The following story was told by Kristin Baird, president of Wisconsin-based Baird Consulting.
Client: A small (750 employees) Midwestern United States critical access hospital.
Problem: The hospital approached Baird for assistance because employee engagement was suffering.
Cause: Patient satisfaction was low and not improving in spite of management's efforts. Additionally, some of the organization's star performers were on the brink of leaving because their nonperforming co-workers remained on staff. The hospital leaders discovered that a lack of employee engagement was the root cause of patients' poor experiences and high-performing employees' frustration.
Methods/Tools: Baird worked with hospital managers to identify employees' engagement levels as fully engaged, engaged, somewhat engaged, or disengaged. The managers identified the behaviors, performance, and effects on others that employees displayed at each level of engagement. Baird calculated employee productivity against the hospital's wage and benefits offerings to show managers how much disengagement was costing them. This bottom line measure got the leaders' attention.
Next, Baird taught the managers approximately 50 drivers of engagement. She trained them to conduct a one-on-one critical conversation with every employee to learn what was most important to them, what their current environment was like, and what leadership could do to improve their engagement. After these conversations, managers created action plans with employees to fulfill their expressed engagement needs and desires. Finally, Baird taught the managers how to move employees from one engagement level to the next through coaching, communication and feedback skills, and compassion.
Baird also coached managers who expressed the need for additional help. In particular, one nursing manager's department was recently reorganized, and she had three employees who were under disciplinary action. Baird taught her the skills needed to more fully engage her staff. After two months, the manager reported seeing a change in her employees, and by six months, she felt she had mastered the skills and could move forward. Not one of her employees was terminated.
End Results/Solution: Patient satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and employee engagement improved. Star performers became more engaged when they saw their leaders start to take action.