Leadership Spotlight: Scott Rafinkski
Scott Rafiniski is a vice president of environmental services in Colorado. He has been with HHS since 2012 and previously spent time in the military. We sat down with him to hear how his background and experience have impacted his leadership style.
Tell me about your experience in the military.
The army had a warrant officer flight training program when I was in high school that was “high school to flight school.” I was fortunate enough to be accepted into that program, so right out of high school I enlisted in the army and went through flight training. I graduated in the top portion of my class and was offered a transition into attack helicopters and I graciously accepted. So right out of flight school I went into the AH-64 Apache helicopter training course. I graduated just in time to get stationed in Germany and participate in the first Gulf War. I spent six years in the military before I moved into the civilian world.
How has that experience impacted you as a leader?
It taught me that leaders lead. If you’re in charge, take charge. You got folks that are looking to you to guide them in the right direction and you can’t just wait around for the answers to come.
Next, it taught me attention to detail. Preflight in an aircraft making sure everything was in the right place was an important skill to have. It kept you flying and kept you safe. That helped me to see things that were out of place quickly, and that serves me well in my current role as I tour hospitals and assess things that are potentially out of best practice.
I think most importantly what it’s taught me though is the idea of a team. That team or unit is stronger than any one individual. It’s not about me accomplishing something or getting someone else to accomplish something, it’s about how we all come together to define and accomplish those goals that we’ve set forth.
Time management is something that can be challenging for our teams. What are some things you do to better manage the time you have.
Time management is another quality that I was taught in the army. They would give you 100 tasks with time to do 50, so you had to pick the most important ones and make sure they got done well. Time management is critical today when you’re trying to have a work-life balance and complete all of the things that are necessary for the job.
I always tell my team that it’s important to be on purpose. Not to just let things happen, but if it’s within your control to be on purpose in managing it. I try to take that same mentality to time management. If it’s important then I manage it. I put it in my calendar— and that includes personal time. If I’ve blocked out personal time I don’t take calls. If it’s an emergency then folks know how to get ahold of me. I take those things seriously with my team as well. I sit down and go over these tactics with them and we walk through a day in five minute intervals to spell out what they do every day and how to help them manage that time.
You work in an area with low unemployment rates but you’ve still be successful and finding great leaders. What is your approach to recruiting and retention?
Nowadays it’s really difficult. You can’t just rely on a job posting on Indeed to bring you A players, especially in today’s market. In most areas that I’m responsible for, unemployment is less than three percent. The reality is that the person you’re looking for already has a job. So you have to think outside the box and change your tactics. When I’m out in the community, I’m always looking for that individual who is taking pride in what they’re doing and providing outstanding service. I’ll approach them to see if they’re doing what they love to do and see if they’re willing to talk a little bit about some opportunities. I continue to pursue talent. I’ve been able to gain some really talented individuals that way.
But the investment doesn’t stop there. The individuals I hire don’t always stay in the same market as me, but I make it a point to take an interest in their career. I try to provide input and support, whether that’s a phone call to see how they’re doing, a check in while they’re at training, or whatever it may be. So it’s not just an investment of time upfront, it’s got to be a continual investment so that they understand there is a level of care there and that they’re part of this team now.