Even CEOs are beginners…sometimes

Over the next few months, Relias Learning is launching an initiative focusing on the importance of employee engagement in the healthcare industry. We will be sharing our thoughts and ideas with you on topics including onboarding, retention, leadership, professional development and others. We are also very interested in learning what you’re doing to engage your employees, so please feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts.


Years ago I worked in the child welfare industry and one of the things that struck me about the teenagers I worked with was how they jumped around developmentally. There were times during a shift where a 15 year old would behave like a 5 year old, needing that level of care and understanding, and other times when I felt like I was talking to a 25 year old.  The abuse and other experiences they had gone through — the early sexualization and exposure to more adult themes — gave them a perspective and maturity not often seen in a teenager.

Meeting your client where they are is a core tenet of counseling/therapy. With Trauma Informed Care, one must understand how trauma and abuse impact typical development and how important it is to meet your client where they are at developmentally in that moment, for that situation. As a manager, it’s not that much different when you look at your staff.


Wait, are you Saying Management is Like Counseling?

Each employee, volunteer, or person who contributes at your organization has different levels of professional development. We all have strengths and weaknesses, and times when we need less support/guidance and times when we need far more.

At Relias we use a framework called Situational Leadership II (SLII) to help us reframe the supervisor role in terms of the specific task and what is needed for that task.  The goal of SLII is to match your management style to the employee for that task in that moment.

We don’t label an employee as always “needing little to no supervision, works independently” or “needs direction and explicit task instructions.”  We look at the specific task or project and ask, “how competent and confident is this person on THIS task, and therefore what level of supervision is needed?”  We often refer to strengths and weaknesses in our employees, but really we’re talking about levels of competency and development with the specific project or task at hand. As an employee, my knowledge, experiences, guidance from others, and basic supervision all come together to help me mature and grow professionally.  As leaders and colleagues, you do this every day in your interactions with each other. You are developing those around you and helping them grow and mature professionally.


We all have strengths and weaknesses, and times when we need less support/guidance and times when we need far more.


People Leave Managers, not Companies

You can find multiple articles and information written over the years about how employees leave managers, not jobs.  The general theme of these articles, the employee surveys and research shows that the key ingredient to feeling valued and worthwhile at work is the manager companies.  The double-edged sword for managers is the pressure that employee engagement and fulfillment at work is squarely on your shoulders.  The bright side of this?  You are able to influence and change how your employees feel about their work, the organization and the leadership.

Just like with counseling, you start with your employee where they are and build from there. Sounds easy but like most things that matter, it is challenging to effectively manage employees, especially disengaged ones.


Can We Help?

At heart I’m still a social worker and helping people still drives me, despite no longer being in direct clinical practice.  We, at Relias, are motivated to support and help those of you in the challenging field of human services.

People think of Relias Learning as an “online training company,” but I think it’s so much more.

Please don’t call what we do “training” or believe that all we do is online courses — anyone can slap some text on a screen and add an exam (I’m sure you’ve seen it). At Relias, we are passionate about workforce development and everything that it encompasses, starting with looking at where your employee is at this time, with this task or aspect of the job.  We help you develop your people in so many different ways beyond just learning about diagnoses and treatments.

To find out why Relias Learning is more than just “online learning,” hear what our customers have to say about how it’s impacted their staff and organization


We want to hear about your challenges as a manager and what has worked for you in the past or is working currently.  Please share your comments below.

Kristi McClure

Strategic Marketing Manager BH/CYF and CH, Relias

Kristi has more than 20 years of experience in the health and human service industry, the majority of that time working as a direct practitioner with children, adolescents and adults in both outpatient and residential/inpatient settings. She has worked with Relias for over 10 years, initially working with customers on getting the most out of Relias products, then managing the content products for HHS, and now as the Strategic Marketing Manager for Health and Human Services.

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