Jaime Ptacek is the director of patient transport at a hospital in Englewood, Colorado. We sat down with her to learn more about her leadership style.
What does being a successful leader mean to you?
As a successful leader, you’re empowering your team, you’re leading by example. If they’re successful in their careers and if you’ve helped them get to where they want to go, that means you’ve done your job as a leader. If you constantly hire someone as good as or better than yourself then there’s no limit to your success. You’ll constantly be achieving more and aiming for bigger and better goals. You’ll be able to grow frontline leaders into larger positions to achieve their career goals, so the success just amounts on top of itself.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I like to empower my team and I try to lead by example. I would never expect them to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. I don’t have to micromanage them to pick up and claim their own transports; they do it on their own, and they hold each other accountable. So as I’ve built my team I’ve tried to recruit great team members that are able to run the program. I provide the tools and equipment they need and the appropriate training so that the program can sustain itself, so I don’t have to be a “boss,” I can just be a leader and give them all of the support they need.
You’ve helped to lead the charge of developing a culture of safety within patient transport. How have you accomplished that?
I’m proud of the quality and safety team we’ve formed. When we were struggling with workplace injuries we created some tools and tactics to distribute to our managers throughout the division. Those tools helped managers to implement a program that their team members could run, and they just have to sustain. It helps the team members get involved and engaged in safety so that it’s almost on autopilot. The manager comes in and does their safety huddle, but it’s really the team members holding each other accountable, always talking about safety, and training new team members to work safely. It’s really decreased our overall number of injuries.
How do you help support your team members in growing their future careers?
I like to connect with them on a personal level. I round with them monthly and find out what their career goals are first and how we can help them get there, whether that’s accommodating their school schedule or finding out who we can set up an interview with for them. Being able to know and pinpoint which team member wants to go into which career field can help you get them there.
How do you keep your team members engaged on a daily basis?
It’s important to keep them motivated and wanting to come to work; building a team that’s always got each other’s backs. This is a tough environment sometimes—always having to be on your feet transporting patients all day long—so we do a lot of things to boost team morale. We have pizza parties, every year we go to a baseball game, we keep a group chat on our iMobile phones. We keep the mood fun and light-hearted throughout the day while we’re transporting, and that makes them want to come to work. They’re all working with their friends and they want to be there for each other.