Keeping the Lines of Communications Open: A Lesson from Columbus Regional Hospital


Like most organizations, Columbus Regional Hospital (CRH) looks to both formal and informal communications to reach its employees. 
 
On the formal side, weekly electronic updates are sent each Monday to staff detailing “what’s going on organizationally to what I’m personally engaged in that week as the CEO of the hospital and why,” offers Jim Bickel.
 
“The theme, obviously, since we reopened (in October) after the flood has certainly been how we are doing on our flood recovery efforts – that’s from a facility prospective as well as the financial impact of it.”
 
A monthly newsletter called In the Know covers a wide variety of topics for the CRH workforce. Weekly leadership meetings are held consisting of the 50-plus executive team members, directors and managers across the organization. “What’s covered in those meetings is expected to go back to their staff. It’s an opportunity for myself and the rest of the executive team to have dialogue with the department heads about issues they are facing,” Bickel states.
 
Informal communication is also critical.

“As I’m out and about here in the office and as other senior leaders, director or mangers are out, we make it a habit of catching up with employees in various departments on how things are going. We ask, ‘do you have what you need to do your job?’ We ask what’s going well. We really like to harvest and mine for the things that we’re doing well, as well as areas that we need to improve,” Bickel shares.
 
The door is always open in Bickel’s office, as well for employees to return the favor and stop by. 
 
It’s that long-standing CRH approach of the executive team “that drew me here 13 years ago,” offers Marlene Weatherwax, then a director and now vice president and CFO. “Frontline workers can have visibility with the executive team. People are on a first name basis. It’s a caring, friendly and nurturing environment.” 
 
Bickel surmises, “I look at this as we’re all in this together. Yes, I have the responsibility as the president and CEO to make sure that things happen and the ultimate accountability, but it’s all about working together, being able to come in and have really constructive dialogue, being able to answer questions and have that accessibility.”

CRH is, for the fourth year in a row, ranked as one of the Best Places to Work in Indiana. Read its impressive flood recovery story in BizVoice® magazine.

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