Managers learn firsthand about employee training

Learning to work like a team is highlight

When the access training advisory committee at the University Hospital of Arkansas in Little Rock established a comprehensive new training program, they knew that management buy-in would be crucial to its success, says Becky Glover, RN, MSNc, BC, clinical services manager for the clinical programs education department.

With that in mind, the committee hosted an off-campus management retreat, where not only access managers, but also administrators, directors and managers in the other clinical programs areas got a taste of what their employees were experiencing and an opportunity to add their feedback to the process, she explains.

Glover, whose department assesses, plans, implements, and evaluates training programs for all clinical programs employees, oversees a staff of seven educators as well as the coordinator and five trainers of the computer training center.

Glover says she worked with Holly Hiryak, director of admissions, and the access training advisory committee to plan the retreat.

"We took pieces of the Building Bridges orientation and presented to them what their employees were going to be doing and hearing," she says. "They received a full outline of each training module, and then we gave an overview and an example of each. After that, there was an action review, so they could react."

The managers were asked what they thought worked and what needed improvement, Glover notes. "Then we could take their input and revise the modules. With managers, you want to give them that power, you want them to buy in, to feel they have helped with the development. They liked giving their opinion, saying, Why don’t you add this?’"

Mindful of the different adult learning styles, the training advisory committee and the staff education department designed the orientation — and the retreat — to include a variety of training techniques, she says. "Some [adult learners] are visual, some are auditory, and a lot are hands-on learners. We use those different strategies in all of the information we present."

To illustrate the importance of teamwork, Glover adds, the managers were divided into two groups, given a jigsaw puzzle to put together, and told that the team that did it the fastest would win a prize. At some point in the process, the team members realize they don’t have all the pieces, she says. "People get frustrated, and they finally figure it out, or if not, the facilitator says, You might want to check with the other group.’"

An interesting side note, Glover says, is that the managers were much more competitive than were the frontline employees who did the exercise at their orientation.

Another exercise with a similar theme, she adds, had the managers write their job functions on ping pong balls, put them in a punch bowl of water, and then try to keep all the balls underwater with one hand behind their backs.

To get across some of the tedious material associated with regulatory agencies, trainers put up a large crossword puzzle, and attached letters with Velcro, Glover says. "’One down,’ for example, is the agency that oversees Medicare.’"

Some of the activities, she notes, "are kind of silly, but people remember [the information]."

To underscore the theme of professional behavior, Glover says, the participants did a role play in which someone comes in dressed inappropriately, sits down at a telephone, and begins talking, ignoring a patient who comes up for help. Later, she adds, the managers are assigned scenarios involving difficult patients and asked to act out the right way and the wrong way to handle the situation.

To further enhance the managers’ understanding of the program, she notes, the retreat planners put together three huge notebooks that were available for participants to review. "One had all of the "Strengthening Bridges" curriculum, another was on the computer training piece, and another had to do with the preceptor program," Glover says. There is a special course for the preceptors, she adds, that teaches them about adult learning styles.