"You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town . . ."
Don't you wish we were as beloved in our behavioral healthcare leadership as Santa Claus is for Christmas? Maybe you'll answer that Santa Claus is fantasy, and we are real. And reality is harder. Yet, perhaps if we study what Santa Claus does, we can emulate some of it.
If our reference is the song "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” we know that we better not complain about all the problems we face in behavioral healthcare: inadequate funding, stressful work and stigma, among them. Complaining does little. It’s action that gets the good work done.
What does making a list of naughty and nice mean for behavioral healthcare? Can it be translated to following ethical standards (nice) or not (naughty)? How do we monitor whether and how well administrators, clinicians, and staff follow professional ethical standards? In our context, being bad or good is not only a moral reference, but can refer to outcomes, specifically how good we are in helping patients. You’ll want to be good and stay on the nice list.
Of course, organizational leadership may not be able to see staff when they’re sleeping or know when they’re awake, but surely can see if staff is asleep on the job. That might include going through the motions instead of learning new knowledge or developing new skills. You might need to wake them up with some staff engagement activities or a learning tool before the new year begins.
You’ve probably noticed in the song that the last verse contains the added emphasis of "O!" and the repeat of the last line. So, this tells us that Santa means business.
Now, despite all the warnings, Santa always brings presents and rewards. Just what behavioral healthcare needs.
Does “Santa” visit your organization and bring the "gifts" of good outcomes to patients and good clinical protocol to staff? If not, the administrators and leaders can pretend to be Santa, can't we?