In the world of healthcare, nurses and doctors “round” on patients daily. Rounding permits them to follow a consistent schedule of checking in on and managing the care of their patients. In the healthcare management world, where I spend most of my time, we could take a lesson from our doctors and “round” on our employees. As you will hear me say over and over, where leaders spend their time determines what is important to them (and ultimately, the organization).
With this in mind, you need to round with purpose. In lean six sigma, this type of rounding is called Gemba. Haphazardly showing up asking employees questions, and telling them how to do their job is just going to make them nervous. Your purpose is to ask and understand what your employees need to do their job. You want to challenge them to think about a problem, with probing questions, leaving them to identify their own solutions. Your questions should be what, why, what-if, and why-not questions. Another goal is to take away non-value added work bit by bit, day by day.
Rounding needs to be consistent. In large organizations, it needs to be daily. Going “gemba” in a small office looks quite different. Sometimes, you’re in such small quarters, you already see each other all day and have a good pulse on employee’s work processes. In these settings, I like to round by having regular one-on-one’s with staff. I try to schedule them where I’m doing about one per week. These check-ins allow personalized time with the employee, where I can not only focus on whether they’re following process protocols, but I can spend time teaching and coaching them.