Target Employee’s Amazing Black Friday Pep Talk

Shift meetings are supposed to be fun and motivating.  But most are boring.  These meetings are a great opportunity to get feedback from your employees.  But most are one way communication tools.  Most importantly, these meetings should have a call to action.  Yet most fall flat.

The shift meeting below does not fall flat.  This manager understands what a shift meeting can do.  Enjoy.  It is one of the best!

It starts with this…”People of Target, brothers, sisters, hear me now,” he said. “They’re standing out there. Any moment now, those doors will be breached. Whatever comes through those gates, you will stand your ground with a smile on your face.” And it only gets better!


Staying out of trouble: the importance of progressive discipline

Progressive discipline is an essential tool for management, particularly when it’s combined with good documentation and communication practices. Progressive discipline systems are designed to help employers apply fair, consistent disciplinary decisions. Proper documentation and communication strengthen the legal defensibility of those decisions and protect the company from false accusations.

Mutually beneficial
A structured system understood by both managers and employees takes some of the guesswork out of the relationship. Employees aren’t wondering what penalties could come next, and managers can be confident in their disciplinary decisions.
The ultimate goal of correcting undesirable conduct requires communication and collaboration, particularly in the early steps of the process. Because each step is progressively more serious, the system starts with mild “penalties” such as coaching or supplemental training. The employer and the employee can focus on what will work best for the employee to improve his conduct and avoid more serious discipline down the road. Employees are often invited to participate in the problem-solving process and can work with the employer to develop a performance improvement plan (PIP). Involving the employee in the process will increase her engagement and likelihood of success.

Typical steps, essential elements
Generally, progressive discipline systems follow five steps: (1) coaching or reviewing expectations; (2) oral counseling; (3) written warning; (4) suspen¬sion; and (5) termination. Throughout all steps, there are certain elements managers must maintain. First, the employee must be informed explicitly of the unacceptable behavior and understand the specific actions that constitute the unacceptable behavior. Likewise, the employee must be made aware of what desirable behavior looks like. Perhaps most important, the employee must be informed of the manager’s expectations moving forward and the consequences of a failure to comply.
While most progressive discipline systems loosely follow the structure above, the specifics can vary. In a unionized environment, the system is usually sub¬ject to negotiation. A collective bargaining agreement (CBA) often contains detailed provisions addressing progressive discipline. Therefore, if you have union¬ized employees, your managers need to be acutely aware of the disciplinary provisions in the CBA. A violation of a contract provision will be taken very seriously by the union and could escalate to arbitration or litigation.

Proper documentation is key
The safety net provided by a progressive discipline system is inextricably dependent on proper documentation by management. With proper documentation, the system can successfully establish the employer’s effort to correct misconduct before considering more damaging disciplinary action. Then, if an employee is ultimately discharged, management can be confident in its decision. (For additional advice on the right time to terminate an employee, see Jerry Glass’ “Words on Wise Management” column “Are you really documenting performance” on pg. 5 of our March 2014 issue.)
Effective documentation before, during, and after the process serves as a solid record when facts are called into question, demonstrating that the company acted in accordance with its policies and procedures, and encouraging cooperative behavior.

All documentation not created equal
Illegible shorthand notes cannot be considered proper documentation. For your documentation to be effective, you should use your own words, write chronologically, be specific when possible, date and time stamp all documentation, provide the informa¬tion to all parties involved, and always file a copy.
Documentation should not be tedious or overwhelming. If you make it a habit to maintain simple records and follow the above guidelines, it will become second nature. Just ask around—most managers who properly document the disciplinary process have thanked themselves for it later.

Author: Cassandra Lewis a labor analyst for F&H Solutions Group.

Originally published in Words on Wise


Do we have the strength to be lead?

FollowersAs the New Year begins, I would like to wish you a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2013!

For those of you who are clients, I would also like to thank you for your continued engagement with Performancepoint! I believe you will find some exciting new things waiting for you this year in our experience together.

In that spirit, I would like to share with you some thoughts adapted from Missy Park, Founder of TitleNine, a women’s sports apparel company.

EVERYTHING I know I’ve learned from coaching others. For today’s competitive world, I thought I’d share their criteria for a good team captain (leader).

    • A captain should really WANT to be captain.
    • (S)he does not have to be the best player, but she does have to be a REALLY HARD WORKER.
    • (S)he should LISTEN CLOSELY, but she does not necessarily have to act on everything she hears.
    • (S)he should be “up” even when, ESPECIALLY when, others are down.
    • (S)he has to be able to say the things we MIGHT NOT WANT TO HEAR.
    • But most importantly, the team must recognized that in order for a leader to be successful, (S)HE ALSO HAS TO HAVE REALLY GOOD FOLLOWERS.

That is the tricky part for all of us, isn’t it? How do we support our leaders, even ones we did not vote for, we do not get to choose, even when we disagree?

Here’s to hoping that we all have the strength to be good followers.

Embedded Engagement: It is a Process

We have discussed the ways in which building a culture of engagement in the workplace is like building a healthy home environment. One necessary component in this process is, well, process.

An organization dedicated to an engaged workplace will develop its processes in a way that supports this effort. It may seem odd to talk about processes when we are discussing culture, but when we think about it, isn’t this where the rubber really hits the road in an organization?

Everything is process in the workplace. Almost nothing gets done without it. And in this maze of competing processes lies one of the greatest opportunities for engagement to become lost, and never to be found again. There are even processes for shaping the processes.

Sadly, in the situations that provide the great opportunities for engagement, this opportunity is often overlooked or ignored. This is because these situations often involve urgent or unexpected developments.

They can lead to a reactionary response, designed to ensure secrecy and “hierarchical” behaviors. However, if the mission and culture of the organization are not being considered, and all employees who may create value included, the result may in fact not be responsive or confidential, because it will lead to further problems down the road.

Take, for example, two companies with urgent customer satisfaction issues. Both companies consider themselves to be dedicated to engagement, valuing the benefits of an engaged workplace to their organization.

However, the first company responds to the situation by bringing together a small group of individuals, on a “need to know” basis. The conversation in the room is mostly one-sided, and focused on gaining agreement, assigning blame, and protecting those not directly accountable from the incident being deflected toward them.

This process is being conducted quickly, so the organization can get back to its normal discussions, engagement practices, and celebration of those things that are going well. But does it really speak to engagement?

In the second company, a different approach is taken. There is sincere interest in not only solving the immediate customer problem, but creating a learning experience to ensure this customer, as well as others, have increased confidence in the company in the future.

Discussions include all employees who can contribute, and whose work impacts customers like this one. There is a dialog in which everyone is allowed to participate, and a solution is agreed upon and implemented.

Leadership is informed, the customer is made aware of the solution and the company’s commitment, and the developments are shared with all employees who support customer relationships. In this company, the problem is not likely to occur again, and if it does, employees will be better prepared to handle it.

This is one of the situations in which it is most important to “walk the talk” about engagement.

There are many other types of processes that should be examined to be sure they support the engagement effort. These include:

  • employee selection and on-boarding
  • employee development
  • performance reviews
  • strategic planning
  • budgeting
  • product launch
  • customer relationship management
  • project management
  • crisis management
  • community relations
  • media relations
  • meeting and event planning
  • employee recognition
  • employee surveys

In what ways does your organization design processes with engagement in mind? In what circumstances does this not happen? Do these circumstances usually have to do with unplanned or emergency situations? How can you better use these opportunities to create better results through the engagement of your employees?

12 Best Practices for Making Hospitals Great Places to Work

Written by Leigh Page

It is time to re-engage hospital staff. According to a 2010 report by Press Ganey Associates, 45 percent of hospital employees consider themselves “distanced from or discontent with their current work.” Here are 12 best practices to turn that sad statistic around and nurture a fully engaged workforce.

1. Culture eats strategy. Vincent McCorkle, president and CEO of Akron (Ohio) General Health System, is fond of saying that “culture eats strategy.” He means that while strategy is key for a successful organization, it can only produce short-term compliance if there is no strong employee culture. All the strategic planning, launching of new initiatives and use of sophisticated metrics in the world won’t be successful without a fully engaged workforce.

2. Draw from a ‘well of credibility.’ Any effort to engage employees should be treated as a valuable investment, says Kevin Haeberle, senior vice president and senior advisor at Integrated Healthcare Strategies in Kansas City, Mo. “Whenever you are engaging in mutual trust, you are putting water into the well,” he says. “How deep that well is begins to matter when you need to take water out.” For example, you have to postpone annual pay increases, cut back on benefits or make some other unusual demand that is going to be trying on your staff. “If you hit hard times and your well is shallow,” he says, “you’ll be in for a major negative reaction.”

3. Be available. “When the hospital starts losing money, do all the top executives hide in their offices, no longer to be seen by anyone?” asks Brad Federman, president of Performancepoint in Memphis, Tenn. This is poisonous for employee morale, he says. Left without any information, employees start getting fearful, invent scenarios and are distracted from their work. To keep in touch, Mr. McCorkle holds regular “town hall meetings” for all shifts at his hospital. “We talk about aspirations and achievement in there,” he says.

Availability is crucial up and down the chain of command, says Vicki Hess, RN, an employee engagement expert in Owings Mills, Md., and author of “The Nurse Manager’s Guide to Hiring, Firing & Inspiring.” A common complaint from employees is, “My boss is in meetings all the time,” Ms. Hess says. She advises managers to maintain an open-door policy and spend time with the staff. When the manager cannot always be personally available, there should be other ways to keep in touch with the staff, such as calling in or stopping by between meetings, she says.

4. Provide achievable goals. “People respond to goals,” Mr. McCorkle says. For example, orthopedic surgeons are famous for ignoring requests to consider less expensive implants, but if they were told, “Saving x-amount of money on implants means we would be able to fund these specific projects,” they would more likely respond. Having something to work toward “narrows the gap between itch and scratch,” Mr. McCorkle says. He wants all goals to be ambitious, adding: “If we don’t set high goals we will never achieve them.” For example, the proper policy for dealing with patient falls is to set a goal of absolutely no falls with injuries.

5. Be transparent. Mr. Haeberle says the traditional approach is for management to be secretive. “If you were going to lay off people, you would announce it just before it happened,” he says. The reasoning was people would stop working hard if they knew, but in fact, most people will continue to do their jobs well, he says. Indeed, Mr. Federman found that hospitals in financial straits during the recession fared better if they were very open about it.

When Mr. McCorkle meets with employees at Akron General, he gives them “total amnesty” to talk about anything they want, even if they don’t like his policies. “Transparency is essential,” Ms. Hess says, adding that when staff know and understand management’s objectives, they will be more likely to share them. For example, a nurse who is tempted to give away medical supplies to patients when they go home might not do so if she knew her department was struggling to balance its budget. “Shared knowledge can be a powerful tool,” Ms. Hess says.

6. Nurture mutual respect. Under an older management style, the CEO says, “I expect you to respect me,” Mr. Haeberle says. But if workers are treated as equals, they are more likely to be engaged, he says. “When I respect who you are, I try to understand why you think the way you do,” he says. At Akron General, Mr. McCorkle insists that employees call him “Vince.” He thinks they are more likely to be frank and open that way. “If someone can say, ‘Hey, Vince,’ they are going to tell you what’s on their mind,” he says.

7. Be supportive. A big part of nurturing respect is being supportive. Ms. Hess says managers should assume employees are doing the right thing until proven otherwise. For example, when a patient complains about an employee, assume the employee is innocent until proven otherwise, but all the while seriously check into what was going on. “You have got to ask questions and find out what happened,” she says.

8. Link employees to the mission. “Employees need to feel that what they do connects to the overall goals of the organization,” Ms. Hess says. “If the manager tells me, ‘You have to do this because it’s our new rule,’ that doesn’t make me feel good about it,” she says. She advises using the vision and values of the organization as a roadmap to guide employees.

Mr. McCorkle tells this story about the power of the mission: A janitor sweeping the floor at Cape Canaveral at night is asked what he is doing. “I’m helping to put a man on the moon,” he says. “Healthcare is a calling. It means embracing something bigger than yourself,” McCorkle says. “There needs to be a passion and an energy for all the things that the mission is about.”

9. Create an effective team. Healthcare relies on relationships within a team, Ms. Hess says. The manager’s guidance can make the team more productive. “Managing an effective team means promoting a high level of trust and comfort with conflict,” she says. To be effective, team members need to speak up, identify their differences and work through them without hostility.

10. Let employees do their work. Ms. Hess says the hospital’s goal should be helping each employee find his or her “professional paradise,” where they are satisfied, energized and productive. Mr. Haeberle says managers who respect employees’ opinions recognize there can be a variety of ways to accomplish a task. He advises management to get out of the way and let employees do their work. “When I ask you to do something, I’m going to assume it’s going to get done,” he says. If the employee doesn’t do what he said he’d do, the pact is damaged. “The mutual trust has declined,” he says.

11. Give employees choices. Employees who are given choices are going to be more invested in the work they do. It’s not always possible to do this in a hospital environment where work is often based on prescribed protocols, but there are still many opportunities, Mr. Federman says. Rather than saying, “We can’t do that,” leaders should be saying, “How can we do this and still follow the regulations?”

“If there is a way to meet employees’ pressing concerns, use it, even if it’s a little unconventional,” Ms. Hess says. For example, employees may prefer to work extra hours rather use locum tenens nurses, but taking over one eight-hour shift may be too daunting for a full-time employee. One solution might be to cut the shift into two four-hour blocks, which full-timers would be more likely to accommodate.

12. Lead by example. Every two weeks, Mr. McCorkle has a meeting with his top-level managers. “We talk about barriers and roadblocks,” he says. “People commit to a goal by signing a pledge.” When his staff meets with more people down the organizational chain, they apply the same principles. He says top management’s example is like a wave going through the whole organization.

See original article at Becker’s Hospital Review

Mad Men and Engagement

Mad Men…What a great show.  That is what everyone is saying.  I have watched it a couple of times on the road and it is good.  However, one of episodes shares a leadership lesson.  To share the lesson one of the characters told an Aesop’s Fable.  Do you remember this one…?

The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveler coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveler to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin.” So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveler. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveler wrap his cloak around him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveler, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.

Possible morals of the story:

Kindness effects more than severity.

Persuasion is better than Force.

However, I think we can take the moral further. We cannot engage those who hide or spend their time protecting themselves.  Our job as leaders is to bring out the person and their passion; and we can only facilitate this when we encourage our associates to express themselves.  Of course, we need to be confidant and comfortable enough with ourselves so that we are not threatened by such expressions.  Imagine the transparency…the feedback…the success!!!

Conflict Can Run Deep

I was recently mediating a situation between two individuals.  It was a very difficult situation because the problem had been going on for a long time, approximately fourteen months.  These two individuals were fairly senior in the organization.  However, their relationship was in turmoil.  These two executives were acting like children and it became such an issue that the Human Resource group asked for help.  Unfortunately, they waited a little too late.  I am not exaggerating when I say that it would have been difficult for the situation to have been worse.  The only thing these two people had not done is hit each other, although some threatening language had been used.  One of the executives actually oriented one of their new employees by sharing negative information about the other executive, coaching them about what to look for, and then asking the employee to sit in on meetings as a witness. 

There were two reasons why this effort was going to be a challenge at best.  The first reason was a lack of trust.  So much time had passed, with conflicts occurring without resolution or even understanding.  Each of these individuals needed answers about what was going on.  And true to form, both of the individuals made sense of these conflicts from their own point of view.  To create meaning, they had to make many assumptions and fill in the blanks that existed.  They chose this path, rather than listening to each other and trying to see things from the other person’s perspective.  Amazingly, human nature generally shows that under stress and in ambiguous situations, we fill in the blanks incorrectly or exaggerate; usually toward the negative.  In every situation, these individuals infused negative motives on the other person and provided opinions as facts to support their perspective.  They also saw themselves as innocent, and did not seem to take responsibility. After fourteen months of this self-indulgent behavior, it is easy to see how they could not trust each other.  Each saw the other person as a caricature, a villain if you will.  And they saw themselves as saints.  Their own self-interest was a barrier to building a relationship with the other person. 

Self-interest was not the only reason why this was such a difficult situation.  We should ask why they had never worked through these issues.  Why did they let this go so far?  Why did the organization as a whole allow this to keep festering?  What prompted these problems in the first place? 

 A number of factors had an impact.  Politics, reporting structure, geographic distance, dissimilar professional perspectives, personality and differences in communication style all played a role.  But they created a bigger issue…Fear.  Yes, the four letter word.  Both of these individuals were fearful of something.  One of them was new to the company and their role.  They had a lot riding on their entrance into the company and wanted everything to go perfectly as planned.  The other individual, who had just been told they were now reporting the first individual, felt as though they were losing freedom, and their relationship with the president of the company was being impacted by this new player.  He saw his career being impacted by a new player and wanted to be viewed as he was previously.  Both individuals acted out of fear or risk rather than opportunity. 

 The further down the road they went, more was at stake, especially when they painted the other individual as the villain and themselves as a saint.  If they were to resolve this conflict, both of them would have to acknowledge their own challenges and faults.  Fear can became a larger obstacle when trying to resolve a problem.  This was added to the concerns that already existed; because this had gone on so long and had become very public, they knew people were watching, including the president.  While we would like to believe that this would create the proper pressure to work through the issues, it actually creates the need for some people to protect themselves. 

 Unfortunately, that is what occurred in this situation.  One of the individuals rose to the occasion and the other individual engaged in self protection, negative attacks, and breaking agreements.  The irony is that this individual was afraid of looking bad, and in the end they lost the respect of a number of people because of their behavior.  If they had resolved the conflict, they would have improved their image in the organization, their relationship with the president, and positively impacted their career and organization. 

Adapted from Employee Engagement: A Roadmap for Creating Profits, Optimizing Performance, and Increasing Loyalty