When Leaders Round on Staff

It was still dark when my alarm went off. I got out of bed, stumbled into the shower, managed to find clothes that matched, and headed to the hospital to round on some staff members in the middle of the night.

One of the things my health system does is get leadership to get out on the floors, into all the departments, and talk to staff. Our goal is to find out what’s working well, what we can be doing better to support them in their work, be visible, approachable, and make connections.

I got to the hospital and was struck by how quiet it was. Usually when I get to work there’s a lot going on, people everywhere, visitors trying to find patient rooms, lots of commotion. Now, it was quiet and I didn’t see anyone as I came in through the employee entrance and made my way to my office to drop off my things.

I headed up to one of the nursing units I visit on a daily basis. I know just about everyone on the day shift and look forward to seeing them each day. Tonight, I met people I’d never met before. People who were incredibly dedicated to their jobs. People who had worked here for more than 25 years. People who truly believed in our mission.

They didn’t know me, but they opened up to me, told me what they loved about working here, what they wished we would change, what we as leaders could do to help them be more effective. It was eye-opening, amazing, and humbling. 

I met an RN who told me that “Christmas came early” because we approved a position that gave him additional support overnight and relieved him of the stress he’d been feeling. I spoke to a nursing assistant who said she felt like this was a second home to her because of her fabulous teammates. 

And I never would have met them had I not signed up to do leader rounding. 

Leader rounding is an evidence-based practice that increases not only direct-care staff engagement but leader engagement, as well.

When we get out from behind our desks and talk to people, it improves staff morale and helps us feel more a part of things. Talking to people you don’t normally talk to or even see is a great way to understand what’s really going on. 

If you’re a leader, get out there and round. If you’re a direct-care worker, talk to the leaders when they come to your unit or department. Tell them what you love and what you wish they’d improve. We’re listening. 

Author: Kate Kalthoff

It's simple: leave people, places, and things better than I found them. For more than 20 years, Katherine Kalthoff has been working to improve the way healthcare organizations connect with the people they serve. She began her career at Gift of Hope, the organ procurement organization for Illinois, approaching families and securing their consent to donate a loved one’s organs for transplant. Through compassionate, empathetic listening, Kate led the Family Services team to one of the highest consent rates in the country. From there, Kate went to Advocate Health Care, Illinois’s largest healthcare system, as a Physician Relations and Business Development Manager, improving physician satisfaction and strengthening the relationships of both the employed and independent physicians with the system as a whole. Just prior to joining Northwest Community Healthcare as the Patient Experience Officer, Kate was the first Manager of Patient Experience at DuPage Medical Group where she built a platform of organization-wide service excellence through her inspiring brand of education, training, and one-on-one coaching. A much sought-after speaker and trainer, Kate has a very simple approach to her work: leave people, places and things better than you found them.

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