Creating “WOW” Experiences for Staff and Patients

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Geroux_SandraBy Sandy Geroux, MS

What makes us want to do things for others? For that matter, what makes us want to go far beyond what is expected so we actually get others to say, “WOW!”?

Answering that question is what true leadership is all about: the art of getting people to go above and beyond for us, our practices, their co-workers, and our patients. In fact, it’s really not complicated. Although leadership is not easy, it’s actually pretty simple if we look at it in terms of what motivates human beings to help each other.

That “help” could mean something as simple as giving directions or making someone smile when they are having a terrible day… or it could be as big as curing cancer or creating the next technology breakthrough. But our desire to help sometimes gets lost in the minutiae that consume us on a daily basis. We forget that we are collaborative beings, with hearts and souls that seek to accomplish one major goal: to matter, to make a difference in this world. So, in our personal lives, we seek situations where we are able to do things that connect with who we are and what we believe in; where we don’t feel like “just another number;” and where we do not just mindlessly go through the motions.

However, in many workplaces, leaders have to be reminded that workers often are not in control of these factors, so it is their responsibility to avoid creating an environment in which their people are simply creating motion without emotion, performance without purpose or “improvement” without impact. In other words, they must keep their people from disengaging and simply enduring until they can get back to a place where they feel more important.

In world-class organizations, leaders know they are able to change ordinary workplaces, where employees have to go because they need to make a paycheck, into WOWplaces, where people love to go because they know they make a difference! These leaders enable people to succeed, make them feel important, and help them realize that they matter by keeping in mind that all of us have an incredible opportunity to make a difference every day for the 5, 10, 50, or 5,000 people who work with them. In order to do that, they draw upon and hone the skills that enable them to treat their staff members with the same dignity and respect that they expect those members to deliver to their patients. In other words, they model the behavior they wish to see in others.

To help with this, I have identified five WOWplace Rules, representing five key leadership skill sets, that you can take back to your workplace immediately to create or continue an exciting chain of world-class engagement and a world-class patient experience. They are:

  1. A WOWplace is Safe: emotionally safe to encourage people to freely share knowledge and ideas.
  2. A WOWplace is Respectful: WOW leaders don’t demand respect; they command it by going first and showing respect to everyone around them.
  3. A WOWplace is Human… not Humanoid: we must be more human, empathetic, and relatable to our people in order to eliminate the “Us vs. Them” mentality so prevalent today.
  4. A WOWplace is Innovative, Creative, and Fun: avoiding complacency and eliminating excuses are crucial for creating WOW experiences; so is allowing staff to have fun at work.
  5. A WOWplace is Rewarding: if we don’t want our staff to focus on the paycheck as their sole reason for working, leaders cannot focus on the paycheck as their sole means of reward. Rewards and recognition must be individualized, constant, and ongoing.

Please join me for my AHRA Spring Conference presentation on Wednesday, March 16, Leadership is Not Easy, But it is Actually Simple: 5 Rules For Being a WOW Leader, where we will review the WOWplace Rules and use an innovative leadership assessment tool called “WOW Leadership BINGO!” to help you quickly assess your strengths, as well as any gaps in either your leadership skill sets or your consistency in applying those skills to everyday workplace situations.

I look forward to meeting you in Chicago!

Sandy Geroux, MS is the CEO (Founder and Chief Entertainment Officer) at WOWplace International, LLC . She can be contacted here.


  1. Very interesting article. Is there any chance Creating the WOW Experience will be offered in Nashville this summer? It should be given careful consideration to reach a wider audience.

  2. Hi, Phyllis – Thank you for your kind comments… and yes! I will be presenting this topic in Nashville, as well! I presented it last year in Las Vegas – and it was a hit! Please come to the session and introduce yourself when you’re in Nashville! Looking forward to meeting you!

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