to a handful of continents and thousands of participants. Last year, more than 5,000 people took part, and that was just with a few weeks' word of mouth. This year, the pace is higher, yet the word is really just starting to get around. That's where we all can come into play.

To take part, one just needs to click here to get to the “No Complaints Day Challenge” web page. Then it's just a jump to its Facebook page to "join" the event. There is no fee, no obligation (you can simply ignore the proffer to join a mailing list) and you don't need to be any place in particular to do it. As a Boy Scout would tell you: Just do your best. And as Kirin notes, if you flub, pick yourself up and start again.

Other healthcare providers already are on board this year, and they're doing it as a way to improve their workplace. The Chicago Health Medical Group, which includes a handful of hospitals and at least a dozen care centers in and around Chicago, is pursuing the “No Complaints” challenge with gusto. Some 500 employees are taking part, and they're going to do it for more than just one day.

After all, how do you measure outcomes if you don't have more than one measuring point? Call it another kind of quality indicator.

By checking at monthly intervals, there will be some valuable introspection going on. Did complaints lessen? Were issues formerly complained about resolved? What positive things took place instead of whining, moaning and groaning?

“They see it as a positive way to improve the workplace, for people in it and around it,” Kirin told me about the Chicago medical group. “The beauty of it is, when you take it [complaining] off the table, something else becomes available. I think that's what many people miss.”

Refocusing how we approach our work, and each other, would be nothing less than transformational.

“I do believe this has legs,” Kirin said. He grew more excited the more he spoke about the movement he created. It has spurred TV interviews, social media campaigns and attention from outlets like the Huffington Post.

“My idea is to create some culture change with how we relate to complaints,” he says.

Culture change? Now that's something long-term care providers can identify with.

Bring it on.

Aug. 12 — you can sign up now, and spread the challenge to others. Check out the “No Complaints Day Challenge” on Twitter at #NoComplaints and #NCDC.

James M. Berklan is Editor at McKnight's. Follow him @JimBerklan.




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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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