Engaging and Empowering Team Members

Engaging and Empowering Team Members Posted By:
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As healthcare professionals, we are lifelong learners. I like to think of our endless pursuit of knowledge extending even beyond the healthcare space—a source of inspiration for me is learning about the stories, experiences, and people in other industries, in particular, their relentless pursuits of building positive working environments.

Recently, as part of a Harvard Business Review (HBR) video series titled, The New World of Work, Michele Buck, CEO of The Hershey Company, discussed the importance of empowering internal change agents. Internal change agents are defined as "team members who understand organization development, behavioral sciences, and human intervention." In the traditional sense, these team members tend to be employees who hold a more managerial focused role. However, any team member has the potential to be an internal change agent, regardless of formal job title.

In healthcare, the "traditional" internal change agents are typically employees who are removed from the frontlines of patient care. If you have ever felt that the decisions made in your workplace seem out of touch with the realities of the frontline environment, you are not alone—this distanced approach can even be counterproductive.

During her interview with Adi Ignatius, editor in chief of HBR, Ms Buck underscored the importance of identifying influential "disruptive thinkers" within the organization and leveraging them on key initiatives to propel those bold ideas forward. When identifying disruptive thinkers, she seeks out individuals who have keen insights on market trends and the company's greatest strengths and how to harness these to influence future success.

By turning to the input of those closest to a problem to facilitate solutions, a very different tone is set for the implementation and acceptance of change. With this approach, you signal your recognition and respect of the individual's organizational knowledge and expertise, and engage them further in working to solve the problem. Moreover, you are fostering a team environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute.

In addition to identifying disruptive thinkers, Ms Buck emphasized the importance of actively listening to their ideas. When we are not curious about the suggestions of others, we project less of a growth mindset, consequently establishing an environment in which it is easy to automatically extinguish the ideas of team members. Ensuring a safe environment for exchange of ideas is important for every leader to do, and is a part of gaining peoples' trust.

In every workplace, every day, there are new challenges to overcome and problems to solve. With those challenges and problems comes the opportunity to meaningfully engage with team members who are closest to those problems, as well as the opportunity to cultivate a positive workplace culture. As author and leadership expert Simon Sinek says, "If you have a problem to solve at work, try and help somebody else solve that same problem."

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Filed under: Practice Management/Career , NPs & PAs

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