As a manager in a sterile processing department (SPD), you must manage a lot of change, whether it is incorporating new processes, moving personnel around, or dealing with a COVID environment. You have a lot on your hands. How your employees view you and your management style can make your department hum—or fall apart.
That’s where a humanistic management approach can make all the difference, and make your employees love their job. Humanistic management ensures that employees feel equipped to do their jobs, empowered to be a part of the process, and appreciated for their contributions.
It’s a management style that incorporates a people-focused mindset. Looking at each decision for how it will affect your staff creates an atmosphere where partnerships and playing to the strengths of your employees create a win-win.
There are three things you can do to create a humanistic management style:
1. Involve employees early on in the decision-making process.
Example: You are spending too much money on little-used DaVinci robotic arms, and running out of the ones the surgeons want when the OR schedule is heavy. Getting your staff on board for better tracking of the use and sterilization of the most requested arms can mean extra work setting up the system, but over time, it will help you stabilize inventory and better meet needs in a more cost-effective way.
Whenever new changes are on the horizon, hold a staff meeting to lay out the proposed changes, what the givens are, and what you have some control over. Your staff will want to know that how they view the proposed changes are heard and valued. You may be surprised when discussing the implementation of a proposed new process at the insights they can share that you may not have considered. For example, how could training be best fit into the schedule to cause the least disruption to workflow?
Your staff may not want the new process at all, but if you can explain why it is necessary for accuracy, greater efficiency and profitability, they may come around, especially if they have a say in how it is implemented. They may not be 100 percent happy with the final decision, but involving them in the process lets them know you care about their opinions.
2. Establish a process for giving feedback
You might have a regularly scheduled check-in on how the process is proceeding, or you just make it clear that if they have input, they can come to you at any time to share it. Some employees will be more likely to do that spontaneously than others, so regularly check in with those you don’t hear from. They may have the most resistance. Giving them an easy opportunity to share can have long-term benefits to department relations.
3. Provide outlets for personal growth and promotion.
Some of your employees may see themselves on a career path, while others just want to be comfortable in their jobs long-term. Both styles contribute to a smooth-running and dynamic SPD. By having one-on-one sessions with each employee, you can facilitate opportunities for growth in both types. Helping your aspiring managers take on more of the training responsibilities for new processes allows you to help them document their increased value to the institution. For the employee who wants to feel comfortable in job duties and as an accepted team member, provide training and opportunities to share insights in team meetings.
As the manager, you still have to make some hard decisions from time-to-time, but if you use a humanistic management approach, your employees will better accept them and in some cases, adopt them wholeheartedly because they were involved in the process. In our current climate of increasing complexity of procedures, instrumentation, and tracking requirements, putting your people first can make the difference in a patient’s life or the institution’s livelihood.