Given the dynamic nature of healthcare facilities, healthcare managers have uniquely challenging roles. Spending some time considering what elements can be added to the processes of management can help your facility run smoothly and successfully. A few suggestions include:
- Keeping up with new technology. This ranges from privacy and security technology to record management technology, but don’t forget the many project management technologies available. Familiarizing yourself and your staff with tools that will keep everyone on the same page of multi-phase projects will help things to unfold smoothly, especially during transitions. Make time for multiple training sessions, rather than one long day, to help facilitate mastery and long-term familiarity.
- Actively create open communication norms. This goes beyond the simple monthly email update: work with HR or an outside consulting firm to evaluate your current communication structure and norms, and to suggest ways to improve. Good communication is not simply an accident, and it should be treated as a direct goal, rather than a byproduct of a healthy work environment. Even if you think your organization communicates well, chances are, some employees are bearing the responsibility more than others, which can lead to burnout. In a field where people’s lives are literally on the line, effective, clear, collaborative communications at all levels is vital. Similarly…
- Show that you value transparency. Sometimes, gossip happens just because we’re human; other times, it’s the beginning stage of a paranoid work environment. Proactively curtail the potential for paranoia by being transparent in your communication and management style. Assume that giving less information at certain times than others will be read as having potential meanings it doesn’t have, and draft communication accordingly.
- Model the importance of mental health care. Medical providers and staff are far from exempt from mental stress and mental illness–and unfortunately, neither are medical care facilities exempt from stigma related to mental health care. Develop plans for mental health days, or other options that give all staff the space and time to prioritize their mental health. Pursue your own mental health.
- Make your open-door policy real. Especially in a large facility, rather than always staying in your office–which might be practically inaccessible to certain staff–announce times that you will be doing administrative tasks in more accessible spaces. Show that you are around and available to your staff at all levels, and that you are happy to take time for one-on-one meetings.
- Keep all policies updated, accessible, and available on an internal server. Updating your staff via email is great for announcing policy changes, but emails become difficult to reference later. Create a living document that gets updated with every policy change, and is easily referenced when staff need it.
- Take responsibility for any mistakes you make. One of the easiest ways to gain and keep the respect of your staff is to be consistent in admitting when you’re wrong. This includes admitting when you may have made mistakes estimating the time projects or tasks would take.
- Provide adequate training, and follow up by asking for feedback. Everyone has sat in on useless seminars, and felt after like their time has been wasted. Avoid this by offering tailored training aimed at different skill sets or knowledge levels that staff can self-select into, and then ask staff for feedback on what parts of trainings they’d like to learn more about. Consider creating a badge system that staff can pursue that will segue into career development and advancement.
Last, but not least, connecting with other healthcare managers–particularly those who are in a position to mentor you–will help you feel supported, which in turn will make your workplace thrive. Consider joining a healthcare management network in your region, or attend conferences you might have overlooked. Just like the medical specialists you work with, your skills are saving lives: invest in them accordingly.