We’ve worked with many people who have firsthand knowledge of how difficult it can be taking care of residents or patients needing very direct and personal services. And without internal support, it’s almost impossible.
Put yourself into the shoes of a nurse who has been given the brush-off by her department head just before knocking on a patient’s door. It might be difficult for her to effectively treat that next patient. Oh, she may get the temperature recorded right in the chart or their IV changed, but her interaction with that supervisor — just prior to delivery of service isn’t likely to add healing to the situation. In fact, the actions of the department head who just mishandled a communication with our nurse may spark yet another complaint on top of the first one. The nurse may focus on how she was treated rather than how she treats the human being in front of her.
You can’t just go back and say you are sorry. Bandaids don’t work well with human emotions.
The point is it will take time for the nurse — or anyone else — to get past being treated with disdain. Time she doesn’t have and hardly ever will, because there are always patients waiting.
As a leader in a health care or service organization, ask yourself this: Are you taking care of people who take care of people?
Here are some suggestions for health care and service related professionals that may help avoid a similar situation with the nurse described above. Although they may not address each and every situation, they do go a long way toward building trust and effectiveness to support effective, caring service.
• Empathize With Your Tone of Voice and The Words Spoken.
Let’s face it, taking care of people is a difficult task. Don’t make it more difficult by dismissing what people say because you are too busy to listen. Let employees vent. Most importantly, respond with words that let employees know you’ve heard what they’ve said and have some understanding of how they are feeling. And please, use a genuine tone of voice.
• Ask What You Can Do to Help.
In many cases, when asked, people will simply say, “nothing.” What they really need is someone to listen. Be that leader. Give them an outlet. Sometimes people can figure out how to solve their problems if they just have someone to think out loud with. It’s a good idea to interact with your employees.
• Show Authentic Interest.
We understand leaders have many things on their plate, but it creates distrust and ill-will if your head is back in the office while you are out on the floor. Showing interest says that, as a leader, you understand your business is really all about them. And it is about them, because they are the face of your company to the customers paying for your service. Support your employees emotionally. Provide positive feedback wherever possible, even for little things.
• Share credit for success with others.
Keep in touch with employees beyond “good morning” and “good night.” Make people feel better after they’ve spoken with you. not worse. Don’t be the reason someone had a bad day; there is nothing more poisonous to caring professions. Poor communication can also cost you serious dollars. Keep in mind that hardly anyone can afford to lose good people, especially those already trained and integrated into your company culture. Remember: people leave leaders, not organizations.
Effective leaders seize the moment. Take your moment to encourage that nurse just before she enters that patient’s room. The nurse will be glad you did. So will the patient. And eventually, so will you.
~ Diane Dudley