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To All The Things I've Learned Before (2019)

Categories: General

Can you all believe that 2019 is over? I am still somewhat in denial, and we are essentially two months into 2020. So as I accept the fact that a new year is upon us, I think it is fitting to reflect over professional accomplishments and my biggest “learning opportunities”. Doesn’t that sound better than the word failure? Failure is just such a strong word. So those that know me personally know that I had a pretty big 2019. For those that do not know me you now must wait in anticipation for what all that entailed. Yay!

So let us begin with my professional accomplishments of 2019. As a reminder, I am the Employee Relations Manager at St. Bernards Medical Center in Jonesboro. We have over 3,500 employees in our healthcare system, and I have the privilege of assisting our leaders and staff with workplace concerns and facilitating positive working relationships. Never a dull day! In addition I also manage several processes and projects within my HR department. One of which I began my 2019 with-completely redesigning my company’s employee handbook. I feel as if I started working on this project in 2007. Which yes 2007 my senior year of high school was probably the last time the employee handbook had been updated. Admittedly this project took me a while as I combed through 60 plus pages of proofreading, updating, and adding policies. Then I had others in the organization proofread and give their insight as well. Lastly, I had the final look over and approval from our legal department, and then the communication process to our staff began. Although I nearly went cross-eyed from weeks of review, I can truly say that I undoubtedly know the contents of my employee handbook, and the project served its purpose by making the handbook more clear, accessible, and comprehensive for our leaders and employees.

Next, I teamed up with my company’s Organizational Development Manager to “change the world as we know it at St. Bernards” Shout out to Amy Findley! We embarked on the journey of implementing brand new evaluations for our staff and leaders. Before Amy and I changed the world, our employees were evaluated on a 1-5 scale on their behavior and on performance standards pulled right from their job description. After speaking with other hospitals and extensive research we proposed that our employees be evaluated on a new rating scale of Highly Effective to Unsatisfactory and were rated on the same six core performance standards. For leaders instead of being rated and receiving our raises based on individual or organizational goals, we proposed that leader evaluations include leadership competencies in addition to these goals. Now I will say everything we proposed of course did not get approved. However, we are still satisfied with the headway we have made for our employees and the teachable moments we had for ourselves through this process. For us this was huge!

Lastly, I will mention my proudest professional accomplishment of 2019. Drumroll please….! I led the charge in creating St. Bernards first affinity group! An affinity group is a group of people with common interests, backgrounds, and experiences who come together to support each other. Our first affinity group is for our African American employees whom we aptly titled LEAAP (Leading and Emerging African American Professionals). What we have accomplished in our very first year is remarkable, and has helped strengthened my leadership skills to the nth degree. For starters, we planned three huge and completely different events for our community in our Staying Alive Series-a health fair for Heart Health awareness, a panel discussion for Mental Health awareness, and a gala for Diabetic Health awareness. Just last week we hosted Northeast Arkansas’ first Diversity & Inclusion conference in which we had nearly 200 participants. I could go on and on so LEAAP deserves a blog all to itself. Stay tuned!

So with the accomplishments of 2019, undoubtedly came opportunities. With every conflict resolution or employee disciplinary or termination meeting I always ask myself “What worked well and what did not work so well? “Could I have handled that situation differently?” “What are my takeaways?”  Always remembering my purpose as a mediator, listener, trouble solver, business partner, change agent, and an advocate for our employees, leaders, and patients.

And lastly my personal accomplishments. Yes, I had you wait to the very end. So I mentioned in my first blog that I traveled to Europe last spring. One of my dreams come true! I then took part in the Broadway musical production of Hairspray as “Cool Kid Sue” last summer. Another dream of mine! Then to top it off I started building my custom dream home becoming a first time homebuyer on Friday, December 13th, 2019. Yes, I closed on a Friday the 13th which was very fitting considering my home building and purchasing process. Blessings abundant! #shedidthat

So now I encourage you all to reflect upon your accomplishments and opportunities of 2019 as we tackle 2020 with vigor!

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