By Mary Griffin Strom, MSN, RN, Consultant, Creative Healthcare Management
Here’s an issue that managers across the health care spectrum deal with all the time:
Today is the monthly leadership meeting for our organization. The agenda was posted yesterday and includes a review of the following items:
The meeting is scheduled to be two hours long. As a manager of a patient care department, I hope there are copies of these reports so that I can accurately reflect this information in my staff meetings, which I schedule for the week after the monthly leadership meeting. My staff meetings are only one hour long, so I will really have to truncate the information into smaller parts so that I can cover each topic.
OK, I don’t know about you, but I do not find anything inspiring or engaging in that long list of agenda items or the thought of mashing all of that information down and telling it to my staff.
Staff Meetings Should Be Motivating and Engaging
As a leader of the front line staff members who are the closest to our core business, (i.e. delivering care and service to our patients/families in acute care, emergency departments, ambulatory care facilities, and clinics) I wonder about the relevancy of all this information/data. I wonder what type of staff meetings our staff members are hoping for. I must pause and ask myself, “If I were them, what would motivate me to attend a staff meeting and what types of agendas would be engaging?”
Patient care providers at the point of care delivery want to discuss what it takes to come to work every day and give what is needed to make a difference in patients’ lives, not just in their clinical outcomes, but also in their quality of life outcomes. They want to know that what they do every day has made a difference for someone, and it would be really nice to know that someone in a leadership position knows it and cares enough to provide time and space for dialogue about what really matters. That would motivate me to come to staff meeting, and to be engaged and participative versus a passive receiver of data/information, which I will probably forget once I leave the meeting.
Leaders' Responsibilities for Staff Meetings
I would like to come together with my peers, in an uninterrupted time, when I am not trying to be at a meeting and attend to patients, to dialogue about my work environment, teamwork, and patient outcomes that matter to my clinical arena. I would like my leader to demonstrate caring, compassion, appreciation, and gratitude for all the hard work we do, and to listen more than speak. This is caring leadership at its best: for the leader to be the follower, and for the leader to recognize that the staff know best how to create positive work environments, make a difference in patient/family acceptance of the treatment plan, and adhere to best practice. This type of care is provided “in the moment,” not when someone in quality examines the data, creates the graphs, and reports the results.
Caring Leaders Create a Compassionate Environment
If we want our front line leaders to lead like this, then our directors and executives need to model the way. Caring leaders create an environment of caring and compassion, and inspire folks to use their talents and gifts in an organization that is fueled by their energy, enthusiasm, and passion for the work. Caring leaders must be found at the very top of our organizations in order for leaders at all levels to know that this style of leading is what is most effective and engaging to our employees. I believe we can do both, provide data and information that is necessary to the business we need to address, AND inspire and engage all employees to know that our core business is taking care of patients/families who are suffering, hurt, in pain, and come to us for needed care and attention. We must treat their whole body/mind/spirit in order to provide healing care, and for that work, we need our hearts firmly connected to our heads.
Until we can capture and inspire peoples’ hearts, we will never engage their heads in the work of our business. Emphasis on outcomes, scorecards, and results, must be preceded by emphasis on caring, compassion, connection—in short, our core business. Then we have established a culture that supports staff members who know best how to reach outcomes. Just ask them, and listen to their response, and follow their lead.
Throughout her career, both as a nurse at the point of care and as an administrator, Mary has seldom used the word “patient” without the word “family” following right behind it. Currently, Mary is a consultant at Creative Health Care Management, where she partners with health care organizations on team building, patient safety and quality, leadership development at all levels, physician engagement, and patient experience. Mary can be contacted at email@example.com
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