November 14, 2022

Clinical enterprise elevate retreat seeks to enhance health system culture

More than 60 leaders from across Vanderbilt Health system recently gathered to attend a clinical enterprise Elevate retreat hosted by C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer.

More than 60 leaders from across Vanderbilt Health system recently gathered to attend a clinical enterprise Elevate retreat hosted by C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer.

Elevate is the name for VUMC’s efforts to advance and enhance culture and encompasses foundational elements of our workplace such as the Credo, the Patient and Family Promise and our Statement of Purpose, which includes our Mission and Strategic Commitments. These elements, along with other aspects of our culture help guide how we interact with each other, our patients and their families.

The retreat, which was held in the Center for Strategy and Innovation, organized by Chad Fitzgerald, JD, Senior Vice President, Emergency Operation, and facilitated by the Medical Center’s administrative fellows, was a proactive gathering of individuals from throughout the health system who all want to make VUMC a better place to work. The retreat offered the opportunity to gain consensus among leaders from the clinical enterprise so that plans can be proposed to address thematic issues that are barriers to optimal workplace satisfaction for all employees who will soon be asked for their input in developing these plans.

The retreat sought to address five broad areas that were identified in VUMC’s most recent Community Survey that are associated with culture and where employees are suggesting there is opportunity for improvement: communication, teamwork, career development, respect and empowerment.

“The annual engagement survey is essential to understand the concerns of our workforce. Today’s retreat is our focused time for just this purpose,” Pinson said. “I am confident the results of our work will enhance our workplace and empower our people.”

Before the retreat, leaders were assigned to workgroups for each area and were charged with offering functional tactics that would enhance or improve workplace satisfaction. Then, members of each workgroup gave presentations to discuss what tactics their group would suggest for improving employee satisfaction. The group’s reaction resulted in creative discussions and potential advances for each of the five themes.

After the group discussion, where a range of tactics were discussed, each participant was asked to vote on which tactic they felt would be the most beneficial. For example, during the discussion two potential tactics were identified to improve communication: for managers to hold more frequent huddles to effectively convey information directly to their teams, or as an alternative approach, a variety of personalized communication methods can be offered so that each employee can receive information in a way that best suits their needs. The group decided that a variety of communication methods is the best option, so the next step involves creation of a workgroup and workstream that will be tasked with further refinement of approaches for improvement, followed by implementation.

Creative ideas supporting each area’s best tactic were then discussed by the entire group regarding how each might be best operationalized or introduced into the workplace. From this discussion ideas and suggestions took shape.

Two actions were discussed and adopted by the group to facilitate cultural advancement:

  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, there will be a moratorium on meetings across the institution from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. each Monday. Instead, this time is to be devoted to leadership huddles and rounding and listening to our workforce. Leaders for each entity will communicate to their staffs how the meeting moratorium applies.
  • The creation of a system-wide Employee Advisory Council. Amy Schoeny, PhD, Chief Human Resources Officer, will serve as the executive sponsor for this initiative.

“I think the actions we have discussed today are going to be very important overall as we synchronize our workforce. The tactics discussed will be key as we seek to address the challenges we have ahead,” Pinson said.

Medical Center administrative fellows who facilitated the retreat were: Bridgette Boyle, MHA, Reshma Cheeran, MHA, McKayle Fuller, MHA, Kara Keiper, MHA, Bianca Sarr, RN, BSN, MHA, and Tanna Walker, BSN, MSHA.