1. Hader, Richard RN, CNA, CHE, CPHQ, PhD, FAAN, Editor-in-Chief

Article Content

Staying connected to work while you're away is easier than ever. Cell phones, personal digital assistants, beepers, and wireless Internet connections make it virtually impossible to miss a call or e-mail. Your manager, peers, and staff have easy access to you 24/7-even holidays, family vacations, and other instances of personal time away from work.

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

Hi-tech, open access devices provide enormous benefits for leaders. They're real-time mechanisms for horizontal and vertical communication, rapid deployment of vital information, and a means to stay in touch with staff members who work opposite schedules than your own. These new technologies have eliminated the need for outdated communication books and memos that clutter bulletin boards. Advances foster a more transparent management style because they provide a conduit to render and receive feedback needed to enhance a shared governance work environment.


Those are the benefits of being constantly connected to work. But as you know, there are several serious pitfalls. Since you can always be reached, your staff members may avoid making decisions on their own because they're relying on you as their electronic backup. This availability can cause them to relinquish responsibility and mitigate autonomous behavior.


If we, as leaders, weren't so readily accessible, our team members would be forced to critically analyze the situation and render an opinion on their own. Chances are they'd come to the right conclusion and professionally grow from making the decision themselves.


Accessing work e-mails while you're off-site only prolongs your workday. Checking messages from home can cause you to become engulfed in work, and before you know it, several hours have passed and you're still not caught up. This can cause fatigue and mitigate the necessary enthusiasm you need to be successful in your role.


Disallowing the ability to rejuvenate will ultimately result in burnout, placing you at a professional disadvantage. Neglecting personal responsibilities because you're spending too much time electronically connected adds anxiety and stress; it takes you away from your ability to meet personal commitments.


Are you on the verge of electronic burnout? If so, don't neglect some basic management tenets. Foster an environment where others can make decisions when you aren't available. Delegate responsibility to others so that the business of the unit won't be stalled when you're absent.


These steps will engage staff members and instill a sense of accountability throughout your organization. Although staff members know they'll be able to reach you, they'll be less inclined to contact you if they feel empowered to make decisions.


Staying connected in healthcare's rapid pace is essential for success. But be sure to use these tools to enhance your own productivity, meet staff's needs, and avoid getting bogged down in electronic minutiae. Remember, set those ring tones and out-of-office assistants prior to leaving each day.


Richard Hader