Managing Employee Relationships: Uncovering Knowledge and Applying Wisdom

Vicki Noel

What are the barriers to doing this?

Leaders gain a sense of security from the knowledge that we conjure to guide us through all of the choices we must make every day.  Making a choice is a relatively simple task that moves us from uncertainty to certainty.  Many times we let our own anxiety or insecurities muck up our brains’ natural decision algorithms with clutter such as “What if people won’t like my choice?”, or the more paralyzing “What if the choice I make is wrong?”  The fear of being wrong or not perfect can present a barrier for leaders when trying to learn as much about an opportunity so that they can make the best possible decision for the organization.

Why is it important to do anyway?

The workforce we serve is counting on leadership to make decisions to ease as much uncertainty as possible.  They have jobs to do and working in uncertainty is distracting and uncomfortable.  So…we have to get over our own fear of failure because that’s our job to do so.  Each day in healthcare, the complexity of the decisions we have to make grows.  As uncertainty increases so does our need for more creative and useful knowledge to guide our choices.

How can you do it?

  1. Go to the source to get your information. Part of leadership is knowing who to go to when you want an answer to your question.  Rather than hunting around for the information you need to make your decision, if you can go to the source and get things settled quickly, then you are free to move on to the next issue needing resolved.  Be familiar with and USE the “sources” inside your organization – those who ensure that questions are answered.
  2. Capitalize on the collective wisdom.People who are wise are frequently asked for advice or commentary on how they have faced challenges and are seen as role models.  All organizations have many “wise ones” in its midst.  When faced with uncertainty that you personally don’t have the depth of knowledge to make an informed decision, seek wisdom from others.  Collective wisdom goes beyond the sum of each person’s wise thoughts and actions.  Listening to the collective wisdom allows a leader to make value-based decisions and/or ethical judgments that are consistent with the culture.
  3. Extend trust and ye shall receive. As a leader you cannot possibly know the answers to every problem and situation.  If you have a need to be “right” or “perfect” chances are you are not making many decisions or you ruminate for so long that your workforce loses faith in your ability to lead effectively.  Your “sources” and “wise ones” are all around you.  Don’t just seek them out, but trust in their information and advice, make the decision and share in the successes and consequences of that decision.  Leadership is not an island…you are in this together with those you serve.  When you extend trust it WILL be returned to you in spades.

What is an example where a leader trusted in your wisdom when making a decision and the impact of that experience on your relationship?

Log on and join the conversation at www.somc.org/blog .  We learn best from each other’s experiences.

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