What Are Extraordinary Leaders Doing in Healthcare?

Be UncommonIt all started on a phone call with nursing leader, Anita Walden. Anita is the Chief Nursing Officer at Decatur Morgan Hospital in Decatur, AL. We were talking about best practices related to employee engagement and she shared a story with me about the president of the hospital, Nat Richardson. I was amazed!

Click here to continue reading the article in Becker’s Hospital Review…

Article appears in Becker’s Hospital Review (original producer).

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Let’s Do It Because We Care

There are many reasons to focus on employee engagement at work.  Recent research has shown that engaged employees are more productive, creative & safe. They offer better customer service. Financially the results are astounding. According to an article in Fast Company magazine, “Organizations in the top decile of engagement outperform their peers by 147%  in earnings per share, and have 90% better growth trend than their competition.”

The trouble is, most employees don’t give a hoot about employee engagement

(Perfect for tweeting @vickihess)

employee engagement

No one that I know, wakes up in the morning and says “I can’t wait to go to work to be engaged today.” In fact, according to a 2014 Accountemps survey, one of the most annoying business buzzwords is employee engagement. Yikes! Why do we keep talking about it if it’s so irritating?

Hopefully, because you care!

Whether you are thinking about engagement for yourself or you’re a manager and thinking about your team…being engaged (aka “to occupy oneself; become involved” – Dictionary.com) is good for YOU!

As a refresher, my definition of engagement is when you’re “satisfied, energized & productive.” When I ask participants at my workshops or keynotes about the benefits to individuals who feel this way, here are some of the most common responses:

  • More energy
  • More fun
  • Time flies
  • Less stress
  • Better teamwork
  • Sleep better

Don’t you want to experience all those things? I know I do!

Today, pay attention to the times when you feel satisfied, energized & productive. Notice how YOU benefit in many of the ways listed above (hopefully you aren’t experiencing the sleeping benefit at work – haha).

If you are in a formal leadership role, start asking about the personal benefits of engagement because you care.

If you are looking for ways to find those benefits yourself, find a way to connect directly to what makes you feel satisfied, energized & productive and pay attention while it’s happening. That’s the ticket to all those lovely outcomes.

I’d love to hear the benefits you experience when you are engaged at work. Feel free to post your comments below.


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What Kind of “Footprint” are You Making at Work?


Deepak Chopra Text Image

This tweet by Deepak Chopra says it well. We all have an energetic signature that we share every time we come in contact with someone.

The question is…are you consciously choosing your own signature?  

Your energetic signature is evidenced by the metaphorical “footprint” you leave behind after each interaction. Here are two footprints that I often see to help you ponder your own energy signature.

Prison Yard Footprint™

This footprint is left by Chain Gang Members everywhere. The Chain Gang Member has sentenced him or herself to Professional Prison. He or she chooses to be unhappy most of the time, regardless of what is happening externally. These folks are just plain yucky to be around!

I often ask my audiences what a Prison Yard Footprint looks like at work. Here are the most common responses:

  • Complaining     Muddy Boot Print
  • Negativity
  • Focus on problems – not solutions
  • Victim mentality
  • Gossiping


Now that’s a depressing list of behaviors…do you agree? These Chain Gang Members need to clean up their Prison Yard Footprint!

Paradise Footprint

Footprint in Sand

This footprint is left by the Chief Paradise Officers (CPOs). A CPO is someone who regularly connects with things at work that make him or her feel satisfied, energized & productive. These CPOs aren’t immune to a little complaining or an occasional bad day. They do, however, work to control their response to the challenges they encounter.

Here’s what the Paradise Footprint looks like:

  • Smiling
  • Support for team members
  • Genuine appreciation for others
  • Gratitude
  • And as Deepak says in his tweet…”positive feelings”

As much as you might think that these footprints are caused by what’s happening at work, that’s just not true. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that two people can have two very different responses to the same external event (think technology upgrade). One person chooses a Paradise Footprint while another leaves their muddy, Prison Yard Footprint all over.

At work, are you choosing a Paradise Footprint or a Prison Yard one or are you just stumbling along without any thought at all?

Don’t clean up your Prison Yard Footprint for your boss, your coworkers or customers. They will all appreciate it, but the most important benefit will be the one you see for yourself. You will feel more satisfied, energized & productive. Your stress will go down and you’ll feel better. The great news is that you don’t need any special skills. You just need awareness, willingness and a little effort. To get a head start, visit www.ProfessionalParadise.com to download free tools.

See you in Professional Paradise!

Vicki Hess


© Vicki Hess ALL RIGHTS RESERVED – May be duplicated for internal use only with all contact information.

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Goldfish Attention Spans (Yes…Really!)

This is a guest blog post from the incomparable Sam Horn. I’ve worked with Sam in the past and she’s a great resource for creating intrigue (and in a good way of course). Enjoy this blog post about her newest book, Got Your Attention? How to Create Intrigue and Connect with AnyoneRegardless of your job, this is potent information to have.

IntrigueQuote“A lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”  pioneer Steve Jobs

I agree with Steve Jobs.

That’s why, as soon as Intrigue Agency Project Manager Mo Sahoo discovered a startling statistic from Harvard Business School researcher Nancy F. Koehn, that goldfish YES GOLDFISH, have longer attention spans that we do (9 seconds to our 8), I knew it was, somehow, going to be featured on the cover my new book.

Why?  Because it illustrates the idea of the book.

Here’s what I mean.

Do you know the intriguing back-story behind the iconic cover of the book Jaws?

Read the rest…just click here.

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Forget about Generations at Work

Adelaide has spiffy Tom Ford glasses and a modern, cropped haircut. She’s known as a firebrand and prankster in the office. Her boss knows her favorite song is Pharrell’s “Happy”. Adelaide is turning 72 next month. Should her boss manage her using the stereotypes of the “veteran” generation?

“Generations at Work” is a popular topic at many conferences and leadership retreats. Most leaders are in search of the Holy Grail of Generational Knowledge to make their life easier and positively impact employee engagement and business results. It’s time for leaders to stop worrying about broad trends and start focusing on the individuals walking the halls or sitting in the cubicles right outside their offices.

Seriously, can you really manage others based on when they were born? Isn’t that what astrology is all about? For every decade-based trend you read about there’s an employee on the team who proves that it’s not true. Of course we are influenced by the generation in which we were born, but that doesn’t mean we can be managed based on these labels.

Beliefs & Mindsets

Individuals are a compilation of the beliefs and mindsets they learn sitting at their dinner table, in classrooms, religious halls and sports fields as they grow up. People are influenced to some degree by what’s happening in the world in the formative years; however, they’re much more influenced by the personal interactions in their own lives. Although Adelaide grew up in a generation that lacked technology, she readily embraces it in her day-to-day work. She loves a test of any sort because growing up on a farm; her dad taught her that challenges are character building.

The reason leaders need to better understand employee’s beliefs and mindsets is that beliefs and mindsets drive actions and outcomes. Striving to learn more about what specifically makes your direct reports tick, instead of dwelling on that generation’s conventions, will provide insights that have the potential to improve engagement.

In 6 Shortcuts to Employee Engagement: Lead & Succeed in a Do-More-With-Less World, I share several high impact, easy to implement ideas for creating this shared understanding. One of the shortcuts is to Create Positive Connections. The best way to get to know someone as an individual is to spend time with him or her one-on-one on a regular basis. I don’t mean stopping by the cubicle to check in – that’s great, but doesn’t go deep enough.

Create Positive Connections

Unfortunately, individual meetings with the boss have gotten a bad rap. They usually mean you are “in trouble” or it’s time for the once a year Performance Review. The kind of meeting I’m suggesting is 1) regularly scheduled; 2) on the calendar; 3) held in a private place; and, 4) lasts at least 20 minutes.

The frequency can be monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly. These one-on-one meetings have the potential to transform the leader/direct report relationship because they open the lines of communication. During the meetings, leaders get to know more about what makes employees feel satisfied, energized & productive (my definition of employee engagement). Employees also get to know their boss a little better and this can break down reverse generational stereotypes. This open communication creates a more positive workplace and ultimately a better experience for patients, their families and other stakeholders.

Conducting one-on-one meetings to open the lines of communication with each direct report is also a key component of improving employee engagement. And improving employee engagement is a key component to improving every metric you measure. Conducting one-on-one meetings provides an opportunity to talk about beliefs and mindsets, create shared accountability, and form a very positive connection between leaders and team members.

Since they’ve been having regular one-on-one meetings, Adelaide and her boss have a better understanding of each other. She likes being heard. She enjoys the informal discussions. She is more engaged. Her boss knows her as an individual – not a member of the veteran generation.

Plain and simple…if you want to improve employee engagement, work on getting to know what makes the folks who report to you feel satisfied, energized & productive and help them find ways to do more of those things. Focusing on generations means focusing on generalities. Focusing on individuals lets you focus on personal engagement.

To download a free copy of the One-on-One Meeting Grid™ (and many other free tools from the book), visit www.6ShortcutsToEngagement.com.

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Nursing Leaders: 3 Reasons to Swap Your Suit for Scrubs

I was presenting a program for the New York Organization of Nurse Executives and Leaders and asked the question “What do you regularly do to create positive connections with employees?” Our topic was employee engagement, and we were looking at high-impact, easy-to-implement ideas for leaders to take at the tactical level to move the needle on engagement.

Read more…

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