Time to listen – voices of the staff

When we encourage staff to speak up, we, as leaders, must be ready to listen. I’ve heard it said we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen more than we speak.

I encourage my staff to “make their voice heard” and have written about this. Yesterday, I participated in the University of Michigan VOICES of the Staff Town Hall Meeting.  It was the third such session in the last ten years and focused on the Future of Work. Over 100 staff from across the university and health system were brought together to help define and shape changes needed in our working environment. The goal of the meeting was to determine the most pressing challenges for all UM staff to develop VOICES work team themes for 2015.

Prior to the town hall, 600 staff were surveyed for ideas.  100 staff members who were willing to give a half day to the town hall were to turn those ideas into concrete proposals. At the end of their working session, each of the 12 groups gave a 30 second “elevator speech” pitch to our new University President, Dr. Mark Schlissel. Continue reading

National White Coat Die-In

It’s been 18 days since the Ferguson grand jury decision and 9 days since the NYC grand jury decision. We have all seen the news and protests in cities around the country. Black lives matter.

Yesterday, another group demonstrated their support. Students at 70 medical schools around the country organized a national white coat die in. They lay down for fifteen and a half minutes. Eleven minutes to represent the number of times that Eric Garner said “I can’t breathe” as he was in a choke hold by police in New York City and four and a half minutes to represent the four and a half hours that Michael Brown’s body lay in the street after being shot by a police officer.

Medical students with the support of deans and faculty at prestigious schools such as Harvard, Yale, UCLA and Johns Hopkins said that racial bias is a public health issue. Physicians are trained to do no harm. They are trained to heal. They are trained to save lives. Yes, this is a public health issue. Continue reading

Listen and learn — why I host staff breakfasts

Last November, I started the practice of hosting monthly breakfasts for up to 20 of my department staff at a time. We skipped two months around the time of our major inpatient go live in June. That means I’ve spent time with at least 160 staff getting to know them, listening to their concerns and answering questions in a small, informal setting. There’s a small group of “frequent flyers” who have come to more than one so far. I tease them that it must be the food but I know it’s them wanting to have a voice which I’m happy to listen to.  “Make your voice heard” is a theme I’ve been encouraging all year.

At the most recent breakfast, there was a lull in the conversation.  I called upon one of my frequent flyers whom I have come to know is willing to tell it like it is.  Continue reading