Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Going Undercover

Larry O'Donnell, President & COO of Houston-based Waste Management.
Source: Dan Littlejohn: CBS

Well, the new show Undercover Boss on CBS just started after the Superbowl starring the President & COO of Waste Management. On Monday, I was walking through the different units and at least five people asked me if I had plans to go "undercover." Interestingly enough, I have done this at St. Joseph Medical Center (SJMC) and most of my previous employers. Since word gets around quickly, it has to be done early into the job or in areas where people do not know you. I tend to get around on a lot of shifts, days and departments so I am familiar with the majority of our team even if I have not met everyone.

I would like to share some of my experiences going undercover at SJMC and prior employers:

- Housekeeping /Environmental Services (EVS)
- Barista in our coffee shop
- Omelet maker

In EVS, I had a whole unit of staff ignore me for a couple of hours. Not even a greeting came my way when I said hello first. It was not until I changed back into my suit when people quickly looked up and realized I was the one cleaning their patient rooms.

At the coffee shop many people were extremely friendly though appeared to be in a rush - very typical of coffee drinkers.

As an omelet maker, it was a mixed crowd. I had my badge flipped backwards for awhile and found myself in a similar situation as I did when in EVS. After flipping my badge around to show my title, I noticed people changed their approach.

Overall, most people were cordial but not as engaging as I would want to see as an employee. There has certainly been an opportunity across all my employers where all employees could be more engaging and supportive of one another.

In prior organizations, I started monthly breakfast meetings which allowed an opportunity for employees to understand the direction for the organization and share their thoughts on ways we could make the hospital a better place for patients, physicians and each other. It also allowed people the opportunity to meet and "break bread" with other departments which fostered collaboration across the hospital. We are starting similar breakfasts next week at St. Joseph Medical Center.

And yes, I am open to going undercover in your area...let me know if you have an interest.

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