|Barbara Mintzer's Newsletter
The Power of a Vision... a Leader's Journey
August / September 2007
I have worked with the management and employees of a number of medical facilities, and note how many of these facilities have implemented a "Commitment to Caring" policy regarding the treatment of patients, co-workers, etc. I certainly commend any organization or association that puts a priority on caring, however, the question is whose priority is it? Is it just the hands-on staff who needs to be concerned with caring, or does it start with management, who sets the values and vision for everyone to follow?
You all know I have a deep respect and admiration for ANYONE in management, regardless of the industry. Managing others is a difficult job. I have worked with hundreds of managers who want to do their best, but unknowingly stand in their own way. Health care, in particular, is a constant battle between cost and compassion and many managers are so concerned with bottom line issues, they miss the chance to be compassionate and caring to the people who work for them. I have said this so many times before, but I will say it again: managers are role models, like it or not, and it is up to you to role model the behavior you wish to see in others. So, as a manager, how can you role model your "Commitment to Caring?" I believe the following strategies are very effective in expressing your commitment:
1. Show your staff that you trust them. This first point is crucial. You must be willing to trust your judgment in who you hired, and trust their judgment to do their jobs caringly and compassionately. Many managers tell me they trust their staff, and then proceed to micro-manage every aspect of the work their staff is hired to do. Once you have given your staff the work they need to do, get out of their way, and let them do it. Give them the space they need to be creative, innovative, and enthusiastic about the work they do. Trust that they know what to do. If they have a respectful and honest relationship with you, they will come to you if they need your assistance and/or guidance.
2. Set boundaries for your staff. A number of managers have the mistaken belief that the best way to show caring to their staff is to be more of a "buddy" than a manager. They bend the rules when asked, and quite frankly, they give up being respected for being liked. BIG MISTAKE. If your staff likes you, that is the icing on the cake. However, more importantly, your staff must respect you and the job you are doing. You show more caring when you set boundaries and create structure in the work environment. There needs to be consequences when people do not work within the appropriate boundaries. If the behavior they exhibit is not appropriate, employees must be made aware of it and they must be given a specific time-frame to correct this behavior. It is far more caring to confront inappropriate behavior and give the person a chance to self-correct, than to let this behavior continue because you want to be the "nice guy" and do not want to confront. You do nobody a favor when you abdicate your position of authority.
3. Appreciate the sacrifices your staff makes for you. When I am called into an organization to help facilitate communications between management and employees, I continually come up against the reality of what employees do to get a job done vs. what management THINKS it took to get the job done. Almost always, employees have put in more time, more commitment, made more personal sacrifices, to get the job done than management knows about. This should not be. Management should know what employees go through for them, and the employees should be told how much their effort is appreciated. One major reason for people leaving a job is that they do not feel appreciated for the work they do. Do not let this happen in your department or organization. Know what is going on with your staff...encourage them to let you know what they have done...and make them feel important. Most employees will give their all for you if they know their work has meaning and is noticed and appreciated by the people they work for.
4. Value the people who make you look good. One of the basic responsibilities of leaders is to get things accomplished through others. Anyone in a leadership position knows you can't do it alone. It takes a cohesive, productive, dedicated team effort to accomplish goals and work towards a vision. As a leader you can formulate and articulate a vision for your people to strive towards, and you can give them the direction they need to achieve that vision. But they have to go out and make it happen. If they believe you value them and the work they do, and if they believe their work has purpose and contributes to the good of the organization, they will be motivated to do the best they can. Your ability and willingness to help them develop and stay on purpose is the highest calling of leadership.
"An empowered organization is one in which
I believe the above quote puts this Newsletter in perspective. It is understood that the people you hire have the knowledge and skill to do the jobs they are hired for. However, the desire and opportunity to succeed in their jobs is greatly influenced by you and your style of management/leadership. If you truly believe that your employees are the strongest asset your organization has, and you understand the effect you have on their success, you are well on your way to creating a "Commitment to Caring" that all in the organization can live by.
We have had a lot to think about in this Newsletter. I would LOVE to hear from some of you in management/leadership positions who would like to give me another perspective to consider. NOTE: I am now booking engagements for Nurses Week 2008. Let me come to your facility, organization, or association and present a powerful, hands-on program for all your nursing professionals. I will customize my program to reflect the opportunities and challenges YOUR nursing professionals are facing in their work environments today.
About the Author
Barbara Mintzer is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant with over 30 years in business and healthcare. She speaks from experience! Her how-to programs provide participants with immediately applicable skills and strategies for getting buy-in and commitment from staff and staying on top of their professions in today's competitive and constantly changing workplace. Barbara presents keynote talks and breakout sessions for international, national, regional and state Conferences. She also conducts management retreats and in-house seminars. She facilitates panel discussions and roundtables and can be a master of ceremonies for your event...a good investment for your meeting budget. To explore the possibility of having Barbara speak at your next event, or work with your staff/leadership team, please contact her office.