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

by Burl Stamp

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 Dialogue we’ve always recommended leaders have with each staff member at least a couple of time each year is so important in 2021.

Unlike the traditional performance appraisal meeting, the Development Dialogue is all about listening. Understanding each employee’s personal goals, concerns, ideas, and thoughts about their future with the organization has never been so important.

Asking an employee, “How are you doing?” is a reasonable first step. But that question alone, which often seems rhetorical, is hardly enough.

These five questions can help open a more meaningful dialogue.

  • What has been most difficult for you this year during the pandemic?
  • Which accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What do you hope leadership really understands about what you’ve been through?
  • How can your experience and skills contribute in an even bigger way to our success going forward?
  • How can I and other members of the team best support you right now?

Because of the pandemic, many health care professionals are at a difference place – personally and professionally – than they’ve ever been before. Opening up an honest, empathetic conversation with each individual can be one of the most important gifts a leader can offer to a team as our organizational recovery from COVID-19 continues.

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