This Article is About
cushy chairs
closed doors
narrative form
cecelia
little man
insight
insights
Meetings About Nothing
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Communication between departments and people is necessary for optimal success of an organization. Sometimes it is good to regularly communicate with groups even or people even if no specific information is being delivered. Over the past 20 years I have had a successful career in health care in both senior leadership and entrepreneurial positions, and I believe much of my success was because of my ability to have open lines of communication, or meetings about nothing, with many departments and people. The merits of this will be discussed below in narrative form.

"Hey, Elain," I said flopping down on one of the cushy chairs that faced her desk.

Elain was the director of nursing on the medical-surgical floor. She was not a direct report of mine, but a person I liked to visit regularly. I had developed a great deal of appreciation for Elain's insights and observations regarding the hospital's nursing operations. The regular visits not only gave me a view from the outside of my departments, but some insight and understanding as to how things were going with the nurses. We used each other as sounding boards, offered suggestions when it seemed fitting, and offered support for the other when needed. Lots of time we just joked back and forth.

"Not much right now, Jay. I am pretty much hiding in here, hoping that Ben doesn't find me," she said. Ben was the director of nursing and whom Elain reported to. He was a little man with an enormous head for his size. He was pleasant to everyone in public, but alone, behind closed doors he was not as pleasant. I pretended to look both ways. "Man, I don't want to see that guy either. I am having a pretty good day to this point," I said.

"What are you up to?" Elain asked.

"Well, I have had a pretty busy morning meeting with Elliott, Natalie, and Cecelia, and I thought I would take a bit of a break and stop up here." Elliott, Natalie, and Cecelia are all direct reports of mine.

"Yeah," Elain said. "I was talking with Marilyn this morning about the project team she is on with Cecelia."

Marilyn is the director of the emergency department. She is not a direct report of mine, but another director level person I visit on a regular basis.

"Did she say how it was going?" I asked. Not doubting the words I had heard from Cecelia moments before, but just getting another perspective.

"Marilyn said that things were a bit shaky at the start, but the team seemed to have evolved and gotten over the hump," Elain answered.

I smiled and nodded. "That's good."

"You knew that already though, Jay," said Elain. "What is the real reason your here?"

I shook my head, "Honestly, Elain, I got nothing. I had a good morning, and I just thought I would come up and visit. I like to visit sometimes even when I don't have something pressing. If I only came when something was the matter, then no one would ever want to see me."

"Makes sense," she said.

"If I visit regular, then we have open lines of communication, and you don't ever mind when I show up. If I did come with a pressing issue, well, we know each other and could work it out amicably."

"I wish Ben would do that. Only time I see that guy is when he is furious about something," Elain said.

"Well," I said, "He has got a lot on his plate. He is putting out fires left and right."

"Fires he's making," Elain interjected.

"Some he did have a hand in," I said to her, "But many he did not. I imagine that once he gets things a little better in control here, he will visit with nothing in particular to talk about. Just like I am doing." I made a note to tell Ben next time I saw him to make rounds without an agenda. I hoped he listen.

"I guess your sort of right, Jay," Elain said. "I hope it happens soon."

"Me too," I disclosed. "Well, I guess my visit here is about over, Elain. Thanks for listening to me.

"It is always good to see you, Jay. Just to recap so I can put it in my file to Ben, we visited to keep the lines of communication open, to talk about my department's interactions with your departments, and to ferret out any other burning issues that may on the horizon."

"You can put that in your file if you want to, Elain," I said. I got up to leave.

"Good. What are you going to put in your leadership file?"

"What file?" I answered. "Have a good day, Elain."

"You, too, Jay," She said laughing, and I left.

Thanks for reading.


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  about 1 decade ago
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