Management by wandering around is not a new concept for most leaders. This type of unplanned, ad-hoc process has been proven overtime to engender transparency and trust while facilitating informal conversations that can be wildly productive but may otherwise never happen. At TriStar Centennial Medical Center, this takes place during rounding sessions where leaders take the time to visit with staff on the floors–to be visible–to get a sense for how the organization is functioning on the front lines of patient care. This kind of information gathering (and dissemination), however, is only part of the battle.
Generally speaking, individual contributors want to hear from their organization’s leaders on a regular basis. They want updates on the state of the organization, how the team is tracking to plan, what strategic initiatives are going to be starting up, and how are we responding to the ever-changing business and regulatory environment in which we operate. For large organizations (TriStar Centennial has over 3,000 employees that work in shifts around the clock), these updates happen in a multitude of forums:
- Leadership Team Meetings. Targeted to Directors and above, these meetings are the foundation of top-down communication where the organization’s leadership team is brought up to speed on the state of operations as well as educated on strategic communications and themes that need to be passed on to the larger staff.
- Departmental All-Hands Meetings. Often held monthly (I “bribe” my team with breakfast to make the thought of yet another meeting more palatable), these sessions allow for department leaders to communicate both the broader messages from the senior leadership team as well as discuss department-specific ideas, themes and strategies.
- Facility Town Hall Meetings. Held quarterly, these sessions are open to anyone that can attend and include discussion segments led by various members of the senior leadership team. Because of the size of our campus, we break them down by facility to keep the group size manageable.
- Night Meals. Operating in a 24 x 7 x 365 organization creates communication challenges that need to be creatively addressed. One way that we do this is by hosting quarterly “night meals” where our 7P/7A employees can a) get a free meal and b) interact with and hear from their leadership team. For some of these employees it may be the only times throughout the year that they get to see certain leaders.
- Weekly Emails from the CEO. Our CEO does a great job of sending out a quick note via email every Monday communicating a key, strategic message for the week. Often based on personal observations and experience, they serve as a touch-point regarding what we believe in as an organization and how we strive to serve our customer. HCA’s CIO, Marty Paslick, produces a similar weekly communication via podcast.
- Monthly Newsletters. Long a part of many an organization’s communication strategy, we produce both printed and electronic copies of a monthly newsletter that reaches a large section of our employee population.
Taken individually, each tactic may leave out certain portions of our employee population. When building upon one another, however, we are able to communicate the desired and necessary messages while also providing forums for feedback and questions. The design of each of these communication opportunities is to increase the visibility of the leadership teams with the staff so that ALL members of the team feel valued, respected, and communicated with.
These are just six of the more formal strategies that my organization employs to increase visibility to, and communication with, our talented team of employees. What other strategies have you seen successfully employed by organizations you have been a part of?