By Brent Lautenschlager, RT(R)
In October I had the distinct privilege of participating in the Partners in Learning program sponsored by AHRA and GE Healthcare. I was partnered with Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale, PA. Robert Brzuchalski, their imaging services manager, was an excellent host during my week at their facility. I felt very fortunate to be able to spend an entire week with Rob, his colleagues, and the administrative leadership.
My visit to Wayne Memorial came on the heels of Ebola concerns that hit healthcare organizations throughout the United States, and Wayne Memorial responded efficiently and effectively to those concerns. It was impressive to see the entire leadership team respond in unison to deliver one message to employees to minimize alarm and confusion. Their message was unified and kept simple to assure employees and patients that they were the top priority of the organization.
Robert and I were also able to spend a good amount of time together outside of Ebola task force meetings, and we talked about policies, people, and processes. With each of these topics, I felt I needed more insight or direction. I have participated in many leadership classes and development seminars, but I have never had the opportunity to draw all the information I could from an imaging administrator that has been in the field for many years. Robert Brzuchalski was the perfect match.
Wayne Memorial’s policy and procedure manual was an open book for me to review. I spent an entire afternoon reviewing their policies to see if there was anything I could glean from them. I was able to get some good information from several policies that I have started to modify for the diagnostic imaging department at the organization that I work for.
People are the core of our industry. Without high quality employees who are focused on patient centered excellence, we cannot survive. One aspect of employee engagement is rounding. This is a topic that Robert and I spent some time discussing and investigating each others methods for rounding with our employees. Robert was actually heading up a steering committee focused on formalizing the rounding processes within their organization. I was able to attend one of these meetings with Robert, and there was a great amount of input from all members of the committee.
In the imaging department that I manage, I round with each employee on a weekly basis. I try to sit with each employee in their own work space, so that they are more at ease. I try not to focus on their problems, but rather engage with them to learn about them and their interests outside of work. This exercise helps them feel more comfortable bringing other concerns to my attention and gives me an opportunity to discover small issues before they are out of control.
Robert’s employee engagement steering committee is taking that mechanism to a completely different level to help managers who don’t have experience with one-on-one engagement with employees or who may feel out of their comfort zone. The tool that they are creating will have specific talking points for managers to help them stay on topic during rounding sessions; it gives managers a guide to navigate the conversation when it starts getting off course. I hope to learn more from Robert about their rounding model once it is fully developed.
Discovery was the main focus of my visit to Wayne Memorial Hospital. I wanted to open my mind to new processes that I was not accustomed to and learn more about processes that I currently do but wonder if I am doing right. Robert opened my eyes to a very powerful tool that he termed “Employee Norms.” This was not something Robert came up with on his own – he sat down with all of his employees together and they each brought to life the “norms” for communication among employees, “norms” for setting and achieving goals, and “norms” for showing respect for each other’s opinions. Robert is able to use this tool with versatility, and it is absolutely something I intend to work on with my imaging team. It is empowering to both managers and employees and gives a clear set of guidelines for managing any conflict within the department.
In trying to discover areas where I can improve my management skills, I discovered that a great portion of the processes that I already carry out are on the mark. Robert gave validity to many processes, particularly in regards to employee counseling and coaching, that I had questioned my abilities and methods in. Spending that week with Robert and his dedicated team was an incredible asset to me and my organization. Thank you to AHRA for making this event possible and thank you to Robert Brzuchalski and Wayne Memorial Hospital for opening their doors and providing the time for this invaluable experience.
Brent Lautenschlager, RT(R) is the diagnostic imaging manager at Yukon-Kushkokwim Health Corporation in Bethel, AK. He can be reached at email@example.com.