Leadership Spotlight: Terrance Newson

Terrance Newson was recently promoted to vice president of environmental services after serving as a director of EVS at a facility that is part of a hospital system in the Minneapolis area. Terrance has worked for HHS since 2008, and we sat down with him to learn what has made him successful.

Tell us about your career progression with HHS.

I started as an assistant director in 2008. My first assignment was in Jacksonville, Florida. From there I went to St. Louis to a large system startup. Next I went back to Mississippi, then I got promoted to my first directorship in Helena, Arkansas. And then I moved to Minnesota. I’ve moved five times in eight years, and I’m very proud to have had that opportunity. With most organizations you hit a ceiling at a certain point, but with HHS it provides the opportunity to move around the country.

You talk a lot about servant leadership. What does that mean to you?

My idea of servant leadership is making sure that everyone has the tools to be successful every day. We have to have the foresight to understand that there are going to be things that people need to get their day started, such as a standard cart setup. We implemented a process this year called leader standard work, which is a chart that lists all of your negotiables—what are the things that I have to accomplish today to be successful? Every leader in the system rolls it out every day, and every team member understands what the parameters are for them to be successful and what they need to engage their managers on to be aware of any barriers. We communicate to our teams every day that it’s ok to be “red,” which we consider as not meeting the standard, but we dive into that red column and those gaps to understand how we can overcome those barriers. It’s not a sense of holding your feet to the fire, but it’s a teamwork aspect where the team can hold each other to that higher level.

The management team at your account has done a great job in being transparent with information and being equipped with the same information and mission. How important is that for your success?

It’s paramount for our success. It’s important for us to understand where our gaps are, and it’s important for us to be forthcoming in making sure everyone knows that we have those gaps—whether it be the nursing leadership, the frontline staff, or the customer—and also to let everyone know that we have action plans in place to support those gaps. We have daily management meetings where we discuss those metrics. We discuss what our turn times are, our training compliance, our hotspots. We discuss those non-negotiables, like daily patient room cleaning and the freshen up services, to support our HCAHPS program.

You have done a great job of building mentorship relationships. How do you support new managers to ensure they are successful?

One of the things that I like to do with every new manager is to spend an abundance of time with them. I want them to understand how my brain works, I want them to understand the best practices, and I want them to feel confident in making informed decisions. When you’re in a building that’s literally miles away from the main office and you have to make split-second decisions, I want them to be confident in that, and I want them to understand that they’re equipped with those tools, starting from our orientation here with the HHS program. I want them to understand that there are things in place for them to use as a tool to navigate through those environments. The customer pays us to implement those processes and we’re the experts. I want them to understand that their expertise is going to grow by the day, if not by the hour, and they need to understand that a bad decision is just a decision that we need to fix. But it’s better to make a bad decision than to not make a decision at all.

What best practices have you put into practice to ensure consistency across all of the facilities in the hospital system?

We have a manager binder, and every manager has this binder at the beginning of their assignment at their location. It consists of the vendors we support, and provides guidance on how to make decisions in the moment when your director’s not standing at your shoulder. What are our best practices for terminal cleaning? Who are the nurse managers that we need to make sure we touch base with every single day? What are our hotspots and what are our gaps in the past that we don’t want to repeat? We want to make sure that we get ahead of those things in time. I make sure that every new manager understands that they have to start at the basics—they have to start at the housekeeping cart, they have to make sure the uniforms are present and the badge buddies with The Joint Commission are there and the standard cart setup. Those things have to be in place for a team member to be successful, otherwise we’re just going to figure out things as we go and that’s never going to lead to a successful account.

We have recently had the opportunity to grow our business to new facilities in the Minneapolis market, and a big part of that is thanks to you. What have you done to ensure your team’s success?

A big piece of that is the continuity. Every patient room needs to look the same with the standard room setup. And every leadership meeting needs to be held in the same manner where we’re communicating all of the great things that we’ve accomplished. A lot of that communication and a lot of those best practices that we had in place across the system led the customer to feel that we’ve met the standard and that the competitor couldn’t do that. A lot of operations are instituted in silos, and that doesn’t necessarily lead to success. We all operate as a unit, and we’re very resourceful in reaching out to each other as directors and being resources to the assistant directors and frontline team members to make sure that everyone grows in one fashion together.