When working with leaders on improving the patient experience, I typically remind them to ask three crucial questions about their staffs:
- Do they (staff members) know what to do?
- Do they know how to do what is asked?
- Do they want to do what is asked?
When I see organizations struggling with consistency, it often boils down to leaders not clearly defining what they expect with standards. That is in response to the first question. The “what” boils down to the standards that create the organization’s “way” of doing things. The second question is the “how?” Did you take time to train the staff on what you want them to do? Did they have the opportunity to practice with others? Did they have the chance to ask their “what if” questions? I’m often amazed during our training sessions how the staff gobbles up every practice opportunity. I often wonder if, with our high tech world, trainees want more opportunity to interact and practice. It sure seems that way.
Training gives the staff the skills to handle many situations, helping them to build their confidence. But it’s the ongoing observation, feedback, and coaching from the manager that will make the training stick. That is why Baird Group doesn’t offer one single training session to the front line staff, without a companion session designed specifically for leaders. In the leader’s session, we don’t just review what the staff will learn. Instead, we spend the bulk of the leader session practicing how to coach the staff on their newly acquired skills. That way, the manager is building on the training they have just completed.
Once the leader has confirmed that the first two questions have been addressed effectively, they can start exploring attitude and engagement, but only after they’ve confirmed that they have done their part.