Hospital Trainer Offers Killer Tips for Preventing Brain Drain (Interview)

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    Molly McCauley Kelly is the Physician Support Coordinator for Hospital Corporation of America in Las Vegas, Nevada. She provides IT training and clinical application support for the physicians at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, Mountain View Hospital, and Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center, focusing on meeting the needs of physicians and their support staff in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. She can be contacted via LinkedIn.

    Q. Some hospitals suffer from high turnover. How do you handle “brain drain?”

    I will actually be facing this dilemma soon as we look to hire a replacement for my previous coworker. There are numerous challenges that organizations face especially when the employee who leaves had been with the organization for a number of years.

    First, there are the generational and cultural workplace differences that should be addressed. We should start with generational. The previous employee is in a completely different generation than myself. By no means does this say anything in regards to the level of intellect but instead the processes and procedures did not consistently blend with upcoming technology. Much of the knowledge was learned and stored mentally instead of documented in some sort of manual. Now, I personally find myself struggling to funnel through resources instead of having some sort of policy or operational guide for the position.

    There are times when management doesn’t really know what is happening. The management team knows the main functions of the role but ultimately there are numerous ongoing tasks in which no one was aware. I have seen and experienced this firsthand to delineate all of our duties to discover that about half of the time we were doing the same job and the other half of the time it was as though we were in different roles. One of the key reasons this happened is that although the position and the job description evolved at a higher level, the duties of the position did not continue to evolve.

    Now that I have had the opportunity to work for and with so many different organizations especially when I traveled to various companies and organizations, I see how this negatively impacts companies. New employees are often spending valuable time reinventing the wheel for the processes that could have been documented. I have seen first had how companies had to spend valuable dollars on having a software trainer train a new hire because the previous person resigned and left no resources for the new person. The new employee could instead have a document that delineates the role with the understanding that the position will evolve and procedures will most likely be modified as advancements are made.

    Next there are also organizational changes and the evolution of positions within an organization.

    To grow a more efficient and productive company, employers must recognize the need for establishing and maintaining an operations guide for each position in their organization. Companies can no longer afford to assume that people will stay in a role indefinitely nor can they afford to train just one person on a task. There should always be resources and plans to ensure that necessary tasks are completed. With the changing corporate culture and increased accountability through annual goal setting, companies can begin to address this situation. One of the annual goals for each department or role in the organization should be to develop such a document and even supplement it with webinars or other support tools. Yes this is time consuming but it really will evolve into much more than just a document but an exercise in revisiting the jobs and responsibilities to determining if all processes and duties are truly bringing benefit to the organization. Or are we simply doing a job the same way because that is how it was always done? How many times have you had the opportunity to ask yourself why am I doing a task and why is it done this way, only to find yourself wondering if it is really adding any value to the company at all? Doing this sort of exercise will raise eyebrows, it has been my experience that people do not like to change the way they have been performing their job and because of the process evolution the companies can start eliminating outdated and unnecessary tasks to be replaced with tasks that are progressive and add value to the organization.

    Completing an exercise like the one mentioned will also help senior management understand what their staff truly is doing. This is not to create an environment of micromanagement but instead addressing processes in order to create a more progressive organization.

    Q. Have you experienced any training solutions worth sharing?

    I have had extremely positive experiences with mentoring programs, learning management systems and formal training programs within companies. No matter how brilliantly written an operations manual is or how great the LMS webinars are, these tools should be supplemented with a mentoring program.

    I served as a mentor at General Electric for new employees, the position I held prior to coming to HCA. Since our team was remote and most members live over 250 miles from each other, mentoring served as an educational tool as well as a team building tool. Each new person had a maximum of 3 months to travel and make onsite visits with their coach. Ultimately, it takes a combination of tools to bring new hires up to speed expeditiously and with best skills and resources to succeed.

    These processes and tools and become ineffective when they are neglected. New employee resources and ongoing development tools should be updated with accurate and relevant information so they continue bring to bring value to the organization.

    Q. Where do you think learning communities fit in this mix of training solutions?

    I would like to see a future where online learning communities are considered just as exciting and important as Twitter, Facebook and Linked In. I see blogs where questions are posted and months pass with no response. Of course there are always a few dedicated individuals who diligently respond but I would like to see communities and groups of people dedicated to sharing their knowledge, industry insight, and new ideas.

    Q. Where might a training professional fit in this future?

    In my professional experiences, the companies that are willing to evolve and look to innovative solutions will have the most success. Mistakes will happen along the way and lessons will be learned. We need to embrace all of the great knowledge and skills that we have in our workforce and grow the talent by being open and receptive to new ideas, technologies and processes.

    In training and development, the role of understanding how adults learn and designing tools to train different styles of learning will continue to be an invaluable asset. The way previous generations learn and apply skills in the work force will be much different than those upcoming workforce generations.

    Q. Molly, thanks for making the time. Any resources you’d recommend for our readers to learn more?

    ASTD American Society for Training & Development is by far one of my favorite resources. It is a great network of professionals with diverse back grounds to network and find best practices. I have read several books from them as well. One of my favorites is the 10 Minute Trainer: 150 Ways to Teach It Quick and Make it Stick! by Sharon L. Bowman.

    Another is the eLearning Guild. This resource is definitely great for planning, developing and deploying elearning tools.

    I also refer to not only for personal development but also as a resource to see some examples of e-learning or webinars. The ones I have seen on this site really show how both the verbal delivery of training and content presentation complement each other instead of merely reading from PowerPoint slides.

    One of my favorite books currently is Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. I picked this book up at Photoshop World about two years ago and it is still a great resource. With the demand of better documentation, companies are confusing PowerPoint presentations for manuals. Some people who develop presentations end up creating a poorly designed presentation that fails to reach their audience.

    I also find that branching out of Healthcare and looking towards other industries also helps me evolve my skills as well. One of the people who has been a great influence is Scott Kelby who is a renowned Photoshop guru. He has written numerous books, has an excellent team of trainers and has a conference twice a year geared for Photoshop. Even if photography is not your industry, just watching or listening to the training is a great experience.

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