Working as a healthcare practitioner, whether as a physician, nurse, therapist or some other profession, one would most likely have observed some form of a gap between senior management and staff, or between different health care professionals, say doctors and nurses.
By gap we mean negative vibes or an atmosphere of an awkward and indecisive pattern of communication. This is something that isn't tangible and most of the time is only felt. There is an air of disconnection where we feel that we are working on one goal, but employ a “mind your own” kind of attitude. Any institution or organization, big or small, is not immune to this problem.
It is quite common in the workplace to see staff nurses hesitant to approach a head nurse on a seemingly unimportant consult. It is also not unusual to find a nurse who is meticulously trying to decipher a doctor’s handwritten order rather than making a simple phone call to the physician to seek clarification. There are times that we see a therapist accidentally disregarding protocol because he is unaware that the management has recently instituted changes.
There are also instances when we hear the staff complain about over fatigue due to understaffing. They talk about pay-cuts, diminishing benefits and lack of opportunities for skill-enhancement. On the other hand, the senior management wants the staff to understand that they are challenged by limited human resources, budget limits, regulatory mandates and dictates of consumer satisfaction. Both levels of hierarchy experience difficulties in their positions. With these challenges, the gap just widens even more.
What Happens When a Gap Exists Between Groups of Practitioners, Staff and Leaders?
When disconnect is apparent in an organization, reaching institutional goals is like traveling by train on a defective track where there are jolts, unnecessary detours, stops, and delayed arrivals. The working environment is heavy with discontent and undercurrents. Workers feel like they are dragging their own feet to work. There is much confusion, error and indecisiveness, much to the detriment of client care and employee satisfaction.
With all this said, it is therefore important to close the gap.
Bridging the Gap
Closing the gap is never an easy task. Since it is not tangible, the results are hard to measure. But there is a way to make the task of bridging the gap a lot easier. We create opportunities for:
- Employee Engagement
When employees are engaged they become pro-active in pursuing organizational goals because they are fully-absorbed in their assigned tasks. This is made possible by clearly defining performance objectives, rewarding staff for their timely work completion, and ensuring that the management is made aware of their advancements and achievements.
To accomplish this, think about incorporating gamification techniques in the process. Some organizations, like Manage Up use gamification techniques to engage employees and these techniques have been very successful. Wouldn't you enjoy hearing more staff say that they love their job? With passion for the job, there is less ground for complaints and dissatisfaction.
- Collaboration and closed loop communication
There is more appreciation of the hierarchy when there is collaboration and closed loop communication in every step of reaching organizational goals. This doesn't have to include a lot of time-consuming face-to-face meetings? Imagine the use of videos, that can easily be disseminated to a dispersed workforce, to communicate changes or mandates. What if these videos were accessed via a platform that would provide real time feedback to the management?
- Process improvement tools and techniques.
Streamlining workflows can result in getting more tasks completed which can be a significant process improvement. This is because clear-cut objectives are set, the time for task completion is reasonable and definite, and the information needed to complete the job is available and accessible. These areas may seem like simple things however they have high impact on client health outcome and employee satisfaction. Manage Up has a proven track record of success.
Finally, any process that can be automated, such as information dissemination, license renewals, and document management and tracking provides a way to establish standardization and a common ground for understanding between practitioners.
With these strategies for closing the gap, we get the best of all worlds: better patient outcomes, more employee satisfaction, more shared leadership from the senior management and an encouraging workplace culture.