Maybe the Small Things Do Matter Most

Most of us have read and quickly grasped Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, by Richard Carlson. In the context of his writing, that is probably pretty good advice. However, when it comes to managing and leading people, the small stuff really seems to matter.

This was driven home to me this week when I was out touring one of our hospital facilities. We had an opportunity to see, first hand, the great work that the nurses, staff and administrators do to take care of our patients. I will say that group of people deserve huge accolades. They give of themselves tirelessly and passionately, never allowing one person to feel like they are simply just another number.

One of the nurses giving us a tour said that she works for her hospital because of the manager who she first worked for in a temporary basis. She said, “I just loved my manager, so when she asked me to come on full time, I jumped at the chance.” I asked her what it was that made her love her manager. She said, “You want to know what the key to being a great manager is?” Of course as a leadership coach, I was anxious to hear her describe it. I am not sure what I was thinking might come next, but the answer she gave was not it. She said, “The key to being a great manager is ensuring I get my 30 minute lunch break.” She went on to explain that the job of a nurse never lets up as long as there are patients with needs and paperwork to complete. She said if the manager didn’t insist that we take our break, none of us would, except the smokers. She went on to say how important it is for her to get the break, step away from the demands, catch her breath, relax a moment, or make a phone call.

As I said, that is not what I expected to hear, but it drives home how important it is for a manager to be truly sensitive and responsive to the needs of their employees, especially the “Small Stuff”. This is only one example of managers and leaders at this hospital making this a daily practice. As a result, we witnessed fully engaged, smiling and happy employees who were passionate about their work and taking care of their patients, or as they put it, Friends and Family Taking Care of Friends and Family in their community. I am confident that the result of their efforts will be equally satisfied patients and doctors whom this group serves.

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