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    The three-legged stool approach to physician burnout

    Approximately two years ago, when Mission Health in Asheville, North Carolina, gave their standard employee engagement survey, only 17.5% reported being “fully engaged.” That’s “where everybody’s really onboard, believes in the mission and engaged in their daily work,” says Ronald A. Paulus, MD, president and chief executive officer.

    After implementing a three-pronged approach, just a year and a half later, 40% of employees reported being fully engaged. “It was a dramatic change,” Paulus, a former practicing internist, told Medical Economics.

    They achieved this by rolling out what Paulus describes as “a three-legged stool.”

    Increasing team engagement

    Based on the work of Marcus Buckingham, a lead researcher for Gallup polls, and author of the book Strengths Finder, Paulus and colleagues took to heart the advice that “you can separate out high-performing teams from low-performing teams by how frequently they interact, and how often individuals get to work in their areas of strength,” Paulus explains.

    Using an app derived from the Strengths Finder book, which “elucidates your main strengths,” he says, each team member checks in with their team leader at the beginning of every week. A team leader is not necessarily one’s boss, either. “Teams are dynamic; they form and re-form\ and so forth,”

    Each week, the team leader asks each team-member three things: what they need from the team leader, what they loved about their week and what they loathed. “That gives you insights into the highs and lows, and allows you to redirect people out of the lows,” Paulus says.

    Then they list their priorities for the week. The team leader might help them to change these if needed.

    Lastly, they rate themselves on two characteristics:
    • How much value do I feel like I contributed last week?
    • How much did I get to work in my strengths last week?

    This creates a kind of “real-time, concurrent view of an employee engagement survey,” Paulus says, that allows team leaders to observe and comment. This “continuous feedback” is the first, most important leg of the stool.

    Next: Reducing hassles

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