The topic of rounding is nothing new for healthcare leaders. For years we’ve talked about purposeful rounding. It’s important to ask questions that focus on what is going well and what they need. But be sure you are ready to listen to what employees tell you during rounds.
A few years ago, I was working with a hospital that was under financial strain. Holding the line on spending was a constant message from administration to management. Staff were fed up with hearing about the budget. At the same time, managers were expected to round daily with a scripted question, “Do you have what you need to do your job today?” Day after day the staff reported, “No, we do not. We don’t have bedside tables in several rooms, not enough chairs for visitors, and only one blood pressure machine works.”
The manager told me her hands were tied saying, “I have to stay within the budget. There is no money for new equipment.”
I scheduled an appointment with the CEO for lunchtime and asked him to walk with me to that nursing unit. We observed patients eating lunch with their trays on their laps because they didn’t have bedside tables. I also pointed out that visitors were standing at the bedside. He couldn’t help but notice that staff made little eye contact with him and avoided him.
Mixed Messages from Management
When we got back to his office, the CEO said he was appalled that the manager hadn’t ordered new equipment. I told him she felt she couldn’t because of the constant budget message, he turned bright red and got to his feet saying, “I’m going right up there and telling the staff that I am personally ordering new equipment today.”
I asked him to call the manager and let her know she is well within her right to order essential equipment and encourage her to make the announcement. After all, she was the one on the frontline every day. He needed to support the manager and let her be the one to tell the team that they were heard, and new equipment was on the way.
When we ask our staff if they have what they need, we need to be ready to offer support, not excuses.Employee Engagement, Leadership, management, Rounding