Steven Sewell

Encouraging Leadership - Strengthening Teams During Times of Change, Adversity, and Loss.

Month: March 2016

Making Sense of Employee Anxiety and Performance Measures

Performance reviews, progress reports, and “check ins” are as old as the word “career,” but many employees are asking their employers to hold on… it’s stressing them out!

Read on here!

3 Tips to Make Your Healthcare Work More Enjoyable

After spending 10 + years in hospice work and being a pastor for 25 years I have learned a few things about healthcare workers: they are usually exhausted, under-valued, and not paid well. You show me someone who works hard everyday work day and I will point you to a healthcare worker. Yep.

Don’t get me wrong. I am NOT saying that engineers or railroad technicians don’t put in a good days work. I am NOT saying that teachers are slackers and those who work in accounting have “posh” jobs. I am not even saying that pastors, clergy, and chaplains have it easy. What I AM SAYING is that caregivers, healthcare workers, hospice and palliative care workers have demanding jobs with the added stress of “life being in their hands”.

So if you are a healthcare worker, if you take care of the elderly, disabled, work in the hospital, hospice, palliative care, ER, Intensive Care, or with rehabilitation- this one is for you!

3 Tips to Make Your Work More Enjoyable

1. Embrace your vulnerabilities. Be human. Or in other words, don’t think for even a second that you are the savior; a hero. You are a human life given a set of skills and compassion that add value to those who are in jeopardy of losing theirs . When you find yourself at a loss with how to do something, admit it, get help, and stand by to learn. Grow in your…

  • communication
  • learning how to deal with conflicts
  • trusting your team
  • listening to yourself
  • experience your grief and bereavement

2. Be your own patient (follow your own advice). I once knew a nurse who would have wonderful counsel for families who were going through the perils of watching their loved ones pass from this life. She had wonderful points to ponder, great advice on how to cope, spectacular self care discernment for others. What she didn’t have is the ability to put her own counsel into practice. Don’t be like this.

Try this little exercise to examine whether you “put your money where your mouth is”: take a piece of paper and write down the things you find yourself saying to patients to help them. Things such as get enough protein, get a check up, follow up with your physician, exercise, wean yourself off of the pain medicine as you feel you can. Once you have 10-15 items, go back and checkmark the ones you yourself follow. Be ready to find yourself surprised at what spoken values are in comparison to practiced values in your life.

3. Sleep. Yes, I said sleep. You wouldn’t believe how many healthcare workers do not get enough sleep and/or rest well. Blame all kinds of things but the bottom line is care-givers don’t get enough shut eye.

Imagine if you were well rested-each day. Imagine how much more comforting and patient you would be with yourself, others, and most importantly, your patients. Imagine how much strength you would have. Imagine your creative problem-solving skills if you were well rested. Sleep. More. Take a nap, Get a sleep study done if you believe there are sleep issues in your life, hereditary concerns, or if your spouse or family tell you that they get concerned when you sleep because you may be stopping to breath . Get some rest!

Hey you medical staff! Attention social workers, chaplains, and bereavement counselors! Calling all EMT and Community service officers. Shouting out to all the doctors… You do amazing work! You go for the gusto for your patients! Take yourself seriously and consider these words: Thank you for taking care of your patients. Please take care of yourself!

Promotions: not necessarily for the longest standing employee

While having lunch I overheard a striking statement that made me think about the topic of promotion and advancing up the ladder. The gentleman told his lunch mate that he was angry that he was not promoted, saying “after all, I have been there the longest”.

Certainly I do not know all the details of the company, this employee or the supervisor that is in charge of promotions and giving out raises. I don’t know the reasoning behind who received the promotion. I don’t know anything about this situation… except that I picked up on the fact that this guy was genuinely jaded that he was passed over. I sensed his pain as he felt overlooked, underappreciated, and un-valued.

Nevertheless, I also caught on to his expectation. He assumed that since he was the longest standing employee in that department it gave him the right to the job. He was next in line to receive the promotion of management. I wonder if this kind of thinking is outdated. Maybe its altogether wrong.

According to a December 21, 2015 Business Journal, tenure-based advancement to management is the norm in many organizations. But the same report and recent Gallup report reveals that the two most frequent reasons U.S. workers are named manager are tenure with their company and success in a non-managerial role. But neither necessarily indicates that a person has the right talent to succeed as a manager.

As I speak around the country to organizations, churches, and companies of all kinds and sizes, one of the common threads of things they want me to address is employee engagement and resiliency. And I am happy to do that. But as I leave the platform one of my questions that I challenge them with is: examine who is at the table and who needs to be there-but not. Perhaps one of the people who are there, that needs to be removed is the one who thinks they have a right because of tenure. Perhaps skill set, empathy, and knowledge should be at the top of the lists for advancement. Maybe these should trump tenure.

It makes sense to me- skill set, empathy, and job-based knowledge should replace the old fashioned tenure reason why people get promotions.

Certainly longevity is a value worthy of reward. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an employee being faithful to a company and its vision for long periods of time; throughout several kinds of seasons. Weathering the storms of business is a true test of integrity and should be rewarded. But maybe management is not the right kind of promotion. Maybe it’s a pay raise. Perhaps it’s time off, extra vacation days. Maybe it’s a sabbatical. Sometimes its just wrong to promote someone to management just because they have been there the longest.

I once knew a pastor who thought that he should become a regional director of his denomination because he and his wife had been in the area the longest. It would be his “last stop before retirement”, he told me. I asked him if he thought he would be good at it? His response,” it doesn’t matter if I am good or not, I am next in line”. Thankfully the denomination did not choose to promote him.

Promotions: it’s not just for those who have been there the longest.

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