One Manager’s Secrets to Engaging His Team
An open door is the first step—but you have to listen and follow up, too
An open door is the first step—but you have to listen and follow up, too.
A recent visitor to Kaiser Permanente’s Rancho Cordova outpatient pharmacy in Northern California said it was run like a co-op. Manager David Haddad puts it another way: “It’s like an extension of my family.”
Whatever you call it, it works. The unit gets top scores for employee engagement in the annual People Pulse survey. It also is rated Level 4 on the five-point Path to Performance scale. That’s good news not only for the team, but also for KP members and patients: Research shows that when team members feel engaged, connected and valued, the team scores high on many measures of service, quality, workplace safety and patient safety.
How managers can engage others
“There is no secret, it is just the way you connect and build relationships,” says Haddad. “The most important leadership skills are people skills.”
A few simple practices can help. These include, in Haddad’s words:
- “Keep an open door. People know they can see me when they have a concern. It could be scheduling, or just needing flexibility. Talk it over and work things out. Life is seldom black and white.
- “Get out and talk with people about how they’re doing. Rounding with employees is key—getting to know your staff, building rapport and trust. Be sincere, be honest, show you care.
- “Make sure everyone is heard. We all know work needs to be done. We don’t need sticks to get it done. People will go above and beyond if they have a voice.”
Team members agree
“We’ve created an environment where it really is like a family and, like a family, we have ups and downs,” says union co-lead Sabrina Sharma, a lead clerk and SEIU-UHW member. “Everyone knows they can bring things forward in our UBT, or with me or David, and they will be addressed.”
That’s a big part of building team engagement and getting things done, she says: “Problems get solved as they come up, and people can see that. We don’t let things linger.”