How to Improve ANY Part of your Healthcare Team’s Performance

String-around-fingerThink back to your first week at your current job. Did you go through an orientation program? Did your new boss go over information and materials with you? Did you shadow someone who reviewed processes and procedures or do’s and don’ts?

How much of that information can you actively recall? Repeat?

Not much, I’d wager.

Turns out that even the most dedicated, educated, focused among us are limited in our capacity to retain information. Your healthcare team is no different. While dealing with the countless tasks, challenges, and responsibilities of each day, they focus primarily on what is directly in front of them and rely on knowledge and habits that have been ingrained over time. They are, after all, human. This is why leaders who want teams to reach and maintain a high level of performance find creative ways to reinforce new or desired behavior over and over again. These ever-changing refreshers dot the landscape of the workplace and are encountered repeatedly by employees.

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Don’t Aspire to a Stress-Free Workplace

zen nurseI recently came across this Huffington Post article on ways to boost employee engagement. While most of the author’s recommendations are grounded in established research, one in particular made me do a double-take.

#4 Eliminate Stress. Impossible deadlines or excessive workloads will erode job satisfaction for even the most dedicated team members…Strive to create a stress-free environment by setting realistic deadlines and keeping projects manageable.

I’ve been training physicians and managers in healthcare for years. If I stood in front of an audience and told them that to achieve engagement they needed to eliminate stress for their employees, I’d get laughed out of the room. Recommendations like this are what cause leaders at all levels to view engagement as nothing more than an unachievable ideal. Continue reading

Who’s the Boss?

CCL coverThe following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Cure for the Common Leader: What Physicians & Managers Must Do to Engage and Inspire Healthcare Teams, scheduled for release on November 1.

Ask your front desk person who is in charge of the practice overall. What will she say? Ask her who her boss is. Does she give the same answer?

In many healthcare settings employees interact with two levels of supervisory authority: the operational leaders charged with their day-to-day supervision, and physicians. The office manager, unit director, nurse coordinator, or practice manager oversees the day-to-day operations of the site and the duties of team members. These managers often hire, train, and supervise the employee. They coordinate the employee’s schedule, answer their questions, and serve as the primary liaison between employee and employer. Physicians, on the other hand, possess a different kind of power. Continue reading

Employee Engagement: You Better Recognize!

Thank You !In its 2013 State of the American Workforce report Gallup states that employee engagement- the degree to which an employee is engaged in and enthusiastic about their work and thus acts in a way that furthers organizational interests- increases when managers focus on employee strengths.  A strengths-based management approach means that front-line managers maximize employees’ chances to use their strengths every day. They have daily interactions with employees to empower them and help them discover and develop their talents.

Employee recognition is a key component of strengths based management. This isn’t a reference to formal recognition programs or automated prizes. Giving employees a plant or a shiny pen on their 5 year anniversary doesn’t communicate worth.  At its core employee recognition has to be about communicating VALUE. Continue reading