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Can we talk? (Will you listen?)

In my last blog, I shared some thoughts about leaders systematically creating a clear line of sight to what’s most important in the organization. This aspect of your leadership system ensures that your employees are “in the know” about what matters most. Consistent communication aligns everyone’s efforts, and provides insight into how each person’s work contributes to the goals and priorities of your organization. But engaging communication must include candid, two-way communication between managers and employees, which means creating a dialogue, not just a monologue.

Frontline employees are your first line of offense and defense

Paraprofessionals such as CNAs, housekeepers, and dietary staff are closest to the point of care and service and therefore are uniquely positioned to positively impact patient, resident and family experience. They are also able to observe potential issues, often well before leaders have an inkling of any concerns. It’s in your best interest to encourage open, candid communication from employees, especially those at the front line.

Ideally, frontline employees are your first line of offense for ensuring happy customers, and the first line of defense to prevent things from going wrong. However, there is a potential underlying barrier that prevents a proactive response to looming issues. If employees raise a concern to a supervisor or manager who responds dismissively, or discounts the matter, the obvious outcome is that those concerns or complaints are not dealt with appropriately or in a timely fashion. This ultimately results in service failures and increases the probability that residents and their families will seek other remedies, e.g., voice a complaint, issue a grievance, or call an ombudsman!

Engaged employees are the cornerstone for delivering great care and service, and preventing service breakdowns. An engaged employee is deeply invested in the success of their facility – they are loyal, more productive, and positively impact outcomes. They will also identify and report issues and concerns quickly. Clearly, engaged employees are foundational to service excellence. And supervisors and managers are the gatekeepers of employee engagement.

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