If you are part of your hospital’s front-line staff, think about the last time a member of the executive team rounded in your department.  Did the staff scatter, hide behind the computer, and hope to not be noticed, or pretend to be too busy to be interrupted?  Did you take one for the team and entertain the executive until they finally left?

As a CEO performing my rounds, this is sure how it felt to me.  

A little secret about me: I am a total introvert.  When I tell people this, most laugh and insist that I am joking.  But naturally, I am shy and not very outgoing in social settings. I know as an executive it is important to be visible, accessible, and present across the organization. Even though making rounds is hard for me, I have learned over the years of my professional career how to better relate to others and how to engage staff in a meaningful way. 

Although my introverted tendencies make rounding somewhat uncomfortable for me, I have learned to love rounding and very much believe in the value it brings to being a successful CEO.  Rounding affords me the opportunity to get out of my office and see the work happening in real time.  I hopefully can get a few minutes with several staff members and have a meaningful conversation about their work. On a really good day, I will stumble upon a problem or need that I can actually help with in the moment.  

I use rounding as a learning opportunity.  I learn more about our staff, the work environment, what is working, definitely what isn’t working (those people are never shy), and hopefully take away new knowledge that leaves me knowing more about the organization than I did before.  

On one of my most memorable days of rounding, I met Nurse Jackie.  She taught me one of the most valuable lessons in my career: simply knowing is much different than truly understanding.

Nurse Jackie noticed me rounding and spending a few minutes in each department around the hospital.  She also noticed that occasionally I would spend a concentrated few hours in a department trying to get to know the staff and become more familiar with their day to day work.  Jackie also heard through the grapevine that employees dreaded the extended visits because the only thing worse than your boss hovering, was your boss’s boss hovering and asking a lot of questions.  

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Author: Renee Jensen

Renee Jensen is an executive leader and performer with over 19 years of experience developing and leading strategic transformation, innovation, change management, and optimization efforts for healthcare organizations. An expert in public hospital district operations and integrated healthcare systems, she is a trusted and effective leader who values transparency and exhibits the ability to implement cultural change and drive financial results.