Engaged Employees Need Engaged Managers

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , April 11, 2011

I believe these "warning signs" and "early warning systems" – however valid the advice – raise more questions about management than they do about workers. If working conditions at your healthcare facility have deteriorated to the point where "busy and excited" employees arouse suspicion and concern, you need new management. In fact, the very idea that a union could organize "behind your back" – as the title states -- positively screams that management has failed to engage employees.   

Let's be clear. I'm not rapping Ricciardi or the Advisor, which I browse every day. What they're saying is exactly right. In fact, Ricciardi has also said on the Advisor that the best way to keep union organizers out is to "consistently practice good, solid, fair employee relations," which he believes can only be accomplished by thorough management training. Bingo!

Employee engagement is not an exact science, thank God, because human beings aren't robots. Each employee brings to the job his or her own personality, skills, values, demands, concerns, and pet peeves. Nonetheless, there are some universal truths that apply to the vast majority of people. For example, treat your employees with courtesy and respect. Make yourself available. Give them your time. Learn their names. Encourage them to voice their concerns and listen when they do. Try to act promptly on those concerns, and if you can't resolve the problem, explain why you cannot.

If management demonstrates a genuine belief that employees are valuable team members on a shared mission, then managers have nothing to fear when their backs are turned. We talk a lot about employee engagement. We should concentrate more on management engagement.   

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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3 comments on "Engaged Employees Need Engaged Managers"

Mitzi Doolen (12/21/2011 at 8:54 PM)
So if the HR department won't help the situation and have gone other dirstions for help? Then what? Employee feels like they have NO support, no way to express themselves, almost feeling trapped. Where are they to go? If a union can fight for the employee, why not have a union available to do that? It is difficult enough to have managers or others hear your complaints, but not to anything to help you solve the problem, isn't fair to the employee.

Rhonda S. Bell, DBA (4/12/2011 at 9:23 AM)
Hi, John You alluded to the many things that employees bring to work. One thing that was left out is their spirit. However, if management has not been engaged the spirit of the employee may be broken or being asked to be checked at the door. We are made with a body, mind, and spirit and all need to be nurtured at work. But do managers know how to nurture the spirit at work? Betty has a great point that there are great clinicians that are placed in management positions with very little leadership training or knowledge. Perhaps the wise option is to provide emotional and spiritual intelligence training so management does know how to engage and be in touch with their employees. Thank you for bringing this topic to the discussion. Inspired and kind regards, Rhonda

Betty (4/11/2011 at 5:42 PM)
You are making a GREAT assumption that the managers have the basic skill set to deal with necessities such as: communication on a 360 level, strategies for team building, holding themselves and other accountable, resolving conflict before it escalates, knowing how to staff, plan, budget, etc Excellent clinicians are often promoted into Management by the stoke of the pen changing their title .. not by giving them the skill they need to survive in their roles of immense responsibility for patient safety, employee engagement and financial alignment. We defeat their success in the role by not properly preparing managers for their role




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