Thursday, July 12, 2012

Eat That Cookie! by Liz Jazwiec

Jazwiec, LizEat That Cookie!  Gulf Breeze, FL: Fire Starter, 2009.

Liz Jazwiec is a former hospital emergency department director and current consultant and speaker.  In her book, Eat That Cookie!, she draws upon her experience in creating a positive workplace to show the benefits of positivity and how it can be created.

Jazwiec was a hardnosed nurse who didn’t have time for fluff.  Her job was hard.  Her hospital was in a rough and poor neighborhood.  Oh, and some people are just stupid.  She was skeptical of the positivity movement in her hospital and she only go on board because of the unsubtle threat of consequences if she didn’t.  Slapping on a smile and being nice to people wasn’t going to make things better.

Except it does.  Kindness, even if it is fake, makes people feel better.  Expressions of
gratitude grow goodwill.  Letting go of judgment also means letting go of a lot of frustration.  Fun and productivity can coexist, even thrive together.  Celebration is important; you need to recognize achievement if you want to keep getting it from people.

Each chapter touches on a subject related to positive workplaces and how it helps make workplaces more productive.  The book is full of examples, some from Jazwiec’s work as an emergency department director and some from clients or other hospitals.  The title come from the example of a hospital unit that instituted a weekly no negativity day, with smiley face cookies served to staff that day as a reminder.

Cookies may sound silly.  Sometimes the silliness is intentional.  It is a reminder, and remembering  and keeping people accountable is an important part of a positive workplace.  Positive workplaces are made and sustained through effort and consistent, reinforced behaviors.  Jazwiec is practical-minded in this regard.  Positive workplaces don’t just happen.

To that end, the book contains a lot of advice.  Leadership needs to provide accountability, fairness, and a focus on behavior.  Don’t overwhelm people with changes.  Institute three or four changes a year, and make sure you have a high level of compliance before introducing something new.

As a consultant to hospitals, Jazwiec focuses on them.  Almost any workplace could benefit from positivity in the same ways, though.  Her examples could easily be adapted to other organizations.

In fact, much of what Jazwiec writes about is simple.  As I often say, “If simple were easy, more things would be simple.”  A workplace won’t become more positive overnight just because you feed people smiley face cookies.  It takes time, clear expectations, accountability, consistency, and successive changes, especially if negativity is engrained.  Jazwiec’s little book may help you get started.

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