Guest Columns

Tending to the heart of your team

Lisa Thomson
Lisa Thomson

The clinical staff is the heart of any great post-acute organization. This team functions as caregivers, teachers, facilitators, advocates, therapists and supporting friends, not only to patients, but also families who are dealing with the stressful transitions from hospitals to the next care setting.

A great team does more than focus on one finite physical issue presented by a patient. In this same way, a leader must holistically tend to the entire staff's needs: Physically, mentally and emotionally. A healthy heart is also good for business. 

Your clinical team fills a demanding position, so recruitment and retention of these clinicians are vital. It is critically important to support their continued dedication and commitment to the delivery of quality care. This loyalty improves safety, efficiency and profitability. 

The Corporation for Positive Change identified five strategies to meet a different need that people have for high performance, including: 

  • to know they belong 
  • to feel valued for what they have to contribute
  • to know where the organization or community is headed
  • to know that excellence is expected and can be depended on
  • to know that they are contributing to the greater good.

Create One Team - Your Team. Consider the following key strategies to ensure your leadership heart remains focused on developing your team: 

  1. Listen: Implement surveys to evaluate your staff's satisfaction with their supervisors. For example, consider issues such as whether the supervisor listens to what they say, and how he/she treats employees when they make mistakes. Take immediate action to correct any deficiencies. 
  2. Acknowledge: Give unexpected appreciation and structured incentives for above-and-beyond performance. Incorporate appreciative approaches in the workplace. Seek out things that people do well, and build on those strengths. Ask questions that have them searching for positive answers instead of negative ones. 
  3. Support: Define best practices to make it easier for you staff to succeed. Position your organization for the future by offering training for technical skills with advancements in technology.  
    Provide resources for administrative tasks, especially for changing regulations, like the transition to ICD-10.
  4. Inform: Ensure that every employee sees the organization's "big picture" and his/her contribution to it. Employees who feel connected to the organization have a vested interest in its success.

Lisa Thomson is the chief marketing and strategy officer at Pathway Health.

Resources: Ten Ways to Create an Employee-centered Workplace, HR.com Five Strategies of Appreciative Leadership, Corporation for positive change. www.positivechange.org What is Servant Leadership, Concordiaonline.net

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Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.

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