So I have spent a lot of time in hospitals lately. And if that weren’t enough, we just finished mocking up a healthcare showspace upstairs at our headquarters location. Creepily accurate. And we are in the throes of the renewal process for our major medical insurance partners and are up to our elbows investigating Wellness Programs.
Anyway, with the recent birth of our first grandchild who needed to do a stay in the NICU at Children’s Hospital, I have been in medical settings even more than usual. As always, when I am in a new or unfamiliar situation, what I do is watch and listen. I learn. In this case, I’m just the grandparent, not the primary caregiver, so I am even less conspicuous when doing so. Plus, as you get old, you become invisible to most of the population anyway, but that’s a rant for another day.
The nurses in the NICU are young, vibrant, great communicators and wonderful teachers. They also deal with a ton of varied cases. They care for babies in all stages of development and illness and with parents, friends and family who have who knowledge of what is going on. They are expected to retain poise, professionalism and health under all sorts of battle conditions on a daily basis and show up as brilliant and informed medical practitioners. And how do they do that? Well, one thing I know that helps is great, functional furniture to work in. But that’s not it. They wash their hands.
In between patients. After a diaper change (good idea). Periodically. After touching the keyboard to chart. After shaking hands. All the time. It is a discipline.
A friend is an internist at a major hospital on Long Island and once told me the only key she knew to staying healthy was to wash her hands. Often. The right way; long enough with the right soap and water that is hot enough. At the NICU the protocol is posted on the wall.
So, what does that have to do with the Inspired Manager? How many encounters did you have today, when a staff member or colleague showed up at your door, downloading about current priorities, issues, frustrations, problems or anything else? Were you interrupted? Did you make space for them? Did you engage and allow them to handle their stuff or did you take on their stuff for them?
Washing your hands removes the residue of your prior task, prior mindset, prior business, finished or unfinished. If you use hand sanitizer it neutralizes it. You are then ready for the next task. Like listening. When you’re done, wash again, removing the last encounter and getting clean for the next one. Get clean in between each encounter, and don’t let anything spill over!
As I sit here, memories of botched encounters flash across my mind. I was interrupted. I was not fully present. As I slowly got disengaged from the prior issue and engaged in the new one, I wasn’t poised. I took on the tone of the person I was hearing instead of remaining present. I shudder at the look I must have had on my face.
So, now I keep hand sanitizer on the counter in my office. To do its job for sure.
And to help me do mine.