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Developing Highly Productive &
Positive Staff
10 key management strategies and examples
from the Contraceptive CHOICE Project
• Understand what motivates CHOICE staff to be
highly productive and positive
• Review 10 effective management strategies
used to develop an optimal team
• Discuss examples from the CHOICE Project
We asked staff:
What are some things that
management/colleagues have done that have
helped you become a highly effective and
positive member of the CHOICE team?
CHOICE staff responded:
• Manager’s door was always
open if I needed to talk or
had questions
• There were always
opportunities for learning
new things
Amanda Unanue, CHOICE
Research Assistant 2008-2011
Valerie Rainey, CHOICE
Receptionist 2007-2012
• Job expectations were
clearly communicated to me
Christina Buckel, CHOICE Data Manager 2008-
CHOICE staff responded:
• I never felt like I was
“getting in trouble” if I did
something wrong
• Managers and my coworkers were willing to
step in and help get tasks
completed to reach goals
Danielle Grunloh, CHOICE
Research & Medical Assistant
• Meetings and emails
always ended on a
positive note
Ragini Maddipati,
Coordinator 2009-
Gina Secura, CHOICE Project
Director 2007-
CHOICE staff responded…
• All staff were treated as
important members of the
CHOICE Research Assistants:
Elena Jones, 2010Kristin Rankin, 2008-2011
Torri Brown, 2009-2012
Jenny David, 2008-2010
• I was always thanked
verbally and in a written
note for a job well done
• My perspective is always
sought for inclusion in the
Jenny Mullersman, Clinical
Research Nurse Coordinator,
Hilary Broughton, CHOICE
Community Engagement &
Dissemination Coordinator, 2009-
CHOICE staff responded…
• I felt very welcomed to the
team when colleagues invited
me to lunch the first day of
Karen Omvig, CHOICE
Education & Training
Coordinator 2008-
• Created a supportive
environment where I could
interact with my colleagues to
ask questions and get support
• I had opportunities to ask
CHOICE doctors and nurse
practitioners questions to
enhance my clinical knowledge
Jenny Waxler, CHOICE
Research Assistant 2008-2010
Elex Hobbs,
Assistant 2008-
10 management strategies to develop an optimal team
10. Celebrate
achievements as
a team
1. Create
2. Encourage
9. Foster
not competition
3. Value each
team member
Productive and
Positive Staff
8. Provide
4. Open
7. Recognize
6. Provide
training and
5. Train in
1. Create effective leadership
• Develop a hiring process that will help identify
the best potential candidates
• Give constant reinforcement to all staff of the
organization’s mission and goals
• Develop clear and realistic objectives to
accomplish goals with specific roles,
expectations and performance standards
Effective leadership at CHOICE:
• Conducted job skills analysis, used
standardized interview and
grading systems, candidates
interview with multiple members
of entire team
• Updated staff on progress toward
short- and long-term goals at
weekly all-staff meeting
• Distributed participant quotes on
colored paper weekly that
reinforced importance of the
CHOICE mission & energized staff
• Created a comprehensive training
2. Encourage staff participation
• Have staff participate at all levels of decision
making; some of the best ideas occur when
given the freedom to voice an opinion
• Use all-staff meetings as a forum to
troubleshoot system inefficiencies and
develop solutions
• Construct activities and tasks that promote
working together as a team
Staff participation at CHOICE:
• Used all-staff meeting
as forum to increase
patient flow efficiency
• Staff continuously
provided feedback on
modifications to clinical
and research forms
3. Value each team member
• Foster an environment where all staff input is
encouraged and appreciated
• Select staff to participate on additional
projects based on strengths and interests—
not solely on job title
• Ensure all team members are aware of what
role other staff plays on the team
Examples from CHOICE:
• Managers sought individual input
from all staff members on issues
affecting the Project
CHOICE receptionist coordinated
health fair participation; research
assistants participated in data
analysis and publications; data
manager starred in CHOICE video
• Implemented “staff expert of the
day”: each team member
presented information about their
role in the project at a staff
4. Open communication
• Management is always available to discuss
concerns and answer questions
• Keep staff updated on what is happening in
the organization
• Inform staff of how their performance
relates to organizational goals
Open communication in CHOICE:
• Managers always had their
doors open
• Kept staff updated through:
– Emails
– Staff meetings
– “Water cooler” updates
• Conducted individual annual
performance reviews with all
staff members
5. Train in conflict resolution
• Recognize conflicts can arise between staff,
especially when workload increases
• Provide staff with necessary skills to resolve
conflicts between one another
• Develop protocol for addressing grievances
if staff are unable to resolve problem on
their own
Conflict resolution in CHOICE
• Management conscious of workload increases
and remained perceptive to stress levels and
potential conflicts among staff
• Used small group department meetings to
reinforce conflict resolution skills
• Consulted with Washington University Human
Resources when conflict persisted
6. Provide training and professional
growth opportunities
• Provide staff with tools necessary to do their
jobs successfully
• Invite staff to attend low- or no-cost
community lectures and seminars relevant to
the position or organizational mission
• Give staff opportunities to increase their
knowledge and skill sets
CHOICE training and professional
growth opportunities:
• Created a personalized
day-to-day training
schedule for new staff
• Invited staff to participate
and present in academic
• CHOICE doctors held
monthly “lunch & learn”
educational sessions on
reproductive health issues
for staff
7. Recognize individual contributions
• Make each person feel like an important
member of the team
• Encourage all members of the team to
recognize contributions of a team member
• Promote a positive team atmosphere
CHOICE examples of
individual recognition:
Recognized birthdays with a card
signed by all staff
Recognized employment
anniversary dates with
homemade banners
Recognized individual efforts
toward a goal with personal
acknowledgement and a
certificate at staff meetings
8. Provide constructive criticism
• Address the incident soon after it happens
• Focus on issue at hand—do not mix positive
and negative feedback
• Choose words that focus on behavior to be
changed; not the person
• Give reason why it's an issue and state impact it
had on staff, organization, or the patient
• Collaborate together to come up with
ideas for improvement
CHOICE example of
constructive criticism:
Issue: Staff member scheduled several people under the wrong name in the scheduling system.
Management Action: Send email to staff member requesting meeting. Discuss issue at hand,
importance of scheduling patients correctly, and affect it has on the Project and/or patient. Offer
additional training if necessary.
Resolution: Manager and staff member collaborate to come up with strategies to prevent this
mistake from occurring in the future. Manager and staff member set a meeting 2 weeks after
occurrence to revisit the issue and progress.
9. Instill cooperation, not competition
• Cross train staff—including management—
across positions so they can step in when
• Encourage staff to ask team members for help
when needed
• Treat staff as capable, competent people and
expect them to function as such
• Provide a clean, bright, attractive
and cheerful workplace
Cooperation, not competition
• Manager covered
enrollment or phone
survey when research
assistant was
• Each staff person at
CHOICE has personal
work space with
adequate lighting and
10. Celebrate achievements as a team
• Help foster a shared sense of pride
• Recognize the success of the team!
• Re-energize team to accomplish the next goal
Team celebrations at CHOICE:
Celebrated reaching our enrollment goal of
9,256 with a catered party on a weekend
that included staff & our families
Management brought snacks to break
room with a thank you note for reaching
short-term goals
Project Director called an impromptu
meeting at the end of day after reaching a
long-term goal to toast a job well done
with a sparkling beverage
• Organized a potluck picnic in the park to
thank staff for commitment to excellence
and positive work ethic
• Received congratulatory emails from
CHOICE Principal Investigator & Project
Director for reaching goals
• Highly productive and positive staff form a
cohesive team that get things done
• An upbeat team atmosphere can promote
quality patient care and satisfaction
• Refer to the Effective Staffing & Management
module in the Resource Center for additional

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