Get Involved-Partners in Education

My company participates through the Education Alliance of Washoe County in the Partners in Education program.  We get to partner with Dilworth Middle school in Sparks. About three years ago, I was asked to participate as our company’s liaison in this relationship. This has become one of the perks of my employment, in that we get to support and celebrate the students in their education journey.Dilworth

Our program supports the Dilworth students in a variety of ways. The Stem Academy focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Volunteers from our facility participate in student Stem Academy presentations, providing valuable feedback that enhances student content and suggested presentation tips. We invite students to tour our hospital, visiting various departments to give students a front row seat to healthcare careers. Tours include the Emergency Department, Diagnostic Radiology, Laboratory, and the Operating Room. It is a great way to introduce students to the possibilities of pursuing a career in Healthcare. We support Dilworth’s reading program, a friendly quarterly competition that rewards students for reaching their goals in the books they read for fun. We go on site and provide pancake breakfasts or brownie sundae celebrations. These events are the most entertaining, in that we get to celebrate those students who reach their goals, and the special attention helps to motivate other students to actively participate. The school was participating in a shoe drive competition with all Washoe County schools, and we were able to support them by providing donated shoes to help meet their goal. The best part of this partnership is getting to meet and interact with the Dilworth students and teachers. The students are such are an eclectic group, with great personalities and perspectives. The teachers inspire awe with their commitment and dedication to the students and their success.

This is such a wonderful experience, and I would like to encourage other companies within Washoe County to participate in this truly rewarding program. The potential to positively impact a student’s experience and to perhaps give them a new perspective for their future is truly priceless.

If you are interested in getting more information about this truly rewarding program, leave a comment and I will be happy to get you involved.

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From The Customer’s Perspective

 

In my daily work life, I direct the processes and procedures that each of my teams perform. I understand the regulatory requirements for each task, and I am responsible for ensuring that the requirements are met every time. I inspect the work of my teams as their leader, and make adjustments as needed based on this leadership perspective. I recently had the opportunity to experience their work product from the eyes of the customer, and it gave me a new appreciation for not only the work my teams perform, but the work performed by several areas of the facility.

My son recently had a health issue that required a visit to the Emergency Department at the hospital I work for. The visit was late in the evening, so I was not a familiar face to most of the staff that we encountered, which gave me the opportunity to act as a secret shopper. We weretriage image triaged quickly, and were taken to a room within 30 minutes of arrival.  The physician came in; talked with my son about the issues he was having, and quickly decided to do lab work and an X-ray. The ER nurse came in, very friendly and personable with a great bedside manner, explaining to us that she was going to draw his blood. Shortly after that the Radiology technician came to take him for his X-ray. We were back in the Emergency Department within a short amount of time, and were told we just needed to wait for the results of all of the tests.

Traveling between the various departments, I was able to survey our surroundings. The room we were in was extremely clean; I checked the vital signs monitor for dust, inspected the floor and walls for signs of dust or debris, I even checked out the bottom of the gurney to see if it was being cleaned to our standards. When we went to Radiology, I checked the hallways and common areas, and found everything to be exactly as it should be.

I am happy to say that all results came back and there was no earth shattering news. We were given our home care instructions, and were quickly discharged. This entire experience took us less than three hours, but I was able to get an entirely new perspective on what our customer’s experience. Everyone we encountered; the registration clerks, Radiology technician, ER physician and nurse were caring, compassionate and friendly. All of the areas we visited were fresh and clean, which enhanced our experience. And from a different viewpoint, I was able to see how diligent and committed my staff is to our customers. I have a newfound respect for my teams and the work they do behind the scenes to create an inviting environment for patients and visitors alike. I am proud to be a part of their team!

Feel free to share comments or stories below, thank you for visiting my blog!

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The Challenges of Productivity

imagesU0588XKRThis week has been one of the most professionally difficult I have had in quite a while. As a leader in a large corporation, I have found myself to be extremely challenged by productivity standards that are difficult to adhere to and still meet the expectations of our customers. I continue to communicate in a way that will bolster my team’s morale, but I see that the challenges are wearing on them.

I recently heard “Volume cures all ills”. As a leader in a healthcare facility, that means the more patients we have in our hospital, the more resources I have available to each of my teams. When volume is low, we need fewer resources and so need to flex employees off. While everyone enjoys the opportunity to skip out of work early on occasion, it becomes wearing when it is required on a daily basis. This has been the dilemma I have been facing. Our volumes are down, so every one of my employees has been working reduced hours for the last three weeks. The reduced hours affects the workload, in that the core responsibilities are taken care of, but some of the extra duties are not completed. As you can imagine, this has a snowball effect 2012-01-09-Snowball-Effectin that each day the tasks needing attention increase, but we don’t have the time to complete them.

Through it all, I am trying to maintain a positive outlook; I focus on creative ways to catch up, offer my time and abilities to help out, and consistently communicate that the volume decline will be short-lived. This is usually the busiest time of year for us, as winter brings flu season which increases our volume. The mild weather we have had has positively impacted cold and flu season. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wish for people to be sick, but their sickness allows my team to do their jobs, and provides my team with satisfaction in knowing they are doing their jobs well.

Thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment!

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Different Roads to Motivation

I recently blogged about the need to keep employees motivated, and finding various ways to celebrate them and their efforts as a great motivator. This week, I had to go in the opposite direction, as my motivational tactics were not driving the results I was looking for. It is interesting to see how different types of motivation can result in the desired outcome.

Two of my departments directly affect the patient experience, and are rated by our patients on how we perform. We are extremely focused on improving this experience, and all of my staff have been given new tasks that should increase patient satisfaction. For my Environmental Services staff, when they enter the patients room, they are required to state their name, and ask for permission to clean the room. When they have completed this task, they are to poll the patient on how they think we are doing from a cleaning standpoint, and ask them if there is anything we could be doing better. Since satisfaction is based on perception, we need to know what our patient’s think in order to implement the correct change. Most of my staff have embraced this new requirement, and we are seeing that these pointed questions are making an improvement. But I have one staff member who has been resistant; I have asked, prompted, cajoled, coddled, used humor, and put up co-workers as examples to try to drive compliance, but nothing was working. I finally had to perform a corrective action on this employee, because he just wasn’t acting with any sense of urgency to my directive.

As we discussed his reasoning for not performing as asked, he stated that he gets nervous because his English is limited. He is worried that someone will tell him or ask him something that he won’t understand. comfortI asked him why he didn’t discuss this with me when we started this new process, and he said he didn’t think it was going to be so difficult. Early in the process, he had a conversation with a patient in which the patient asked him for something. My staff member didn’t understand what the patient wanted, so instead of getting help he ignored the request. While there was no fallout from the ignored request, my staff was nervous about potential future issues, so he just decided not to do as directed.

In our meeting, I decided I would act as a mentor to help demonstrate and observe how the interaction should take place. We visited patients together, first demonstrating how the discussion should go, and then observing how my staff member interacted with the patients. This made him more comfortable with the process, and he was given peace of mind that if something came up that he didn’t understand, he could get help from his co-workers or nursing staff to take care of the patient’s needs. While the repercussions for not following directions were enforced, we were able to come up with a solution that helped improve the understanding of the expectations, and the resources available should help be needed.  By the end of the week, I could see that my staff was feeling more confident in his interactions, and I am hopeful that the improvement will continue.

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Mentoring New Leaders

One of the obvious keys to a successful organization is having a highly skilled management team, but how do you incorporate the experience of new managers into the current cultureThe best and most successful way is to use the resources of existing managers to help train to the culture, processes, and business functions. I have been lucky enough to see this process play out from an almost non-existent program to one that provides proctoring to new managers at every level of the organization, and it has improved our performance in every way.traingleofservices

I started with my current employer a little over 10 years ago in my first management position. I was so enthusiastic and excited to be starting with a new company, meeting my team, and the opportunity to lead my department in new directions. My first day, I met my new boss in his office. We stopped by the Human Resources department to get my ID badge, and then I was shown to my new office and introduced to my team. And that is where my “formal” orientation ended.  I was left to fend for myself, to find people who could educate me on past history, teach me how to operate new systems, hunt to find policies and procedures. Add to that, my new boss was requested to find employment elsewhere during my second week, and our CEO was let go prior to the completion of my second month on the job. Needless to say, those first few months were the most difficult, but pivotal in helping me to find my inner strength.

The organization went through many changes over the next few years, we had several interim C-Suite executives, as well as quite a few mid level managers who came and went. At my two-year anniversary, I had become one of the most tenured leaders within the organization, and found myself becoming a resource for most of the new managers. Training is always a time-consuming activity, so you want to be sure to share everything needed to help new managers do well and prosper. But the training program was still weak, and it became evident that we had to do something to improve how we on-boarded new leaders to help them succeed.

It finally took the addition of a new CEO to create a plan that would facilitate the training of new managers; the organization he had come from had an extremely successful program that had a proven track record in retention . A process improvement team of six was put in place to identify what processes, policies, and education had to occur to drive success. A checklist was created that identified all of the key checklist-310092_640areas requiring training, and identified the managers who would provide the support. During the first week of employment, the new hire would be assigned to managers in each area, allowing ample time to demonstrate systems and processes needed to perform daily functions. This also provided the new hires with the appropriate resources that would help them through their evaluation period.

Since the program was implemented, management turnover has decreased significantly. Managers finally had the foundational training and resources needed to positively integrate into the organization. As one of the proctors, I see the extreme value in the service I provide in training and educating, and I have had the opportunity to make some very good friends along the way. This program has been able to increase the cohesion between the management team, helped to facilitate the building of trust relationships, and made the organization stronger and more ready for long-term growth.

I enjoy hearing about programs that have had similar success, so feel free to share your experiences. I would love to hear from you!

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An “AH HA” Moment

Ever have those days where something small happens and it awakens a new opportunity or purpose for you to investigate? This past week I had an “ah ha” moment that both inspired and humbled me, as it showed me that I know far less than I thought, and how I can improve my knowledge base and continue to be a better leader.Ah Ha Moment

As leaders, we get to know our employees through daily interactions, through their performance, how they interact within their team as well as with other teams. We know the basics about their home lives, their families, work experience, career expectations and long-term goals. While all of this information is valuable, it doesn’t always tell the history of their lives, which in turns gives us a window to see what truly motivates them. In my Dietary department, I have staff that hail from several different continents and backgrounds. I have five cooks that prepare food both for patients and the public, they work diligently behind the scenes to create appetizing meals that both nourish and heal. They are all truly committed to what they do, but there are some limitations to what they can do based on diet restrictions or mass appeal. Because of their diversity, I decided we would “Spotlight” our cooks by giving them an opportunity to make a meal that is from their home country, that speaks to their culture and the things that mean the most to them. When I pitched this to them, they were not totally open to the idea, but they did warm up to it as they realized what it would allow them to do creatively.

Our first “Spotlight” occurred last Thursday. I created a poster board with a picture of the “chef” for the day, and because he is from Mexico, added his recipe in both English and Spanish. We added a short biography, wanting to define why the recipe is important to the chef, and give some detail from his home country and childhood. I learned so much more than I previously had known, and found it intensified the connection I have to this particular staff member. When I showed him the board, he was clearly moved by the detail provided, and how well it spotlighted not only his recipe, but him as a person outside of his profession. Everyone who visited our cafeteria that day learned something new about this staff member, and got to fill their bellies with his fantastically tasty meal.

I met with my team after the event was over, to gain their feedback about the experience, what worked, what we could improve before the next “Spotlight”. lightbulbEveryone was extremely enthusiastic, they had gotten great reviews from the customers, and felt it had been a huge success. But the one thing that had created the most enthusiasm was the poster board. Being highlighted in such a personal way, and being celebrated for both their cooking acumen as well as their personal experience had the greatest impact on all of the staff. This was my “ah ha”moment; while my intention was to celebrate my staff and their contributions, and give them an opportunity to be more creative than is normally allowed, I didn’t truly understand how meaningful it would be to them.

We are already working on our next “Spotlight”, and my staff are arguing over who gets to go next. I am as excited to learn new things about my staff as they are to share with me. And it truly enforces that while I do know quite a bit about each and every member of my team, there is so much more to learn and I am excited about the journey!

Please share your thoughts, feedback and suggestions are always welcome!

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Process Improvement-Maintaining Motivation

You have implemented a new plan at work that is going to improve your customer’s experience, while also helping you to improve the product that you provide. Your team starts out strong, everyone motivated for the greater good, ready to fix anything. How do you maintain this high level of motivation as the process continues over time?

This is  a challenge I am currently experiencing. In an effort to improve our patient satisfaction scores, one of my teams implemented daily patient rounding, the focus of which is to get feedback from our patients on what they like or don’t like. The team “huddles” every morning to go over the previous days results, and then determine how we can implement all of the suggestions for improvement. I require my team members to document the interaction, and obtain a rating from the patient per a predetermined scale. Not everyone on the team has responsibility to talk with patients, but they are required to meet daily so they are well versed on what our patients want.

My team was initially reluctant to get on board, as this became another task that they had to complete every day. But as we progressed, everyone was engaged in finding solutions to problems that the patients identified. We celebrated those successes when a patient was extremely happy with our services, and we followed up when the feedback was less than complimentary. We track the rating scale so we can see week by week how we are doing. This process has been in place for three months, and we are seeing increased satisfaction across the board.teamwork

While everyone is excited about the improvements, I feel I need to implement a new “something” to get them reinvigorated. We have been tracking our progress within the department, so my new idea is to shout our progress to the masses! What better way to give my team a warm and fuzzy feeling than to be recognized by someone other than me on our success. I have created a newsletter that will be circulated monthly, it will highlight actual patient feedback and what steps we take to address issues. With this process we have gotten several hand written recognitions from patients about my team; I am going to highlight one team member each month who has proven to be an advocate for our improvement. They will get an award, as well as a personal recognition from my administrative team to acknowledge their contributions.

I am excited to begin this new activity, and to see what excitement and enthusiasm it will generate within my team. We continue to make great improvements, with this new change I am hopeful that the personal recognition also builds additional commitment to this process.

Thanks for reading, let me know what you think in the comment section below!!

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