Pearls of Wisdom from ED Leaders

Ten tips from an ED manager

Emergency medicine presents unique challenges, including leadership, people skills, time management, and setting boundaries in a job that has none. Each month, ED Management will ask an ED leader to share words of wisdom to help our readers face these and other challenges. This issue features recommendations from Sandra M. Schneider, MD, FACEP, professor and chair of the department of emergency medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY.

1. Listen. "That is largely your job. Many people will want your ear and all should have it. Many come to vent, to relieve the stress, and fewer come for action. Listen actively. Write it down. Let the person know you have heard them."

2. Work hard and make sure people see you work hard. "Walk through the ED on your way to the office and back. Don’t just do busy work, delegate that out. Work on the real work. Never call attention to the fact you are working hard, but just do it . . . you will be noticed."

3. Filter information. Look for patterns. "A single complaint about someone is information; two or three similar complaints is a problem. The problem may be the one that is cited, or may be a more general one causing everyone to dislike a person, but it’s still a problem.

"Remember, your feedback will always be felt more harshly than it is meant. Don’t destroy someone, just mold them. Your success is measured in how many good employees you can make and retain."

4. Information is valuable. "Share what you can and keep absolutely confidential what you cannot. There can be no leaks. At the same time, recognize [that] everyone will want to know when something is happening."

5. Don’t be too hasty when making decisions. "Some decisions need to grow over time, more information may be needed, and sometimes it just needs to percolate for a while. But, let people know when they can expect an answer."

6. Let your staff make as many of the decisions as possible, but always know which ones only you can make.

7. Sit down, have a cup of coffee, and just "shoot the breeze. "Find out what is really going on with people. Let them know you are human. Don’t forget to thank and to praise. You cannot praise too much."

8. Be fair. "Treat everyone (and I mean everyone) like you would like to be treated. Assume everyone knows how to do their job and wants to do it well. You can’t always be equitable, but you can be fair. If a decision bothers you, it just might be wrong."

9. Find out what the hospital (staff, patients) wants, then do it. "Handle complaints early."

10. Above all, have fun. "This is a position that can actually change things — do so wisely and rejoice when things are accomplished. Few people in their life will be able to enjoy their job. Be glad you can."