I am pleased to have Susan Tyk and Fred Crans writing on relationships (not networking) in this issue. They are masters of this topic in our industry. The fact is, our whole industry feels like a relationship to me.
Sounds a bit over the top? Let me explain.
I have often told my “Carla story” to demonstrate the power of connecting to the very personal work that we do. There are many of us in our industry who have chosen this career as a result of a personal experience with a health issue. There is nothing more personal than helping a fellow human being, and how we fail to be motivated by that reality boggles my mind.
I had the pleasure of leading a supply chain team of 112 people at an academic medical center. All but five of them were part of a union – the dreaded “relationship killer.” I was told by the person who hired me that management was excited to see that I had come from Detroit and would know “how to deal with union employees.” Bad assumption and poor phrasing. There was no “dealing” required. What leadership didn’t realize is that I take what I do very personally. And I assume that others do too, or would if they understood like Carla did.
The center was located in a city with a great deal of tourism and out-of-county visitors. To help comfort those without family or friends to visit them, the center had a volunteer patient visitor corps. One of my first actions as a new leader was to very publicly sign up for the program and encourage my team to do the same. A few signed up and were soon sharing stories with their peers. I saw the benefits when several teammates asked if they could help with a sentinel event root-cause analysis. The event involved a supply and they felt accountable to a relationship they were developing with patients.
It is my belief that accountability spawns behavior that leads to trust. And trust is at the core of any good relationship. At the same facility we would hold monthly management meetings … with a twist. Each manager had to bring one staff member with him or her to the meeting. My accountability to the team motivated a transparent management style, and I was rewarded with trust. Not one grievance, improvements in productivity, employee and customer satisfaction scores, and several relationships that have endured to this day.
As the great children’s poet, Shel Silverstein wrote:
“How many slams in an old screen door?
Depends how loud you shut it.
How many slices in a bread?
Depends how thin you cut it.
How much good inside a day?
Depends how good you live ’em.
How much love inside a friend?
Depends how much you give ’em.”