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Manager’s Journal: Let’s Puzzle Together

by Anthony Rino MT(ASCP), MHA

“Jigsaw puzzling is not a solitary game” – Georges Perec

This past February I celebrated my birthday with a special gift from my management team: a 486-piece Liberty Puzzle. I love jigsaw puzzles and was so excited to receive such a personal gift that the team knew I would really enjoy.

The Liberty Puzzle is not just an ordinary jigsaw puzzle, but one where the pieces are all made of real wood. Each piece is a unique shape designed specifically for the landscape of your puzzle. My gift has a star, a fish, a ship, a whale and a man walking with a cane.

I love the calm, solitude and the escape a puzzle brings me. Suddenly the worries of the world fade away and the quietness settles in. I remember pouring out the pieces and smelling fresh cut wood. That smell alone was enough to set a peaceful tone.

You can imagine my surprise when that feeling turned stressful after four hours of puzzling and only being able to complete 10 pieces. Yes, you heard right, four hours to connect 10 puzzle pieces. I started to think that maybe I was in over my head with an unsolvable puzzle.

I was not going to surrender. After all, I had commandeered the entire dining room table for this project. A week later my son came home from college for spring break. Suddenly that challenging puzzle turned into hours of sit downs with him, working on the puzzle with me, from across the table. The puzzle was a distraction that kept our attention while we talked about everything going on in his life. As a parent you can imagine how valuable this time is.

It wasn’t just my son either. My wife, my daughter, friends and even my 90-year-old father-in-law took a turn at the puzzle table. Everyone that stopped in was invited to contribute. Yes, I had plenty of hours working on the puzzle myself, but I found that the most fun I had was sharing the time with others.

Vara Nazian once said, “Not every puzzle is intended to be solved. Some are in place to test your limits. Others, in fact are not puzzles at all.” I think this gift fell into that category. This was not a puzzle at all, it was a common denominator for many people to come and gather – to share and laugh together. Sixty-man hours later I’m happy to report that the puzzle is finally done and proudly displayed on our scrapbooking table for all to view.

That puzzle experience reminded me of my work environment. Every day we are presented with challenges. Some of these challenges come with excitement and that “fresh out of the box smell” of tackling something new. Other challenges are not as welcomed and often have us questioning if we can handle it or not. As a manager, we often try and tackle these challenges alone. I would invite all of you reading this blog to tackle these challenges by inviting people to “puzzle” with you. Giving employees a seat at the table to “puzzle” allows them to share their thoughts and expertise on a given problem. It also allows for different perspectives and opinions on how to tackle really difficult issues. By inviting employees in they feel like they are contributing to the overall success of the company. Inviting employees in helps build tomorrow’s leaders. It’s also an opportunity to share your insights with the team and gives you a chance to emphasize the vision and mission of the organization. Just like the puzzle, these challenges often bring us closer together and make us stronger. When we do it together, suddenly it gets done faster and better than if we had to do it alone.

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Anthony Rino MT(ASCP), MHA For the last 18 years, Tony Rino’s career has focused on Medical Group Practice management including his current role as Executive Director of New England Orthopedic Surgeons in Springfield, MA where he supervises and inspires the work of 200 support staff supporting 45 clinicians providing services to 800 patients daily. Tony started his career as a Medical Technologist working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. Tony holds a Bachelor’s of Science from Northeastern University and a Master’s of Healthcare Administration from Framingham State College. In 2005 Tony published a book called Footsteps of My Father – Everything I Know About Management I Learned from My Dad. Tony is a nationally recognized motivational speaker. For speaking engagement inquiries please feel free to reach out to Tony at [email protected]

About the Author

Libman Education
Libman Education Inc. is a leading provider of training for the health care workforce offering self-paced and instructor-led online courses designed and developed by leading industry experts in Health Information Management (HIM) and Medical Record Coding. Our courses are specifically designed to improve individual skills and increase the efficiencies and competencies of health care providers and institutions. At Libman Education, we understand the needs and challenges of a well-trained workforce and offer the right-mix of online education to ensure that the health care professionals are prepared to meet the challenges of the changing workplace.

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