blogpost 09072016

Healthcare Employee Engagement, Stay Interviews, and Retention: Podcast

dick finnegan podcast

HealthStream’s Second Opinions Podcast series features industry experts and leaders and their take on issues impacting healthcare today and tomorrow.

Our second installment is an interview with employee engagement expert Dick Finnegan, the CEO of Decision Analytics and author of The Power of Stay Interviews. He shares his personal insights about ways to hold on to your best healthcare employees and also why healthcare organizations often miss the mark when setting and understanding goals for staff satisfaction.

Below is a short edited excerpt from the recording with HealthStream’s Brad Weeks, our host:


Chances are the majority of healthcare leaders in our audience have read at least one book on recognition or how to say thank you, either in a professional or personal context. There are books on thousands of ways to say thank you. Some would say this is the most important skill to improve engagement. What say you on that topic?

Dick Finnegan:

I would tell you it’s a good skill but it’s not the most important. The most important one is to build trust. If you think about the best boss you ever had and the worst boss you ever had, you would say you trusted the best boss and you distrusted the worst boss. I’ll bet you your best boss had shortcomings. He or she couldn’t speak in front of groups, couldn’t spell, and couldn’t show up on time; there were shortcomings but you didn’t care because this person had crossed over the barbed wire fence to where you trusted him or her. Now, they were in such a haloed space that it was so easy to forgive them for shortcomings. They were almost cute when they screwed something up. But your worst boss had crossed the other way. Your worst boss had strengths, your worst boss had things he or she could do well, but you were blind to those strengths. Once you cross over to breaking trust, you’re a jerk boss. A jerk boss is someone who breaks trust. Once you are a jerk boss, it’s very hard to go back.

I’m a therapist by training, and I can tell you that human relationships have been primarily on two variables: trust and self-esteem. You stick with people who are looking out for you, and you stick with people who make you feel good about being you. Think about the best relationships in your life, it’s always those two criteria. When one or two of those break, bad things happen.


Tell us in your experience, what’s the role of the healthcare executive in improving or shaking up employee engagement?

Dick Finnegan:

First of all, if we acknowledge that engagement happens at the bottom of organizations not the top, then the best thing CEOs can do is put the right managers and supervisors in the right chairs. When I say at the bottom, I don’t mean the lowest level, I mean one step down from every manager. CEOs can really only engage their direct reports. They have to make sure all the chairs are right.

The second thing is to hold the people in those chairs accountable, so the more of those managers and supervisors who have their own score the better because there’s got to be a true engagement goal and they need to learn how to meet it.

Listen to the podcast here.

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