My blessing formula started with a genuine whining session that I was having with my boss. I was frustrated with the team I was leading.
I felt that I was more House Mom, Referee, and the individual who walks behind the horses in a parade scooping up the poop left behind. I was frustrated beyond the words that I could express. Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you feel that way right now?
It is a tough market to find good people and keep them in a role within your long term facility. Notice I said role, not job …
My very wise boss listened to my words of hopelessness as I spewed on and on. Then she asked me what I was grateful for in each individual person who was on the team. That was not what I wanted to hear, nor could I answer.
I wanted to fire each and every one of them. I wanted to hire new people and start over. Yet, I knew when you infuse chaos into care settings you will decrease quality and safety. It is a simple cause and effect outcome of people being fearful they are unable to focus beyond themselves.
I also knew that I was at a bifurcation in my own role. I needed to turn the situation onto a different path or I needed to look for a new path myself. It had to change … I developed an action plan that I named, “Operation Love Them.”
I identified that, in my frustration, I could not see the skills and talent waiting to shine. I could only see what made me frustrated, disappointed or angry. The first question I asked myself was simply, “How does (insert name) bless?” I started to notice the small actions that made a difference.
One of my team members had the best smile I have ever seen. I watched faces light up when he walked into the room. Every day I would say thank you for your hard work today. My words were robotic, not genuine.
One day I called him into my office. He came in shoulders drooped expecting a negative interaction. I apologized to him for only focusing on what was wrong. I shared that I had failed to notice the difference he made every day by being present to those he was caring for and his team members. I shared, “ I just watched a family go from saddened, pained faces to smiling and laughing just by your presence. Your authentic self touched their hearts.” “You’re my hero.”
I had to discipline myself to look for what was right. I had to discipline myself to be specific in my acknowledgement of what I saw as a blessing. When I needed to deal with what was not a blessing, the conversations were easier as the individual knew that I had the best intentions in wanting them to do better.
I coached several people out of their role and did it in a way that persevered them, resulting in thank you notes written for my help. It isn’t that you do not do the tough leadership actions, it is how you do them that people appreciate.
As I changed, so did each individual. You could feel the change within the air. Yet, we still were not jelled as a team. Teamwork does not magically happen. The NFL spends billions of dollars on the product called a team. The whole business strategy is to develop a high-performance team to win games.
Frankly, the goal of moving a leather ball up and down a field is insignificant compared to the work we do. Yet team building in healthcare is seen as a soft cost. Not a strategy. Envision how the conversation would go if you were to tell the owners of the NFL teams that team-building and practices are non-productive and they will need to cut hours.
Leaders must create the opportunity to develop individuals into team members. This is not a nice thing to do; it is a strategic action to achieve operational excellence. I had to change my lens on how I looked at the composition of the team. I saw people doing jobs. I needed to see roles within the team.
If you look at high-performance teams, they do not have jobs. They have roles. As we worked on defining the roles, building on strengths of the team, not individuals, it jelled.
Do not define people by the job categories of HR. Think about the roles you need for your team and be clear in your definitions. Again, looking at the NFL, there are several roles with the same titles, but the expectations and actions are different depending upon the goals and actions needed. As a leader, it is harder to design a team based on strengths and roles. It is easier to plug individuals into the job categories and then feel frustrated.
My formula of Blessings: Gratitude+Employee Engagement = Leadership, resulted in transformation. Transformation of me as a leader, transformation of the team and most importantly, the care we were giving.
We went from one of the lowest performing to award winning with a visit from a vice president of the Untied States, celebrities and, most importantly, families and their loved ones who knew they had placed their trust in a committed team who worked to be the best they could for them.
Martie L. Moore, MAOM, RN, CPHQ, has been an executive healthcare leader for more than 20 years. She has served on advisory boards for the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel and the American Nurses Association, and she currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at the University of Central Florida College of Nursing. She recently was honored by Saint’s Martin’s University with an honorary doctorate degree for her service and accomplishments in advancing healthcare.