The Importance of Active Listening

The Importance of Active Listening

Children’s hospital chief nursing officer says finding ways to engage—and listen to—your staff is key to a successful organization.

As a chief nursing officer, Jayne Gmeiner faces a long to-do list on a daily basis. But when it comes to managing her team, she says one duty rises above the others.

“Spend as much time as you can listening—and then act on that listening,” says Gmeiner, chief nursing officer at Dayton Children’s Hospital in Ohio. “It’s so important in our work as leaders to really listen to the individuals who are responsible for taking safe and fantastic care of our patients and families.”

Gmeiner seeks out the voices of her staff through a variety of platforms:

  • Rounding. In addition to regular check-ins with her nursing units, Gmeiner accompanies the hospital’s safety team on its rounds.
  • Shared governance. Dayton Children's introduced the shared governance model in 2010 to provide nurses at all levels an opportunity to help guide the organization’s direction. “I do everything I can through our governance council and staffing committee to ensure our nursing caregivers have voices internally,” Gmeiner says.
  • Peer groups. Gmeiner also works to lift the voices of Dayton Children’s staff members through professional societies, such as the Ohio Organization for Nursing Leadership.

Face-to-face feedback is paramount

Though there are many ways to facilitate listening, Gmeiner says there’s no substitute for being present and available for staff members to share their thoughts and opinions. She cites the success of recent efforts to address employee wellness in the wake of COVID-19 as a prime example of its importance.

“The best method is being on your feet, being out and really just listening to the staff,” Gmeiner says. “That’s why our employee well-being task force got started.”

Read more from Dayton Children’s: Gmeiner collaborates with chief nursing officers from other area hospital systems to promote compassion and well-being for nurses.

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