January 12, 2007

Prior survey spurred improvements

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Prior survey spurred improvements

Anyone who hasn't yet taken the opportunity to review and discuss last year's Employee Satisfaction survey scores should do so soon, because the next survey is scheduled for March.

This work isn't necessarily about rooting out irritants and soothing gripes that may have been voiced in the survey. Even if the scores of a particular workgroup are above average, there are various ways to look at the data and find opportunities for improvement.

Carol Eck is administrative director of the cancer patient care center. While her area produced generally high scores, those regarding involvement in organizational decisions happened to come in low compared to scores for other questions.

“I'm making a concerted effort to discuss with people organizational decisions and why they're being made; for example, the recent push to expand cardiovascular services, and how success in that area impacts us as a medical center.”

Each of the 14 managers who report to Eck has turned in an employee satisfaction improvement plan based on last year's survey scores.

Vanderbilt's Human Resources Department provides written guides and expert advice about working with survey results. In some cases, managers or teams of managers have viewed survey results and developed improvement plans on their own. In other cases, discussion of scores with front-line staff has provided the starting point.

Talking over the scores can make all the difference.

“You can't really make headway until you understand what's driving your scores,” said Jim Slater, department administrator of Cell and Developmental Biology.

The theme of his group's improvement effort turns out to be building trust and improving communication. An example: “We're going to try to make budget decisions more transparent to everyone in the group,” Slater said.

Todd Griner, nurse manager of three surgical units at Vanderbilt University Hospital, found high scores overall in his area. Griner is hoping to raise scores regarding pay by promoting job advancement along Vanderbilt's nurse career ladder, and he's giving increased attention to staff sensitivity regarding the degree of respect shown to them by physicians.

The administrative group in the Section of Surgical Sciences whooped it up when they got their March 2006 survey results.

“My original plan was for a beer-and-pizza party, but it wound up as a midday celebration with soda and pizza,” said David Noel, vice chairman for finance and administration. “As part of the celebration, we took an opportunity to look at the areas where we didn't do as well as we think we should.” All departments and divisions within the section held similar celebrations, reviewing their success and looking at areas for improvement.

Sandra Braun, manager of Vanderbilt Medical Group guest services and central registration, has seen scores rising for her area.

After looking at recent lower-scoring items and asking staff to comment, Braun and her supervisors are working to add work schedule flexibility and to grow a staff recognition program.

Human Resources' Organizational Effectiveness Team provides advice and coaching for leaders regarding community survey results. A Web site (http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/commsurvey/) provides tools and templates to guide the discussion of workgroup survey results, and provides tips for addressing each item from the survey.

Group information sessions (“Ask a Coach”) are available to help familiarize managers with these resources. Individual coaching sessions and expert intervention are also available. For more information, e-mail training@vanderbilt.edu, or call 322-8320.