My Social Experience

Over the course of the last three months, I have had the opportunity to not only enhance my leadership skills, but to expand my exposure to other leaders and their expertise. As an MBA student at the University of Nevada, Reno, I began a new process into social media. This is so outside of my comfort zone, and while the experience has been overwhelming at times, I am so grateful that the new techniques and skills I have learned will only help me improve who and how I lead.

blogI started blogging about my capabilities as a leader. My blogs include true life experiences, and I have been able to share both successes and failures. While I have no claims as an expert on the subject, I can say that this process has increased my awareness of my strengths, as well as given me a good idea of where I need to improve. While my blog has been slow to growth and recognition, I am happy to say I have five followers who are not in my immediate family or friend circle. Each of these followers has provided feedback that have helped me to improve how and what I write. I am excited to continue this journey as a blogger!

In addition to my blog, I became a Twitter member. I can honestly say I had no idea why Twitter was so popular! As I became more familiar with tweeting, signaling, and following, I found there is a vast array of expertise on any subject matter, not just leadership. I have been able to locate and follow some highly credentialed and motivated leaders, and found new ideas and insights into improving how I lead. tweet

My blog and my Twitter experience have given me a far better understanding of the growth of social media, as well as the far-reaching impact my social footprint can have. I now understand that to participate in social media, I have a personal responsibility to provide information that is useful to others. And my expectations of those that I follow are that they provide value to me and my personal brand, and continue to aid me in my own growth and development.

I would love to hear about your social footprint; feel free to share!

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Community Involvement – Grow Your Leadership

For those who love and feel a calling for it, leading in the work place is both a privilege and a challenge. Administering that perfect balance of requirement, encouragement, and reward when working with your teams becomes a kind of dance. It ebbs and flows with the workload and expectations of the customer, and total customer satisfaction become the prize. But today I want to discuss another form of leadership that has to do with community involvement, which can provide an entirely different satisfaction not tied to career experience.

I have been the liaison for our Partner in Education, Dilworth Middle School, for the last two years. This partnership has been beneficial to both the school and the business I work for. Because of this success I was asked to join a task force to help grow Partners in Education throughout our community. It has been identified that when these business and school relationships work well, it enhances the learning process, provides external motivation for students, and aids in improving a sense of community. Many of the schools in our area benefit greatly from these partnerships, yet there is a large gap in where these relationships happen. Schools like those in the Damonte Ranch or Galena area have more business relationships than schools in the north valleys. There are a myriad of reasons why some schools gain more support than others, but the ultimate goal is to build relationships between businesses and schools in all areas.

The North Valleys have grown significantly in the past ten years, both in population and commercial business. There are nine schools in this area; six elementary, two middle, and one high school. Four of these schools are considered Title One schools, meaning that the schools serve a high population of lower-income families. This creates challenges in teaching, supporting, and providing additional services that can enhance the learning process and lead to long-term success. The focus of the task force is to build long-term, sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships between business partners and each school that directly support student achievement. educationResearch of successful partnerships show an increase in student test scores, increased engagement, and higher graduation rates. Businesses that invest time and resources into education within their sphere of influence help to demonstrate and build a sense of community.

While this task force is at the infancy stage, the members of the task force bring a wealth of backgrounds and experience. I learned quite a lot about our education system, and where resources are needed. The first meeting energized me, and I am excited to be a part of the process that will help to build these relationships. As the task force gains traction, I will be sharing our progress.

And of course, if you are interested in learning more about becoming a partner in education, feel free to let me know!

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What Are People Thinking?

I love being a leader, encouraging my staff to take the next step, to elevate their performance so they can gain higher job satisfaction and commitment. I have witnessed positive change in many of my staff members, and many of them are branching out, pursuing higher education or outside trainings that can improve their skills. But even when I think things are going perfectly, a member of my staff will do something that leaves me befuddled!

Healthcare has regulations for everything, and each of my teams knows what regulations they are required to follow. So imagine my surprise when I entered one of my departments and witnessed one of my staff breaking one of these rules. The infraction was really very small; it wouldn’t have caused harm, but could have posed a safety issue for either co-workers or customers. But the thing that surprised me the most was that this staff member was so ballsy to openly defy a basic practice right out in the open, for everyone to see. When she saw me, she was immediately contrite, knowing full well she was wrong. Yet instead of addressing the issue, she pretended that it didn’t happen. When I approached her, she tried to deflect to another subject. So I played along, we engaged in small talk. As the conversation was wrapping up, I confronted her on the infraction. She admitted that she was wrong, but didn’t demonstrate any remorse. I challenged her lack of concern, stating that her behavior posed a safety issue to her peers and our customers. She responded in a positive way, that she understood, but her attitude and body language told me she was not at all apologetic. I gave my directives to her about expectations of behavior, she consented to the directives, and we parted ways.

I realize that I am not alone in that I don’t like to reprimand staff; my preference is to encourage appropriate performance through positive interactions. That is not to say I am soft. I am a strong, outspoken individual, and when pushed will exert my will to gain the results I need. I really dislike being pushed to this point, and as I said, I was amazed that this staff member committed the infraction in the first place. It has been a few weeks since this incident occurred, and everything is going fine. Positive and negative experiences truly help us shape the leaders we are going to be.  While I know this to be true, I am still in awe of human nature,human nature and the behaviors that are demonstrated even when we know better.

Thanks for reading, I welcome your feedback!

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Are You Drifting?

 

Ever lose the enthusiasm and drive in your career?  Ever lost that feeling of satisfaction from doing a good days work? This happens to everyone once in a while, but for some it can become a long-term pattern. Being able to identify why you are in a slump can be tricky and even more difficult is finding a solution that changes your mind and your purpose.drift

I read a great blog post this weekend by Jessie Lyn Stoner entitled “Four Ways Leadership Drift Can Catch You Unaware”. The author discusses different ways that leadership drift manifests itself, often without the leader even realizing it. Life events that affect one’s ability to move upward within their career. A slow decline in one’s moral ethics by overlooking bad business practices. Others can drift because leading is not as fun or challenging as it used to be. There are a multitude of reasons that drift may occur, but the key is to identify why you may be drifting, and then determine what will get you back on track.

After reading this blog, I reflected on my own leadership position, and am happy to report that I am focused and satisfied with the route I am on. While I have experienced drift in the last few years, I was able to identify the root cause and change my path. I had been procrastinating on obtaining my MBA, using the excuses of family and work, as well as a fear of returning to school, as the reason for not taking action. I finally realized that the dreams I have for my future career are not attainable without this degree. Last fall I was accepted into the MBA program at the University of Nevada, Reno, and it has renewed in me an enthusiasm and eagerness that I had been lacking.

Everyone should get joy from their work; it should spark your creative abilities, result in a genuine concern and empathy towards others, and satisfy your innermost feelings of value and worth. As in any venture, the emotional and psychological effort and commitment you put into your career will generate the best return. You owe it to yourself to find your purpose, and pursue it with a vengeance!

I would love to get your feedback, let me know if you have experienced drift, and how you fixed it.

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Disaster Preparedness: Are We Prepared?

disasterIn Healthcare, we consistently practice different disaster scenarios in order to ensure all staff has a basic knowledge of what is expected. We have drills for fire, flood, power loss, earthquakes, even Ebola.  This last week we were tested in a different way and it became apparent that it is almost impossible to have a drill identified for every potential issue.

An anonymous caller phoned in to our PBX office, and stated “there is a bomb in your building, good luck finding it,” and hung up. We don’t have a drill for bomb threats, so the PBX operator determined what scenario best fit this threat, and called an alert. The alert was called overhead, and staff was mobilized. I immediately notified my teams to lock down their areas, and called those staff members who were throughout the hospital, telling them to get to a secure location.  The facility was locked down, the police department was notified, and we were basically on standby until more information was available.

The police were able to identify where the call originated from, and quickly determined who the culprit was and that the call was thankfully a hoax. I began rounding with all of my staff, shared what details I knew, and conducted an unofficial debriefing. As we discussed the scenario, it became apparent that my teams were unsure what their roles were. As in any organization, different people had different information, all sharing what they knew whether accurate or not. The biggest issue for my staff was whether or not they had to remain in the building.

In any life threatening situation, each and every one of us thinks immediately about our own safety and the safety of our loved ones. Even though I am in healthcare, and have a purpose to care for those who are sick and in need of help, I can’t tell my staff that they have to stay. My directive to each and every one of my employees is that they have to do what they feel most comfortable with. If they are frightened to the point of immobility, then the best thing is for them to leave the facility. For those who feel compelled to stay and help, I will support and assist them in any way I can.

This scenario identified that we have an opportunity to fine tune our policies and processes in relation to disaster planning. We need to better identify who is considered essential and who is not, and ensure that everyone is educated as to their rights and responsibilities in a disaster. We not only have an obligation to our patients, but just as important we need to consider our employees and what they are capable of as we create plans that are designed to save lives.

What would you ask of your employees in a disaster? I would love to get your feedback.

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From The Patients Perspective

Sometimes being confronted with a failure can be viewed as a negative experience, and sometimes it is a blessing in disguise. Working in healthcare, I visit with patients daily to check in on their hospital experience. I ask them about the nurses, doctors, ancillary departments and performance, and I always include questions about cooking and cleaning since these are two areas I am responsible for.  Today I got more than I bargained for, and I feel so much better for it!

I visited with a patient who has been in our hospital for a few days, so she has had a first-hand look at how we operate. I introduced myself, explained that I was there to check in, see what we are doing well, and to get feedback from her on what we can do better. The discussion started out on a positive note; she loves the nursing staff, they have been very attentive and responsive to her needs. The physicians that she has been in contact with have spent the time to explain her plan of care with her. She had a minimally invasive procedure today, and provided great reviews about the Radiology staff.

With all these rave reviews, I assumed that she was perfectly happy, but I asked the question that most generates feedback, “What can we do better?” I had no idea what I was in for.

faceAn immediate scowl appeared, and she bluntly said, “The food here sucks!” I explained that Dietary is one of my areas of responsibility, and that I really wanted to get her feedback on her entire food experience. She was very forthcoming with detail, and was a surprisingly descriptive storyteller.  She was incredibly unhappy with the majority of the food she had been served; she doesn’t like cinnamon, so the French toast we provided her was not acceptable. She is not a fan of gravy or sauces, doesn’t like the way we cook our scrambled eggs, we provide some weird combinations of vegetables, and some of our desserts are too dry. Not every statement was negative, she had enjoyed her lunch today, and her dinner yesterday was really very tasty, even if it did have gravy on it. With all of the feedback, I asked her what she thought we could do to better satisfy her needs. As a lifelong “cook from scratch”, she was very articulate, and gave me a list of things she would like to see on the menu. She told me what she liked to have for breakfast, she would really like to have any sauces or gravy placed as a side instead of on her food, and she told me what her favorite types of desserts were. I told her I would have notations put on her menu choices so that her likes and dislikes are better identified, and I told her I would follow-up with her tomorrow to see if these little tweaks improve her experience.

I put the changes in place, and wrote down all of her comments so I can share them with my Dietary team tomorrow morning. I do have to say, my knee jerk response to her first statement was to defend our work. But instead I listened to everything she had to say, and apologized for disappointing her. As I left, I thanked her for her input, and told her that her feedback allows us to make changes and improve. It was a perfect lesson for me; every person has a different experience, but every experience is important.

Have you ever had a bad hospital experience? I would love to hear about it.

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