Managers are building bridges to leadership

Overall goal is patient and staff satisfaction

The latest segment of the University Hospital of Arkansas’s comprehensive education program brings forward the themes of teamwork, communication, and conflict resolution, focusing on how those concepts can be used by the hospital’s directors, managers, and supervisors.

"The whole goal is to improve patient and staff satisfaction through strong leaders," says Becky Glover, RN, MNSc, manager of staff education and computer training for the Little Rock-based facility.

Building strong leaders

The program, Building Bridges III, focuses on leadership competencies developed from focus groups comprised of administrators, managers, and staff from different hospital departments, she explains. "They came together to decide on curriculum, what qualities they thought strong leaders should exhibit."

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality inventory is used as a framework for personal development and to provide tools the managers can use in working with the employees they lead, Glover notes. Among other things, Myers-Briggs is used as "part of a bridge to talk about the ways that different types of people communicate."

The program, she adds, looks at the question: "How do I, as a leader, get my team to work together more efficiently?"

Building Bridges III is geared toward any clinical program department leader, Glover says, which in the parlance of University Hospital, means "any area that has anything to do with patients."

Participants in the recently completed program pilot included a revenue integrity specialist and a point-of-service coordinator from the access department, as well as nurse managers, a pharmacy manager, and a respiratory therapy manager, among others, she says. The next session, scheduled for this month, already is overbooked.

Building Bridges I is designed for new employees, while Building Bridges II is for existing staff, Glover notes. "They’re all really based on the same concepts and have evolved into these different [applications]," she adds. "The basis is teamwork, communication, and resolving conflict."

When participants look at how to motivate employees, they are introduced to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to help them determine where their employees are coming from, she explains.

"We all have the same basic needs, but some are at different levels," she adds. "To use an extreme example, if someone doesn’t have enough money to buy food, that — rather than the thrill of the job — will motivate that person. We’re looking at what motivates people and what creates job satisfaction — what needs to be in place before you even start talking about job satisfaction."

In the conflict resolution segment, Glover says, participants are given scenarios based on situations that actually have occurred at the hospital and are asked to do a "force-field analysis."

In a force-field analysis, she says, one looks at the forces that are opposing and acting as barriers in a given situation and at those that are acting toward resolution.

"They decide which to pay attention to and which not to," Glover adds. "We get them to look at conflicts in terms of defining what the true problem is and working toward a solution rather than affixing blame."

In another part of Building Bridges III, participants talk about organizational change and the role of the leader, she says. "We go over patient satisfaction reports, and we will be starting a staff satisfaction survey, which will be another indicator leaders can use."

At the beginning of the program, participants are told that they will be asked to use some of the skills they’re learning to address a problem or issue in their job environment, she says. "On the last day, they do a case study and show something they’ve done in the workplace. We vote on the best in show’ of the case studies."

The person selected receives a plaque inscribed with his or her name and the name of the department to keep until the next session, when it is passed on to the next winner, Glover adds.

Participants also take away some tools they can use in the workplace, including a work preference inventory that is based on Myers-Briggs concepts, but focused more specifically on jobs, she says. "It gives the employees some feedback on where their strengths are and how they like to work."

The three-day program is scheduled every other Friday during a five-week program, Glover notes, because it’s hard to lure managers away from their responsibilities for three days in a row. Because of its hands-on, interactive nature, the sessions are limited to 30 people, she adds.

Although attendance is voluntary at present, the program has received a great deal of support from the hospital’s COO and CEO, who are strongly encouraging directors, department heads, managers, and supervisors to participate, Glover says. "We’re hoping it will become mandatory."

There also is the possibility that Building Bridges III will be marketed outside University Hospital in the future, she notes. "We’ve had some requests already."

[Editor’s note: Becky Glover can be reached at (501) 686-9345.]