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3 must-do strategies for executive leaders to permanently improve employee engagement

Posted by capcityspeakers on January 17, 2017

by Vicki Hess

Every executive leader in healthcare has a vested interest in improving employee engagement – whether he or she acknowledges it or not.

Unfortunately, many senior leaders think HR should manage engagement or they are looking for a magic formula when it comes to sustained improvement. Of course one doesn’t exist.

First, the problem. Here’s what I typically hear in my conversations with hospitals and health systems across the country. Employee engagement survey results come in and senior leaders talk about how important engagement is with their manager group. They share their desire for front line leaders to create department level action plans to transform engagement.

The action plans are created and quite often recorded in online monitoring systems for “accountability”. Most leaders – at all levels – understand that engagement is a key lever for productivity, creativity, safety and patient satisfaction so these actions make sense. Too often, the actions center around what the organization and leader need to do to impact engagement and they leave off the personal responsibility of the employees – but that’s another article.

For a month or two, there’s a focus on improving engagement. Then a new priority comes along and the front line leader’s attention is drawn to a new concern. The front line leader’s “one-up” manager stops asking about engagement. It moves to the back burner and all of the sudden it’s 9 months later and time for a new survey and whole cycle starts again.

If you want to stop this vicious cycle, try these 3 strategies.

Have an Engagement Champion at the executive level
Ideally, everyone on the senior leadership team would feel completely committed to engagement, but I know that’s not always going to happen. To quote Peter Drucker, “Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.” This doesn’t mean that some leaders can let engagement slide off their dashboards; it does mean that you need a champion. Read the rest of this entry »


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Bratwurst, Bad Weather, & Bruises

Posted by capcityspeakers on July 8, 2016

by Vicki Hess

Remember those papers you wrote as kid entitled “What I learned on my summer vacation?” I just got back from a cycling vacation and I’d like to share what I learned and how it might help you at work.

1. Bratwurst
I’m a pretty healthy eater and wouldn’t typically eat anything close to a bratwurst – especially when it’s prepared by a street vendor and I don’t know the contents or origins of the sausage. But, I learned that sometimes the “locals” really do know what’s best and that bratwurst is really good!
Lesson Learned… Maybe the folks in other departments that are serving you their “bratwurst” really do know something you don’t know. Maybe the local knowledge gives them different insights and perspectives that you don’t have. What if you trusted their judgement and tried something new?

2. Bad WeatherGermany Rainbow
I cycled 168 miles in 6 days throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland. What a glorious way to see the countryside and observe local customs. One challenge was that It rained 5 of the 6 days. UGH! My husband and I could have ridden in the van and hung out in museums but that wasn’t the trip we had in mind so we got up every day and put on our right rain gear and started peddling. Of course it became a joke with our fellow cyclists. We are all better riders now and we still had lots of laughs.
So it was fitting that right after our good bye dinner in Konstanz, Germany we stepped outside to survey the skies. Lo and behold, we saw the most beautiful double rainbow over the city. What a fabulous reward for all the rain!

Lesson Learned… Work can be challenging. Unexpected obstacles arise and you just have to keep “peddling” to move forward. It’s not what you planned, it’s not what you would have chosen – it’s what’s in front of you right now. The bad weather brings the team closer and helps you learn – if you let it. Now you can go look for that rainbow.

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8 extraordinary things that healthcare presidents do: As reported by others in the organization

Posted by capcityspeakers on March 24, 2016

by Vicki Hess

It all started on a phone call with nursing leader, Anita Walden. Anita is the Chief Nursing Officer at Decatur Morgan Hospital in Decatur, AL. We were talking about best practices related to employee engagement and she shared a story with me about the president of the hospital, Nat Richardson. I was amazed!

When anyone enters the hospital he or she receives a postcard with the president’s picture and cell phone number. As Anita was telling me about this card, I automatically assumed that they had an assistant answering the phone and triaging the messages. I figured the president would then pass along the information to other senior leaders and make sure they were taken care of.

I was wrong (you’ll read more about this extraordinary president in #7 below). This prompted me to reach out to my followers on social media and my newsletter subscribers to ask for stories of extraordinary things that healthcare presidents/CEOs do. I asked one simple question and promptly received 10 responses. I’m sharing some of them verbatim and for the last few I’ll include the highlights. Of course, you don’t have to be the president to try out these ieas. Any leader – in fact anyone – can try them on for size.

Let’s define extraordinary

One thing I found particularly noteworthy is what folks describe as “extraordinary”. According to Merriam Webster, extraordinary means “going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary.”

What I also find interesting is that the folks who took the time to respond my question have defined extraordinary according to their own beliefs and mindsets. What I quickly learned is that one person’s “ordinary” often becomes another’s “extraordinary.” As you read the following eight ideas, you can judge for yourself.

1. Jars of jam. “Carole Holmes, CEO of inSite Senior Care, shared her love with us this past Christmas by using jam! She personally made a variety of little jars of jam from local fruit and sent them to all the residents and staff of each of inSite’s seven facilities. Everyone enjoyed her gift and the thought behind it.”
Shared by Angela Senneker, LPN, MA, Community Manager, Chateau Three Hills

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What Are You Cooking Up At Work?

Posted by capcityspeakers on December 2, 2015

by Vicki Hess

The Big Idea sign with clouds

My son, Josh, and I both love to cook. We also like watching TV shows about cooking. He recently recommended a Netflix documentary called Chef’s Table about chefs who change our perceptions of food and the way we treat the planet and ourselves.

One episode in particular got me thinking about you and work. The chef who was profiled is Dan Barber – the co-owner and executive chef of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns – and the author of the book, The Third Plate.

During the episode, Chef Dan shared that as a young chef a mentor told him, “If you’re not teetering on the edge of the tightrope, you’re not pushing the envelope enough.”

Of course, I immediately thought…”Am I teetering on the edge? Am I pushing the envelope enough?” But this isn’t about me, it’s about you.

“What would a person in your shoes do if he or she wanted to do the BIG thing? If he or she wanted to leave the BIG imprint on the person in front of him or her, then he or she would WHAT??

You might be thinking, “I can’t do the BIG thing, I’m just a (fill in your job). Or “How can I do something so impactful? I don’t have a BIG stage or the ability to make a difference.”

Not so fast my friend…the person you are with today – your coworker, customer, patient, boss, future customer, etc. is counting on YOU to do the BIG thing. That might be listening with empathy, finding a different solution or simply being kind. It’s not rocket science, but it has the power to change the world just like rocket science did.

As you wrap up 2015 and start to look towards 2016, chose to launch yourself, think BIG, stay on the tightrope, have fun, make a difference.

If not you, then who?

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