Going One-on-One with Staff

image of medical professionals meeting one-on-one

Sitting down with the boss can be somewhat intimidating for RT staff — and sometimes it’s not easy for the manager behind the desk either. But managers who regularly meet with their direct reports on a one-on-one basis say it’s worth the time and trouble.

Part of the culture

Dawn Robinson, MBA, RRT, is director of respiratory care services and the OR STAT lab at Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock, TX. She holds one-on-one meetings with her staff on a quarterly basis.

“It’s part of our culture to have one-on-one’s with staff so we can touch base with them on an individual basis,” she said. ”In large groups, people tend not to say anything, but when meeting individually they tend to open up more. This also helps build trust and a relationship between the staff member and the supervisor.”

Topics covered during these meetings run the gamut from the Covenant mission and focus to annual goals on progress.

“We ask if there are any opportunities that we need to be aware of or work on in relation to equipment/supplies, patient safety, and them having the tools to do their jobs,” Robinson said.

She also gives each staff member the chance to share what they think is working well in the department and what could benefit from improvement. This allows the staff member to vent about anything that’s been bothering them and lets them know management is receptive to their perspectives.

“We let them know that we care about them and want to ensure they feel supported by our team/ministry,” Robinson said.

More spontaneous

At Froedtert South in Kenosha, WI, one-on-one meetings are more spontaneous. Tim Buckley, MSc, RRT, FAARC, director of respiratory care, the Sleep Disorders Center, and neurodiagnostics, says most of them center around the disciplinary process, but there are happier meetings too.

“About once a month or so I also either have an RT approach me or I ask them to come in to talk about opportunities,” he said. ”Some of the RT-initiated meetings are them bringing ideas or projects proposals. Some just hear rumors, and want to confirm or deny those rumors.”

Often the therapist who requests a meeting will be asking to take on new responsibilities.

“Examples of this are training for intubations, line placement, etc.,” Buckley said. “I also check in with them about career planning and education plans — get that BS degree started!”

Buckley regularly meets with RT interns as well to check on their progress and grades in school.

“These are sort of like my kids,” he said.

A big part of her role

“We recently restructured our organization, and although rounding has always been a key initiative, it became much more important in my new role as director of community hospitals,” said Carrie Winberg, MSHA, BSRT, RRT, community hospitals respiratory care director for Intermountain Health Care in Utah.

Now she has responsibility for nine hospital managers and rounding gives her the opportunity to spend time with them on an individual basis and gain a better understanding of their unique strengths and the issues they are facing within their geographic areas.

The meetings occur monthly or sometimes quarterly, depending on the department, and while most are carried out face-to-face, some take place via phone or telepresence.

“Often times we discuss what is going well, what barriers exist, and people to recognize,” Winberg said. “Most importantly, however, these meetings serve as a time for building a more personal relationship with them. The better I know an individual, the more success I have in capitalizing on their strengths. The entire organization benefits from that.”

She sees the value

Valerie Boyd, RRT, manager of cardiopulmonary and the Sleep Center at Hillsdale Hospital in Hillsdale, MI, says her hospital initiated staff rounding as part of the Studer program several years ago and she saw the value in it then and continues to see it today.

Although it’s not always possible, she tries to round on each of her employees on a monthly basis.

“I have a list of questions I go through with each employee and I change these up from time to time,” she said. “Some of the standard questions include: What is working well? Are there other staff or physicians you would like to be recognized and why? Do you have the tools and equipment needed to do your job? Are there any quality or safety concerns?”

She also tackles the tough questions the employee may have — things they want to get off their chest or would not be comfortable bringing up with the rest of the team.

“Other things I have added include: What one thing would help improve your job? Are there things we can do as an organization, department, or me as your manager, better?” Boyd said.

She’ll ask her employees to cite the one thing they’ve done to create a positive work environment as well, and she always ends the session with a final question: “What can I do for you?”

Good advice

Robinson, Winberg, and Boyd have some tips for RT staff who have the chance to meet one-on-one with their managers —

Dawn Robinson: This is a time for the staff caregiver to not only share needs/opportunities to improve, but a time to remember why they are here and what they do for our patients and customers is invaluable. It’s a time to reflect on purpose, get feedback from their direct supervisor on performance so there’s no surprises at the time of performance evaluations; it’s a time to feel heard and cared about. It’s a time to offer up ideas for improvement for the department and hospital.

Carrie Winberg: Use the time to really view yourself and your leadership strengths as well as your department strengths and challenges. Bring forward the issues, but also come ready to present some viable solutions. Health care can be very challenging, but we are better together!

Valerie Boyd: My advice to employees is to be honest. Look at this meeting as an opportunity to have a voice. I have implemented changes and improvements within our department and our organization based on recommendations from staff. It should be a positive experience!