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Does first party communication work?

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by MK1908 MK1908 (New) New

I'm a manager in a skilled nursing/rehab facility. One of the biggest issues I'm having right now is that people are coming to me complaining about their coworkers. I always get "she's lazy" or "she takes too many breaks" or "all she does is sit around all day". Obviously, if patient care is compromised then I investigate further. However, when I suggest that this person have a conversation with the person they are complaining about, they look at me like I just fired them.

I want my staff to hold each other accountable for their actions. I KNOW that first party communication works, as we implemented it in a prior facility that I worked at and morale improved greatly. I even ask the "complainer" to put their concerns down on paper, and that if it needs to be addressed I will do so. But...of course, I never get the concern on paper and the complaining continues.

Any suggestions on how to work this out??

A long time ago (before I was a nurse), I worked as a supervisor. I had 30 something people to supervise and as always, with this amount of people you can imagine that there were conflicts all the time. So, what I did (with the approval of the manager), besides listening to their main complains, I prepared a survey and gave it to the employees. It was an anonymous survey so no one would know what each other answered. After answering the questions, the person would fold the paper and put it inside of a locked box.

For instance, one of the main complains was about the break. Instructors were complaining that some people would leave for too long, while they were left dealing with complains of students. So, the question for this issue was: How long should the break be that allow a person to eat, use restroom, make personal phone calls, and etc...? Then I gave them options as answers: 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes.

I remember that there were around 10 questions in the first survey, with a blank space in the bottom for the employee to write their suggestions/concerns.

As with any democracy, the majority of answers chosen became the new policy. After having the issues addressed, we would make a memorandum and send out. Every employee had to sign it. This system worked for most of the main issues that directly dealt with management and policies. I think it's important to give a voice to employees so they can help set up policies that ultimately they are the ones who have to follow. It worked for me. Right now, I am considering administration/management in nursing and I wonder how that would be... I am still debating what MSN I should get and so on... so reading your posting was actually interesting to me. Good luck and keep us posted as it goes! :)

Oh, I forgot to mention one thing in my previous posting. I believe the employees are coming to you because they may feel that they have exhausted "all the above" options to address the issue. Maybe they have already talked to the person and nothing changed. Maybe the person who "sits around all day" feels like she/he can get away with it and will do it as long as she/he can. I believe that first part communication works when people are still in a "civilized state" (meaning not so mad or irritated at each other that the communication can potentially escalate to a verbal fight). Also, some people think that it's not their colleagues business to call their attention and tell them what to do. Now, when management steps in then it's a different picture. Those reviews by the end of the year can really make or break any employment/career... I don't know your employees and your workplace. I just give my two cents in agree with my experience in both ends (as an employee and as a supervisor). Sometimes it's easier to just go ahead and deal with the issue yourself than lose a good employee and keep a problematic one...