By Michael R. Fossick, Business Systems Analyst, OC Reilly, Inc.

(March 4, 2024)—While working on a supply room renovation project for a major East Coast health system, the team from OC Reilly worked to guide leaders toward the best operational-changing decisions they faced.  As always, we pursued a comprehensive approach, and while gathering information from nurse managers, it quickly validated the idea that the health system’s frontline staff nurses – the people impacted by the decisions being considered by leadership – needed to participate in the process, and did so, contributing valuable ideas and perspectives that only they could.

As Betsy Sanders, a national expert on effective business leadership, has stated, “To learn through listening, practice it naively and actively. Naively means that you listen openly, ready to learn something, as opposed to listening defensively, ready to rebut. Listening actively means you acknowledge what you heard and act accordingly.”  In practical application, that advice translates into simply giving frontline employees a means of offering their opinions and observations about processes, policies, and practices.  The results can be occasionally insignificant, but more often, they produce striking information that can make a meaningful impact.

Gathering this valuable information is only one half of the equation, however.  Frontline employees, if they are to be called on for their unique perspective, need to see their ideas evaluated fairly, with resulting changes taken as often as practically possible.

Just as important, asking for ideas and input – and creating an environment where such honest responses are treated with respect and without fear of retribution – shows that leaders value their employees’ thinking.

This explains why the OC Reilly team works in every customer engagement to solicit input from frontline employees involved in supply chain processes and their ripple effects across an organization.  The best information frequently comes from people with hands-on experience resulting from leadership decisions.  The best solutions and improvements often come from that same source.

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