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A Simple Interprofessional Accountability Technique

Listening, validating and asking for a commitment

From Team-Building Handbook: Accountability Strategies for Nurses, by Eileen Lavin Dohmann, RN, MBA, NEA-BC

accountability scenario

When working with a group, I assume that people are rational and logical.

So, if I want them to do something, I just need to explain it and they’ll do it. When I don’t get the results I am seeking, I tend to think “Oh, I must not be explaining it well. Let me try it again.”

It’s taken me a long time to realize that what I was hearing as “not understanding me” was often someone’s polite way of telling me no. So, now when I find myself explaining the same thing to someone for the third time, I stop and ask the person what he or she is hearing me request. If I can validate that the person is hearing me correctly, I ask for the commitment: yes or no.

Validating… and asking for a yes or no

We can hold ourselves accountable, but holding other people accountable can be much more difficult. Consider this nurse-physician scenario and ask yourself [more]

Accountability looks good on you (and your staff)

I learn from every book I work on, but this latest one on accountability strategies really hit home. I now realize that when I say “I’ll try” to do something by a particular date, I haven’t truly committed to being accountable for the deadline. And when I hear the same words from someone else, I no longer take “I’ll try” to mean the commitment all managers want to hear from an engaged staff: the definitive YES.

I’ll try is what I say when I don’t really see how I’ll be able to I'll Trymake the commitment, but don’t stop to think about what’s in the way. Do I lack the resources, the bandwidth, or (worse) the interest? Am I just allergic to saying a simple “no” when I can’t squeeze the proverbial 10 pounds of sugar into a five pound bag?

As a manager whose goal is positive outcomes from an engaged staff, you need to train your ear to “hear” the difference between words that indicate accountability and those that fall short. Your staff can do the same, and when you’re all hearing and speaking the language of accountability, good things will happen.

 

accountability book and handbook togetherTo find out more about building accountability in your staff, go to the web page for the team-training handbook, Team-Building Handbook: Accountability Strategies for Nurses. For ideas on how to develop a culture of accountability starting with yourself, visit the web page for Accountability in Nursing: Six Strategies to Build and Maintain a Culture of Commitment.

Both are from Eileen Lavin Dohmann, MBA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC,  the Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Mary Washington Healthcare in Fredericksburg, Virginia.