I struggled with trying to get my staff to keep the exam lanes stocked. We had discussed the importance of doing so at staff meeting after staff meeting and it continued to be an ongoing problem. My doctor had finally had enough the day she reached for alcohol prep pads and exam gloves and didn't have any in the exam lane she was using. She came to me and vented. We had a staff meeting scheduled for the following morning and I thought about my doctor's frustrations and how I could get the point through to the staff in an impactful way. The next morning, the staff gathered for our monthly meeting. I asked everyone "Who makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for their family?" Everyone raised a hand. Then I asked "Who thinks they can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and pour glass of milk in a minute or less?" Again, everyone raised a hand.
I asked for two volunteers. Cathy and Sue eagerly stood up. I said, "Let's time you both and see who can make a PBJ and pour a glass of milk the fastest." I had set up two stations where they could make their sandwiches. "On your mark, get set... GO!" I started the timer.
Both staff members set about making their PBJ. Almost immediately, Cathy turned to me and said "I don't have a knife for my peanut butter." "Oh! I'm sorry! I must have forgotten to get a knife" I said, "Go run and grab one quickly from the kitchen." Cathy ran into the kitchen while the other staff member kept making her PBJ. Finally, Cathy returned and set about making up for lost time until she went to pour the glass of milk and realized she didn't have a glass. "I'm sorry", I said - I forgot to get a glass for you. I'm sure there's one in the kitchen." "Cathy jumped up and ran to the kitchen again - this time smiling since she and everyone else present knew the point I was making.
By this time, Sue had completed her task - a delicious looking PBJ and glass of milk were sitting in front of her. Cathy, returned with an empty glass from the kitchen. She was a little out of breath. She poured her glass of milk. "Done!" she exclaimed.
I asked Cathy if she thought she could have beat Sue if she'd had all the supplies she needed. She emphatically said "Yes!"
I said "Sue isn't necessarily a faster sandwich maker but she was able to finish first because she had all the supplies she needed at hand. Every time you have to leave your work area to get supplies you are making yourself less efficient and unnecessarily increasing patient processing time and patient waits. My staff finally got the point.
Sometimes you've got to think outside the box to drive home a simple point. The next time your staff meeting agenda looks like a copy of last months' agenda, see if you can use fun, simple yet memorable ways to illustrate your point.