Four No-Cost Strategies To Improve Performance And Reduce Turnover
So many organizations are struggling with staffing shortages. Healthcare is no exception. Recently I keynoted a regional nursing symposium focused on trying to understand and address these difficult issues. It was sobering to hear the statistics.
Organizations are trying everything they can think of to attract and retain good people. Flexible schedules, bonuses, perks, pay raises, the kitchen sink. While these are important, they don’t get at the real issue; leadership culture.
Human-Centered Relational Leadership Culture
A recent study in Nursing Management Journal suggested that a more relational, human-centered leadership paradigm can have a stronger positive impact on engagement and turnover then all these other tactical interventions.
This is good news because, like my friend Marcus Engel said on my podcast interview, “Nurses (good employees) don’t grow on trees. And neither does money.”
Change Your Approach To Get Different Outcomes
Building a more human-centered relational leadership paradigm starts with changing how we interact with our employees, especially during difficult situations.
Recently I was coaching a nurse manager who was struggling with staffing shortages in her department. One of her nurses was underperforming. She was missing critical documentation, struggling to be on time, and making uncharacteristic errors. The nurse manager needed to confront the behavior, but she was worried that if she did, the nurse would quit. I’m sure many managers can relate to this dilemma.
I worked with this manager to develop an approach that was both compassionate and accountable; that embraced a human-centered relational paradigm while also upholding critical standards of care for this hospital; otherwise known as Compassionate Accountability. Here’s how she approached the nurse:
“I’m feeling torn between two things and I want help finding a solution. I’ve observed some gaps in your performance that are causing quality concerns, but I’m afraid if I talk to you about it, you might quit. I’m accountable for the safety and quality of this clinic so I can’t let it slide. And I’m committed to your success here. How do you feel about what’s going on?”
Four No-Cost Strategies to Improve Performance and Reduce Turnover
Before I reveal how the nurse responded, I’d like to unpack four important steps this nurse manager took to embrace compassionate accountability for a more human-centered relational leadership paradigm.
- Get vulnerable. Then nurse manager disclosed her own struggle. While this may seem risky, the purpose of vulnerability is to create a human connection and combat the inherent power differential in these kinds of relationships. It reduces defensiveness and invites openness.
- Separate the person from the behavior. The nurse manager clearly described the performance problem without any threats, personal attacks, blaming, or passive-aggressive undertones.
- Take responsibility for your behaviors. The nurse manager owned her responsibilities; to uphold the standards of care AND help per employee achieve success.
- Get curious. The nurse manager asked the underperforming nurse how they saw the situation. Without being curious, you might never know what’s really going on or how to help.
The nurse didn’t quit. In fact, this nurse responded by thanking her manager, disclosing some personal issues she was struggling with, and asking for help. Together, they put together an action plan to help this nurse address the performance problems. Her performance improved, her attitude improved, and she became a champion of quality in her department. The manger was shocked by the positive ripple effects in her department. Now she tries to approach every situation with compassionate accountability. It costs her nothing, and the benefits are priceless.
Employees want to feel connected, cared for, challenged, and involved. They want to know you believe in them and will invest in their success. Compassionate Accountability is the process of building connection and getting results, no compromises. This changes culture.