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Fresh, usable ideas to help your team think differently about patient and team engagement

Hold the pepperoni; staff are craving something more satisfying than pizza

Several weeks ago during an NBC Nightly News story on nursing burnout, I heard a tired, dedicated nurse from Little Rock voice in frustration, “… and please don’t order us any more pizza.” In a face-to-face conversation with a health care worker a few weeks ago, I heard a similar sentiment: “If one more person tries to hand me a piece of candy, I’m going to throw it back in their face.” How to best recognize staff is an issue that I’ve seen leaders grappling with since the beginning of my career. I’ve seen it all, from complicated points-and-prizes systems to “thank you” candy bars with the hospital’s logo. In the past, organization’s efforts to recognize and reward staff with clever prizes and treats were

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For healthcare, COVID has forever changed the rules of engagement

Turnover. Burnout. Intense competition for talent. Lower staff engagement. Never before have human capital issues consumed such a significant share of health system’s concerns about the future. While the pandemic has raised new challenges in retention and staff engagement across industries, nowhere are these issues more pronounced than in healthcare. This is the final installment in our series Leadership in the Time of Coronavirus. When we started this series, some may have wondered why we were talking about the pandemic when the worst seemed to be over. Vaccines appeared to provide a viable path to control the virus. And cases were dropping dramatically after the surge in late winter. But today, it is more than just the emergence of highly contagious variants and vaccine resistance

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Be careful what you wish for! Five tips to avoid the healthcare “management blues”

New title. New office. New status in the organization. Being promoted to a management position is everything you’ve dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve, right? Not always. A recent article in Harvard Business Review by professors Nishani Bourmault and Michel Anteby looks at why employees moving up to management roles experience what they describe as “managerial blues.” In “Research: Becoming a Manager Doesn’t Always Feel Like a Step Up,” Bourmault and Anteby describe why staff drivers moving up to managers in the Paris subway system frequently experienced disappointment in their new roles. The new managers described that in their old jobs, they dealt with life-and-death situations, consistently feeling a great responsibility for the lives of others. “On one subway train,” one driver related,

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Five questions to make the “How are you doing?” conversation more meaningful

Supporting staff and staying connected to how they’re feeling has never been more important. As health care organizations emerge from what has hopefully been the worst of the pandemic, there will be a tendency to breathe a sigh of relief and high-five the team’s success. Indeed, there is much for the country to be thankful for regarding healthcare professionals’ sacrifices over the past year. But for health care leaders, the emphasis now should not only be on celebration. Rather, effective leaders who are really focused on supporting staff today are more concerned about the toll heroic efforts have taken. Why the Development Dialogue makes sense now Of course, each individual employee has his/her own story and struggles related to the pandemic. That’s why the Development

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Why catching your team in the act of doing good is so important right now

“It seems like they only notice when we do something wrong!” When working with frontline staff, I’ve certainly heard that statement more than once. In many cases, the complaint might be overstated, and employees may even admit that if pressed. But staff usually think that leaders are too critical not because they point out problems too often. Rather, it is because they offer positive feedback too seldom. In our T.E.A.M. leadership model, observation is one of the important practices within the “Mentor” module. By spending time in the trenches with staff, leaders have a much more powerful platform to provide feedback – both positive and constructive. Right now, spending time on the front line alongside your team is more important than ever. With anxiety running

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Rethinking the purpose and power of goal-setting during the pandemic

For health care organizations focused largely on operational survival, hour-to-hour may best describe their planning horizon right now. The stress and immediate challenges of the pandemic have thrown a wrench in most healthcare systems disciplined, predictable annual goal-setting processes. But the pandemic shouldn’t cause organizations to toss aside goals and the process of goal-setting, especially at the workgroup level. This article is the fifth in our series Leadership in the Time of Coronavirus. Today, we look at how to use adapted goals to stay focused and to support a workforce that is physically exhausted, emotionally drained and, in some cases, disillusioned. Following are three key ways to think differently about goal-setting during the pandemic, pulling back on some priorities and leaning into others. Be as

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When staff feel they’ve lost control, involving them in decisions is even more critical

All of us have experienced a sense of powerlessness this year because of COVID-19. For health care professionals, that frustration has been magnified 10-fold. While leaders cannot magically reduce the problems caused by the pandemic, they can include staff members in problem-solving and decision-making. Especially now, empowering staff by listening to their frustrations and their ideas for addressing them is essential. The this fourth installment in our series, Leadership in the Time of Coronavirus, we talk about the power of empowerment in this short video:

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Leadership rounding should be a gift you give your staff … and yourself

It is Christmas Day as I’m writing this blog. This quiet afternoon took me back to a similar Christmas afternoon in 1998. I was the new CEO of Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and that afternoon I made one of the best spur-of-the-moment decisions I’ve ever made as a healthcare leader. Our kids were young at the time. Between the excitement of opening gifts on Christmas morning and our traditional holiday dinner, things were very quiet around the house. Out of the blue, I said to my wife Luanne, “I think I’m going to go down to the hospital for a little while.” “To work?!” she said. “It’s Christmas.” “No, just to walk around and tell the staff how much I appreciate them being there on Christmas

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A Forum for Team Conversation — and Venting — is Vital during COVID-19

“Are you crazy?!” That’s the reaction I might get from some leaders when insisting that staff meetings are more important now than ever. Yes, staff meetings take some thought and time to be effective. But team meetings are the only place where staff have a chance to have a focused conversation with all their colleagues. That is, when we shut up and let them talk. At no time in recent memory have the demands on leaders been more exhausting and protracted than in 2020. This blog is installment #2 in our series, Leadership in the Time of Coronavirus, which takes a fresh look at our T.E.A.M. leadership model through a COVID-19 lens. With most meetings going virtual, today it is easier for staff to attend

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Connecting with your team every day has never been more important

Among the many responsibilities of frontline health care leaders, activities that help the team work as a highly-functioning unit are critically important. Understanding the dynamics of the team as a whole is essential to nurturing the teamwork that improves quality, safety and patient experience. For over three decades, the health care industry has faced rapid change and unique operational, financial and market challenges. But at no time in recent memory have the demands on health care leaders  been more exhausting and protracted than in 2020. This blog is installment #1 in our series, Leadership in the Time of Coronavirus, which takes a fresh look at our T.E.A.M. leadership model through a COVID-19 lens. Each component of the T.E.A.M. leadership model – Teach, Empower, Align and

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