Rounding with Employees – 6 Things for Leaders to Avoid

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When Rounding with Employees goes Wrong!

Leadership rounding with your staff is exactly what you make of it. You can gain insight, spur innovation, improve employee engagement and improve retention. You can also gaffe, misstep, misspeak and permanently damage employee relations. Avoid these pitfalls to maintain a health and free flow of information from the front lines to executive boardroom. Read no. You’ll thank me later.

1. No surprises.

Nothing gets a conversation off on the right foot like a surprise meeting with your boss’s boss. You don’t want people thinking they’ve just walked into a snap inspection. Surprises knock people off balance. They work great for costume parties. Not so great for healthy workplaces.

When you commit to rounding with employees, you state it loudly. Publicly. Repeatedly. In an all-staff meeting. Or on signs in the hallways. You explain.  what you’ll be talking about. Why you are interested. And when the conversations will take place. A conversation well-prepared is worth a 1000 words.

2. Learning from the ground up doesn’t grant  “permission to micro-manage.”

Driving detailed communication with front-line employees is how leaders get a view of the organization from the ground up. If you don’t engage in critical conversation with nurses, staff and other managers, you might never learn about broad and fixable patterns of mismanagement, resource scarcity or other sources of potential turnover.

So, when describes a problem to you, it;s natural to want to “fix it right away”.

Don’t. Unless you’ve heard reports of a problem from multiple sources across an extended time-period, it may be a simple misinterpretation of facts on the ground. Plus, you have managers and other smart team-members who are perfectly capable of fixing issues as they arise. Let them. Just because some one told you about a problem, doesn’t mean that it’s your job to fix it. Delegate. You can;t carry the the world on your shoulders. So don’t try. Isn;t that the whole reason you’re rounding with employees in the first place? Understand the issues from their perspective, connect their problems with the resources for solutions and ensure the entire team is engaged with success.

3. Just ’cause you’re free, doesn’t mean they are.

Every leader who commits to rounding with staff does it when their calendars are free. But, be aware. Just because you have a free hour, doesn’t mean your staff does. Since you’re the boss, it’s typically easier for you to rearrange your schedule. It might seem like a small gesture to to you. But, by showing you care enough to coordinate with your team’s schedule, you win a few points right off the bat.

4. Remember, you still have something to learn.

A person is smart. People are smarter. Let them teach you something every once in a while. Sometimes, it’s one of the hardest things for senior leadership and hospital executives to do. Two words: Remain humble! Your front line are well-acquainted with the minutia of the job. Don’t pretend to know something you don’t. It won’t impress.

5. Accept criticism and negative feedback with humility.

When you begin rounding with employees, there’s a couple of common patterns to the conversation. First, you might have some timid employees who are reticent to open up to the boss. Conversely, ,you might run into an employee or two who are perfectly comfortable “telling you like it is”. No holds barred. Sometimes this can be hard to hear, especially when you feel such ownership for a process, team, its mission and values.

Nod your head. Agree and validate. Assume positive intent. Remind yourself that staff have good intentions. They are good people, their hearts are int he right place. They mean the best.

Especially early in the communications process of rounding, hotly-delivered feedback is fairly common. But, the more you talk, the more regular your conversations, the more measured the communication will become.

6. Round and round. Plan to do it all over again.

You’ve finished rounding with employees for the day. You wipe your brow and sigh. “Whew! Glad that’s over with.” If this describes you, it’s not a good sign.

If you commit to a program of grounding with employees, you’re staff expects to see you on the floor. Don’t disappoint. Don’t let something “more important than them” keep you from your commitment. Believe me. They’ll notice. And they’ll hold it against you for a long, long time.

Don’t risk it. Prepare for the inevitable. Scheduling conflicts are sure to arise. Keep your announced schedule loose, like “sometime during the 3rd week of the month”. Commit loudly and publicly to keeping your to your rounds, but explain that at times you might be called away to deal with much “less interesting” chores. Ensure they know, it’s all about them and you’ll have great success time and again.

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