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“Getting to know each other” proves successful strategy for Referral Center team

When rapid growth hits a department or entity, more than the bottom line feels the effects. For the Baptist Medical Group Referral Center, rapid consolidation and new technology took its toll on team morale, leading everyone to reevaluate.

“In 2014, centralization and new team member transfers happened, and we grew really fast. We had no time to build a strong environment,” said Angela Fox, executive director of the Referral Center. Angela, who officially joined Baptist in June 2014, said the growth just exploded by late 2014.

As Baptist Medical Group grew, hundreds of team members were affected through reorganization during just a couple of years. Angela said one supervisor in particular noticed how the rapid growth began eroding morale. “She reached out to Evan for direction,” she said. Evan Nelson, a Human Resources manager and trainer, plays a key role in Baptist’s onboarding process.

The entire group began identifying the biggest problems and landed on five key issues: noise level, internal communication, coverage and cross training, new staff onboarding and team morale. “It sounds simple, but even something like the amount of noise was causing stress. We’re essentially a call center,” said Angela.

While progress was made with noise, Angela admits that solving team morale was more challenging. The team decided to meet weekly to provide updates on the five key issues, as well as talk tactics. “We now have a suggestion box and hold special events,” said Angela.

Another commonsense approach resulted in real progress. “It sounds simple, but we decided to get to know each other. We held potlucks, celebrated babies being born and had holiday gatherings…sometimes during work hours, sometimes after work.”

Angela acknowledges that sometimes to do business, it’s necessary to put business aside for a moment. “We soon saw our productivity increase and our leakage decrease.”

She fully embraces the idea that the only way to improve is to recognize the opportunity to improve. “We’re all learning and reaching out for help. We’re making time to address issues.”

During the holiday season, Angela received a gift. “On their own, the group came up with the idea to pool their money and focus on others, not gifts.” About 15 team members provided a free dinner to families with a child in the NICU. “We brought food up to the NICU and fed everyone. We had so much food left over, we took some to labor and delivery and the Emergency department.”

In the end, getting to know each other, talking honestly, and reaching out to help others has proven to be the best path to a better team.

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