By Cat Harrison
We can all be guilty of “performing” at work, acting the part, putting on our ‘game face’ and fending off imposter syndrome. So when I was shown complete acceptance and respect by my NHS colleagues at Sign up to Safety, it felt like the real thing, and I realised what a difference it makes when you can be yourself and open up about who you are or how you feel on any given day.
Through our thoughtful approach to how we work with each other, role modelled by the leader of the team Suzette Woodward, I’ve experienced for myself what happens when you can relax and know that it’s ok to be a human being today. I found it freed me up to stop wasting time thinking about things that don’t really make a difference to what I’m employed to accomplish.
Instead, that energy and effort has flowed outward, to focus on those whose experiences can really shape what I think and what we may do on a national level, rather than inward, naval gazing. I had more energy and concentration to spare to go into thinking more deeply on how we can help people in wards and GP surgeries across the country work safely. Suddenly there was more head space and courage to break the mould and be creative.
I felt this most strongly when I returned from maternity leave, feeling natural anxiety that I would be viewed differently or that I would have less to contribute. Instead, I was welcomed back, given hugs and a bunch of flowers and repeatedly reassured that my return mattered; that my thoughts and ideas made a difference (however addled from lack of sleep).
My team mates not only thought about what I needed to hear to do my best, but also showed an interest in and complete acceptance of my new life, whilst not pretending it was my old life. Even sneaking a picture of my daughter and I into an artist-drawn montage of the team included in a capture of important points at Patient First conference, an event that I helped prepare our contribution to, but missed while I was on leave. It’s something that still makes me smile nearly two years later. Their compassion and kindness has helped me navigate a huge change in my life and helped me gain a balance that I feared wouldn’t be possible.
About the author;
Cat Harrison is the communications and engagement lead for the Sign up to Safety team, and has advised numerous FTSE100 companies as well as national charities and health-related organisations. Her expertise lies in the development of impactful campaigns, the importance of language and tone in connecting with people, and engagement approaches that motivate and excite people to take action to make care safer. She tweets @catharrison4