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. I 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.
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