October 12, 2007

elevate Answering the Tough Questions

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Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

QUESTION: Part of elevate is developing relationships with our staff members, connecting with them on a personal level and offering compassion and support during trying times, both personally and professionally. My question is, as we round and get to know our staff members better, how do we keep a sense of professionalism and maintain healthy boundaries in the office? How much is too much?

ANSWER: You provided the greatest gift that a manager can offer — asking how someone is doing and then listening and hearing their response.

Expressing our genuine empathy and concern is part of good leadership. The risk comes if the manager takes on a role of counselor or health care provider, losing the ability to objectively hold the employee accountable for doing the job.

Ultimately, that doesn't help the employee or the organization.

A good manager needs to be familiar with the many resources that Vanderbilt has to assist employees with personal and workplace problems, resources such as Work/Life Connections-EAP, Vanderbilt Valet, the Credit Union, etc.

Personal and professional boundaries are a practical necessity.

For an enterprise to thrive, we need to focus on the individual's performance in the workplace and provide compassion and support when the employee is experiencing one of life's challenges.

— Jim Kendall, manager, Work/Life Connections-EAP