Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: Listen IntentlyPosted on January 14, 2018

Kara Redoutey, MBA & Service Leadership Team Members

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

When a colleague or patient is talking to you, have you been guilty of preparing your response while they are talking?  I know I have done this in the past.  When we start preparing our answer while attempting to listen to what the person is saying, we fail to hear or comprehend fully what the other person is trying to say. We can’t communicate effectively if we aren’t entirely sure what the other person has said to us.  Research suggests that 70-80% of our time we are engaging in some form of communication with 55% of our time spent listening.  Given those statistics, you may be surprised to learn this one: most humans only remember approximately 25% of what they heard.  It’s no wonder that we seriously struggle to listen intently and communicate effectively.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Listening is an incredible skill you can hone and develop and is extremely important to effectively communicate with our colleagues and patients. Listening impacts how effective we are at our jobs and the quality of the relationships we have with others. If we want to improve the perceptions of others that we care, we must practice giving the gift of careful listening. Careful or “active” listening is when you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words the other person is saying, but use all of your senses to understand the complete message.

How can you do it? 

SOMC follows the GIFT framework to assist us in remembering to give the gift of active listening.

  1. G – Give your full attention.  Look at the person directly, clear your mind of distracting thoughts and focus on the other person intently. Avoid preparing your next response, but do take notes to ensure you have captured the key points of the conversation.
  2. I – Indicate you are listening.  Nod and smile, using positive facial expressions. Use verbal cues to indicate you are still listening and ask probing questions related to what the person is saying. It’s important to remember that some research suggests that 93% of what we communicate comes from our facial expressions and tone of voice.
  3. F – Feedback, feedback.  Let the other person know you want to make sure you have heard and comprehended the conversation correctly. Repeat back to them the key points of the talk. Ask the other person if you missed anything important.
  4. T – Try not to judge or interrupt. Try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. Be empathetic. Interruptions waste time, frustrate the other person and limit our full understanding of the conversation.  Allow the other person to finish making their points before starting to talk.

What are your tips for listening intently?


Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: Listen IntentlyPosted on January 14, 2018

Kara Redoutey, MBA & Service Leadership Team Members

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

When a colleague or patient is talking to you, have you been guilty of preparing your response while they are talking?  I know I have done this in the past.  When we start preparing our answer while attempting to listen to what the person is saying, we fail to hear or comprehend fully what the other person is trying to say. We can’t communicate effectively if we aren’t entirely sure what the other person has said to us.  Research suggests that 70-80% of our time we are engaging in some form of communication with 55% of our time spent listening.  Given those statistics, you may be surprised to learn this one: most humans only remember approximately 25% of what they heard.  It’s no wonder that we seriously struggle to listen intently and communicate effectively.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Listening is an incredible skill you can hone and develop and is extremely important to effectively communicate with our colleagues and patients. Listening impacts how effective we are at our jobs and the quality of the relationships we have with others. If we want to improve the perceptions of others that we care, we must practice giving the gift of careful listening. Careful or “active” listening is when you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words the other person is saying, but use all of your senses to understand the complete message.

How can you do it? 

SOMC follows the GIFT framework to assist us in remembering to give the gift of active listening.

  1. G – Give your full attention.  Look at the person directly, clear your mind of distracting thoughts and focus on the other person intently. Avoid preparing your next response, but do take notes to ensure you have captured the key points of the conversation.
  2. I – Indicate you are listening.  Nod and smile, using positive facial expressions. Use verbal cues to indicate you are still listening and ask probing questions related to what the person is saying. It’s important to remember that some research suggests that 93% of what we communicate comes from our facial expressions and tone of voice.
  3. F – Feedback, feedback.  Let the other person know you want to make sure you have heard and comprehended the conversation correctly. Repeat back to them the key points of the talk. Ask the other person if you missed anything important.
  4. T – Try not to judge or interrupt. Try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. Be empathetic. Interruptions waste time, frustrate the other person and limit our full understanding of the conversation.  Allow the other person to finish making their points before starting to talk.

What are your tips for listening intently?


Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: Make a ConnectionPosted on January 7, 2018

Kara Redoutey, MBA & SOMC Service Leadership Team Members

Why are leaders hesitant to make a connection?

Time is typically the culprit.  We don’t believe we have the time to make a connection.  The interactions with patients are sometimes short and a lot of business information sharing has to occur in the interaction.  The feeling of limited time often limits our own ability and dedication to making a connection with our patients.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

KevinMD.com stated that…“Often patients want to feel that you are there for them.  Sometimes they are not looking for lengthy discussions and overly involved detailed information.  They want simple, accurate and informative information that is pertinent to them and presented in a genuine manner.  They want to feel that they matter, and any questions they may have are not insignificant.”  If a patient has made a connection with you, however small, they may be more apt to share important information about their disease state and may be more truthful about how they are complying with their medication regimen at home.  The more information we have, the better we can treat the patient’s condition and coach them to help themselves in the healing process.  Building a connection can also increase patient satisfaction and increase your own satisfaction with the difference you are making in the world.   Making a simple connection with patients has more positive benefits than we can really fathom and we do indeed have the ability to make connections in short amounts of time.  But we have to consistently show empathy and warmth in our interactions.  

How can you do it? 

  1.  Look for something that you can connect with while interacting with the customer. Personal clues like family, sports, hobbies and anything stated that you can cue into that shows you are paying attention and the person is special.
  2. Remember the little things.  Any time you can personalize your care/service with what you have learned about your customer, do it.
  3. Small talk is bigger than you think.  Simple conversation can set the patient at ease and make their experience much better.  You can also learn important information through chats with your customer.

 How do you make a connection with your customers/patients?


Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: Introduce YourselfPosted on January 2, 2018

Kara Redoutey, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

Introducing yourself seems so simple, yet we often forget to do it when interacting with new colleagues at work or with patients throughout our day.  We sometimes assume we already introduced ourselves. We have an important task to complete.  We are worried about something going on at home and are trying to get through the day.  There are many reasons why we fail to introduce ourselves, but we must remember that a person’s health is one of the most intimate and important issues for them, and introducing ourselves can ease a patient’s fear, anxiety and make them feel a little more comfortable in our setting.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Dr. Kate Granger, a physician in the UK, launched a campaign on twitter in 2013 entitled #HelloMyNameIs, as a result of her being diagnosed with a rare cancer and the lack of introductions to her throughout her hospital visits by all medical staff.   She stated that introducing yourself is one of the first things learned in medical school, yet “this missing link made me feel like I did not really matter, that these people weren’t bothered [with] who I was. I ended up at times feeling like I was just a diseased body in a hospital bed.”  We are so focused in healthcare on delivering safe, high quality care, a complexity of processes we master daily, yet introducing ourselves, a much simpler thing, still gets lost in the shuffle. We must remember that giving compassionate, empathetic care is just as important to our patients. Your introduction sets the tone for the relationship.  A simple, positive introduction can increase communication, comfort, and build a positive relationship that fosters an environment of healing.

How can you do it? 

1.       Make the introduction about them.   I’m going to be your nurse today and my plan is to help you get better as quickly as possible. Or try, “Hi, I’m Kara, tell me something interesting about you!”  Asking someone to share about themselves and really listening can really make the introduction special.

2.       Remember that nonverbal cues are as important as the introduction.  You must smile and show kindness in your introduction.  If you introduce yourself in a monotone, flat voice, without making eye contact or offering friendly gestures, the introduction certainly won’t help you with the ongoing relationship.

3.       Share more about your role in caring for the patient or serving your colleague.  Use the introduction to strike up conversation by sharing more about what you do and asking what needs the patient or colleague may have today.  You’ll be able to help the patient or colleague more by sharing more about your role in the process.  


Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: Acknowledge your Colleagues and CustomersPosted on December 24, 2017

Kara Redoutey, MBA & SOMC Service Team Members

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

We get focused on the task at hand, often meticulously entering information into the medical record. We get distracted putting out fires or handling issues. We are focused on correcting mistakes and training co-workers.  In all of this hustle and bustle, we forget to properly acknowledge the person in front of us with eye contact, a smile, and a warm, friendly greeting.  We often have good intentions, but good intensions are not enough.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Everyone deserves to be acknowledged. Nothing makes you feel more like you are not being cared for than when you are being ignored or not acknowledged.  Whether in person or on the phone, we should acknowledge customers so they know they are not an interruption to our day, but the reason for it.  When we take the time to acknowledge the people we serve, patient or colleague, we let them know through our behavior they are important and we are present and available to take care of their needs.

How can you do it? 

  1. Make eye contact and smile with a warm, friendly greeting.  A genuine smile goes a long way. Meet their eyes with “warm” eye contact, just as you would greet your family member, remembering, quite simply, this person is someone’s family member.
  2. Meet and greet customers and colleagues within 3 feet.  Look up as you walk or as you are working at a desk as someone is approaching within 3 feet.
  3. Practice a “Heads Up” policy when interacting with customers. It is impossible to do this properly when our heads are looking down on our devices, so “Heads Up” out of the cell phone and other devices.

In what unique ways do you remember to kindly acknowledge your customers?

 


Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: Lead by ExamplePosted on December 17, 2017

Kara Redoutey, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

At times, we forget how important it is to set an example of behavior for our teams.  We may get distracted and fail to give someone our full attention.  We may be busy and answer the phone sounding annoyed to the person on the other end.  We may be tired from having been up all night with our child and, in turn, been short with a team member or failed to really listen to their concerns.  We are human and there are a variety of reasons why we don’t always lead by example. No matter the reasons, we should always do our best to give perfect service despite how we feel.  We should also own up to our teams when we fail to give them the service we expect.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

This John Wooden quote really makes the case: “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own example.”  Your team is not likely to follow you if you aren’t willing to do the things you are asking them to do.  If you want your team members to develop and improve their service to your teams and patients, you must first show them how it’s done.  The example should always start with you. Even on the days we feel tired, sad, or overwhelmed, we have to push service to the forefront of our brains and deliver to our teams the level of service we expect them to deliver to our patients.

How can you do it? 

  1. Remember that you are always on stage.  No matter who you are interacting with, as a leader and service role model, you must consistently demonstrate the behaviors you are expecting from others. Someone is always watching you and will remember how you handled the situation.
  2. Model giving perfect service as often as possible.  When in situations, show your team how to do it. We want to change the old adage, from “do as I say, not as I do,” to “do as I say and do what I do.” You have a great opportunity to set the example for your teams and colleagues.
  3. Welcome constructive criticism when you are not delivering on your service commitment.  We all have moments or times where we fail to deliver perfect service to someone. Own up to it and ask your team members to call you on it.  We can make mistakes, but it’s best to make mistakes from which we can all learn and grow in an open environment where speaking up is encouraged.

When your day isn’t going as planned, how do you push yourself to make service a priority?


Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: What is the SOMC Way?Posted on December 15, 2017

Kara Redoutey, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

An article in The Harvard Business Review shared a quote from a professor at Columbia University saying, “It’s all too easy for businesses to become inward focused, to think about their own activities rather than what the customer is going through. They think they’re focused on the customer, but they really aren’t.”  This quote was a great reminder that we don’t always put ourselves in our patients’ shoes.  We often focus on our own processes and outcomes, rather than thinking about how our patients feel in the interactions with us. At times, we don’t really think about the overall impact that our everyday service has on our patients and the long term effects of failing to deliver on our commitment of giving perfect service.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Our mission to make a difference in our community is served in part by providing excellent service to our patients.  The more consistent we are in delivering positive patient experiences, the more patients will support the organization and continue to choose us for their care.  It is an amazing feeling to have made a hard, time consuming, or difficult situation just a little bit better for our patients by demonstrating to them how much they matter to us through our service to them.

How can you do it? 

Do your best to model The SOMC Way in every interaction with our patients and co-workers.  We will all be better for your commitment to focus on making each patient experience a positive one.

THE SOMC WAY

  1. I will acknowledge my customers with a warm smile, friendly greeting and eye contact.
  2. I will introduce myself to my customers, sharing my name and my role in caring for them, and I will call my customers by the name they prefer.
  3. I will make a personal connection with my customers by treating them like I or my family would want to be treated and remembering the “little things” to make them feel special.
  4. I will communicate respectfully with my customers by listening attentively (sitting down if in person) and displaying positive, open body language.
  5. I will explain the tasks I am performing for my customers by narrating while I am completing them, using terms that my customers can understand.
  6. I will keep my customers informed of the duration of their tests and treatment and up-to-date on any delays in their care.
  7. I will thank my customers for choosing SOMC for their care, and always ask if they need any additional assistance when my interaction with them is ending.
  8. I will take ownership of issues or problems for my customers, apologizing for the concern, working to find a solution or someone who can help me, and following through to fix the situation.
  9. I will be professional while representing SOMC through my neat, clean appearance and professional conduct.
  10. I will be a respectful team player at SOMC by anticipating my co-workers’ needs, helping where and when they need help, and acknowledging that all jobs and departments are important in delivering a positive patient experience.

What are some of ways you personally use “The SOMC Way” strategies to deliver perfect service to your patients or colleagues?


Creating and Sustaining a Service Culture: Why is Patient Experience so Important?Posted on December 3, 2017

Kara Redoutey, MBA

SOMC has recently started an organization wide journey toward Giving Perfect Service.  We engaged front line and provider service zealots to get their input into the consistent behaviors they demonstrate every single day with their patients and customers.  We then developed The SOMC Way, which has become the organization’s expected service behaviors for every interaction.  The next 16 weeks of the SOMC Blog will be focused on delivering perfect service to our patients and colleagues.  It is my hope that you will start commenting and sharing specific stories about how you deliver a positive patient experience, so we can all learn from one another about the different ways it can be done well.  I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

We sometimes lose sight or focus when we are performing better than national averages.  Why fix something that isn’t broken?  We are busy.  We are focused on so many things already, such as quality, patient flow, coordination of care, data tracking, documentation, and the list goes on and on. Our teams have enough to focus on without the added worry of ensuring they are doing all this work with a smile on their faces. It can be difficult to confront members of our team, who are extremely busy and performing their work exceptionally well, for not meeting the organization’s service expectations.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

There are a number of reasons for delivering a positive patient experience in every interaction, whether it be in person, on the phone, online, or any other way we are communicating with our patients.  First, patients who have an exceptional experience will choose our organization again for their care, meaning that we have helped to create a loyal customer.  We have discussed word of mouth marketing on this blog in the past.  Remember that loyal patients will talk to other potential patients and bring new customers to our organization.  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has shared that positive patient experiences increase patient engagement in their healthcare, ultimately improving overall quality of care.  Reimbursement will be impacted by the hospital’s service scores.  But the most important reason for focusing on giving perfect service is that our patients, friends, neighbors, and family members, deserve for their experience to be as pleasant as it can possibly be.

How can you do it? 

  1. Learn from staff on the front lines doing it right.  Most team members aren’t shy about sharing ways that they deliver a positive patient experience. We can learn from them and find new ways to connect with our patients.
  2. Re-educate your teams on service expectations.  We all need reminders from time to time. Simply taking the time to talk through different service expectations in a staff meeting can be a great reminder to team members.  Also using an opportunity when a situation didn’t go well to educate your teams can be a wonderful coaching moment.
  3. Hold leaders and staff accountable for delivering exceptional service.  We all have the opportunity to deliver excellent service, whether we are serving our colleagues who are directly serving patients or directly delivering care to patients. If you see an opportunity to coach a colleague on giving perfect service, take a moment to do so.  A coaching conversation could positively impact the care that patients receive every day!

How do you deliver a positive patient experience?


Process Improvement: How To Sell ItPosted on November 12, 2017

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

As a leader, you are no stranger to making decisions. You have built your team and you have been the architect of the culture in your department. With this in mind, you should have no problem making the decision to try and hard wire a mindset of process improvement into your team. If successful, you and your team would have achieved better results that you’re currently seeing. What leader wouldn’t charge head long into this effort? I would challenge that the answer to that question is any leader who wants this changes to be sustainable and most effective. If that is you, then you must sell your team. Their buy in will be the key to lasting success.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Process improvement is more than a series of tools or techniques that help you achieve better results. It’s a culture itself. It is a mindset. In order to achieve success, you have to find a way for the concepts of process improvement to be woven into the fabric of your team. The best way to do that is to sell your team and gain a consensus on the value that this will bring. A fully committed team will find success in places and in ways that a fragmented or disengaged team will never realize.

How can you do it?

  1. Identify key leaders. Find your allies on the team who will see the value you see.
  2. Welcome questions. Be open to feedback and constructive criticism from your team. They have to know that their opinions are welcome and will be heard.
  3. Seek the best idea. The best idea must win. If a team is going to work together, they must all believe that the objectives are worth striving for.

Thanks for journeying with me through this discussion about process improvement. I hope that you and your teams are able to take some of this information and help drive your culture to seek a better way.


Process Improvement: Lean Isn’t For MePosted on November 5, 2017

Why are leaders hesitant to focus on this?

If you have been following along with this blog series, you have probably thought that some (or a lot) of what I have been talking about sounds an awful lot like a manufacturing concept called LEAN. That’ because, process improvement is the singular objective of the lean concept. Many people have heard about lean. It isn’t all that new, but it is less common in industries outside of manufacturing. Someone might be tempted to think that lean won’t work for them because they work in healthcare. Or, even if one sees the value of its application to healthcare, they might be intimidated by the idea of lean. Perhaps they have heard people refer to it and use language that seems odd (Lean has its roots in Japanese culture) or its statistical applications seem over the head of many folks with a clinical background.

What is the case for doing it anyway?

I hope to convince you that by following the steps laid out in this recent series on Process Improvement that you can apply lean principles to your work place within the healthcare setting and achieve excellent results. I intentionally waited until the end of my series to make this case because I didn’t want you to be discouraged by any preconceived notions about lean. Instead, I hope that you have been able to see that there are many simple concepts that you can use to fill your leadership tool box that might help you and your team work to improve processes in your areas. Here at SOMC, a group of key leaders has worked hard to integrate these and many other principles into our areas of influence. We believed that a grass roots initiative of implementation was the best method to achieve cultural buy-in to these concepts. We also intentionally stay away from the work lean as well as the common language used by many organizations to describe lean and its associated processes. Instead, we use the phrase “A Better Way” as a cultural mantra to inspire leaders and teams to pursue excellence in their areas.

How can you do it?

  1. Understand your culture. A key to successfully establishing these principles is understanding how best to present them within your workplace. At SOMC, we felt simple and common language were keys to success for our efforts.
  2. Identify champions. Find a team of people who will embody the methodologies of process improvement. Insist that they lead within their areas by walking the talk of process improvement.
  3. Start small. Pick easy projects and get some wins under your belt before tackling broader organizational opportunities.

Next week I will talk about how to sell these ideas to your team directly. 


  • More information
  • (740) 356-5000