By Jeffrey Ruiz, CHTM

HTM professionals have so many challenges to address, but with so many dashboards and indicators the industry uses to meet goals, we are distancing ourselves from our greatest assets: our teams. In an era where encouragement and inspiration for our teams is essential, we may be too caught up in letting key performance indicators (KPI) dictate how HTM decisions are made.  

Another “KPI” the industry may want to consider adopting is “Keeping People Inspired.”

Keeping People Inspired

The goal is straightforward: to better take care of our team members. Our greatest assets are the people who work every day to meet the needs of clients, hospitals, caregivers, and patients. Our successes are entirely dependent on these amazing individuals.  

However, if HTM leaders do not provide an environment for engagement—a place where these professionals can best be themselves, where they are heard, and can better contribute to the industry—we are then negatively impacting our greatest component to success.

Earlier in my leadership career, I worked in the home care setting, an industry that is relatively “smaller” than the hospital space. We had team members who were underpaid and had to work long days and evenings. They also had to make deliveries and service calls in less-than-desirable areas. In this setting, we were demanded to meet key goals and objectives. But no matter how direct the message was to meet the goals and objectives, it fell on deaf ears of the team. I took a different approach when I entered the leadership role.

Leading During Challenges

So how do we lead in difficult environments? Simply build trust within the team, and  show that you care. For example, take them out to breakfast or have pizza waiting for them when they come back from a long service run. Keep the environment relaxed, share fun times with them. Most importantly, create a safe space for them to voice their concerns or simply vent after a long day. Have discussions with the team showing how their work can be used to build a better future, and provide guidance and support to put them on a career path for success. I am proud to share that many of the team members who I previously worked with moved on to become BMETs, respiratory therapists, physicians, directors of facilities, and successful leaders in many industries beyond Healthcare.

We can still use these lessons from years ago to inspire our teams today. First look to your teams for possible solutions, and seek feedback from everyone. Each idea should be freely accepted into the discussion. Encourage the team to identify solutions that will ensure a successful outcome. Use social events as times to connect and help drive discussions about career aspirations. Try not to just sit at the head of the table, but spend time with as many folks as possible. Also, use social settings as a place to help create ideas for challenging obstacles. Sometimes being in an environment outside of the clinical area can help cultivate discussions to address tricky and persistent challenges.

Ask your team if they have the tools they need to succeed. Nothing helps a technician more than getting the necessary tools to make tasks more productive or safer to perform.

Also, develop a “promote from within” mindset. You want the members of your team to see opportunities for career growth within the organization. Organizations should be conducting yearly staffing reviews, but there should also be biannual one-on-one check-ins. These check-ins should not entirely be focused on an end goal but be used to see how the team members’ respective career paths are progressing. Identify any training that would help better position them for success. This could include leadership training or specialized training, such as cyber or IT network related.

You may also want to share individual wins with the team and provide recognition internally. If you have projects, you may consider using your team members as leads for these. When the team offers solutions, decisions to act on them should be made quickly. Again, it’s critical to create a work setting that is welcoming to all. Everyone may have something to contribute, and we want to make sure our team’s culture and environment display this.

It’s a given that our world is driven by meeting key goals and performance indicators. However, KPIs should not be the only motivator for the team. Keeping teams inspired is also an essential “KPI” that should be focused on. If HTM leaders can focus on that, the rest will fall into place.

Jeffrey Ruiz, CHTM, is senior site manager for West Michigan. Questions and comments can be directed to [email protected].