Beyond doubt

Keep it informal

The true strength in getting your people behind your mission in
times of struggle is pushing informal communications.

“Informal communications when you’re a senior leader are key,”
he says. “Whether it’s around the hospital, whether it’s when that
person is making rounds, or pre- or post-meeting, when you show
that you’re open, you show that you are willing to engage anyone
in any conversation, I think that helps promote the confidence that
you can raise issues whether it’s in an informal or formal meeting.”

There is no medicine that Degina has to make employees feel
that comfort. Instead, you have to focus on creating opportunities
to engage employees in informal conversations whenever possible. The more conversations you can have about the day’s news or
the success (or lack thereof) of the Dolphins, the more you can
slowly chip away at the walls between a CEO and front-line
employees.

“It starts with orientation,” Degina says of his methods. “Because
I go to every new employee orientation and talk to the new
employees about the facility and some of the things that I believe
are the keys to success. And one of those happens to be communication, and I actually delineate out what are the formal and informal ways that I see that communication can happen and obviously express my hope that they are confident to communicate in all
of those ways.”

Degina says he doesn’t put any conscious expectations on the
amount of time he gives to informal communications, but he feels
a natural pull to have a casual conversation whenever he’s around
employees. Even with that effort, some employees will be reluctant to bridge that gap, but as you continue to show them that you
are interested in talking at an informal level, barriers will begin to
fall. Even though it may not happen the first time or the second
time, eventually your attempts at being informal will reap benefits
in every communication forum, making people more comfortable
with speaking up or asking questions during difficult times.

“We have frequent enough meetings with employee groups at
large to know what’s out there, and we have an environment
where staff are very comfortable communicating with senior leaders,” he says.

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