The more responsibility you give people, the more you empower them, the more you engage and coach them, the less they will interrupt you. The only way to have sustainable improvements (in any area) is to make the process self-sufficient. Staff engagement should be like a perpetual motion machine; you get things started, and then they continue under their own metaphorical steam.
Leaders coach their “Clean Team:” the people who work for and with them. They engage employees in the cleanliness task, and encourage them to be fearless in speaking up when procedures need to change. Leaders need to empower employees to take the initiative and do what is necessary to keep a clean environment.
How is this done? With the Five-Step Coaching Model:
C Communicate expectations. Clarify your hospital’s cleanliness objective: conquering HAI’s.
O Opportunity for suggestions from staff. Gain staff buy-in by listening to their ideas for cleanliness improvement.
A Ask what actions staff are willing to take. Get them involved and applaud engagement.
C Clear any roadblocks in their plan. Cheer their ideas.
H Hear back the agreement and the HAI’s’ goals you’ve agreed upon. Happily follow up, and encourage staff in their efforts.
The ultimate high of being a coach or leading someone is when that someone reaches his or her potential. Both the person and the team of people he works with are rewarded. This is the great joy of leadership.
Foundations for Engagement – Do You Have an Effective Team to Lead Your HCAHPS/Cleanliness Domain?
We want to coach and bring about ownership. Engagement by all staff in the fight against HAI’s is not optional!
Service Excellence Council/Patient Experience Team: The mission is to provide focused leadership to engage everyone to improve the patient experience. We recommend a ratio of 60% management (people who have the time to provide leadership) and 40% frontline. Pick your brightest and your best. The purpose of this council or team is to provide representation of, and training to, the entire hospital organization.
If you want to be successful, there are three critical areas in which to direct your focus.
1. Coordinate leadership and frontline education. Everybody has to know what to do - just because your staff attended a meeting doesn’t necessarily mean they know what to do. Try forming a Service Excellence Council (if you don’t have one already) to make sure the training takes place and remains in practice.
2. Implement priority best practices. Focus on the ones that are highly correlated to becoming an employer and provider of choice.
3. Monitor patient survey results and ensure continuous improvement. (What did we learn? What are we going to do better? What did we discover? What SOPs do we need to change?)
Lead by Example: Your staff have to see you leading the charge; they have to see you rolling up your sleeves. You cannot just say something and then not do it. You cannot simply distribute wonderfully written emails, or hold “town hall” meetings encouraging staff in word alone, because if they don’t see you walking the talk, they’re not going to do it either.
It is by example that people become involved.
The important thing is progress, not perfection. Make sure your leadership is open to the frontline’s involvement and initiative. If you respect their suggestions by honoring and implementing them, you will get the staff actively involved.
One final thought:
A toilet was overflowing onto the floor of a hospital, and a young staff member ran to the nearest office for help, which was the CEO’s office in Administration.
“What are we going to do?!” he cried.
The CEO led the young man to the supply closet, where the two of them got buckets and mops, and the CEO lead this staff member in cleaning up the situation.
The point is everyone is responsible for the cleanliness of the hospital. Everyone. If you set the standard, others will follow.
The Take Away
Improving and maintaining cleanliness is everyone’s responsibility. Informing and leading all staff in this process is the role of the Service Excellence Council – if you don’t have one, you should. Leading by example is the truest form of leadership.
“Be a master of the job before you. Be a student of the job above you. And be a coach of the job below you.”
– Adelfa Callejo
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