Proximity Management as the key to a humanization strategy

Section: Editorial


Albert Cortés Borra1, Pedro Jaén Ferrer


1Supervisor de Enfermería, Vall d’Hebron Barcelona Hospital Campus y aplicaciones prácticas. 2Formador y coach. Miembro del Proyecto

It is increasingly frequent to speak about Proximity Management (1), because for those of us working in healthcare management, and even more in the middle level, this is our main trump card in order to keep our work teams as motivated as possible, while at the same time being able to address all requirements made by institutions and professionals.

Humanization is currently trendy, and this trend should never have been abandoned; it could be claimed that the healthcare system has become dehumanized due to different factors: social injustice, technology, super-specialization, system complexity, mercantilism, among others. For this reason, many professionals are choosing to join their efforts in order to achieve a respectful and humanized healthcare, which leads to patients and relatives feeling as persons when entering a hostile setting such as the healthcare world, and with simple actions, sometimes forgotten, such as greeting them, introducing oneself, saying thank you, making the person we are talking to feel that we are paying attention to them and that we empathize, thus making them feel in a more pleasant environment (2).

Those of us in charge of management welcome this change of attitude towards humanization, because we are aware that the patient is the center of the system. Besides, this humanizing trend consists only in conducting actions or activities of “being persons”, and this is what we are as human beings, social beings and living in society; and then, why has education and, even sometimes respect, been lost? That is why management must join humanization, because the organization policies are dictated by their managers, and the humanizing flow must run from the top downwards in organization charts, because professionals cannot be expected to treat patients and their families in a humanized manner, while managers are not humanization agents in their organization, department or unit.

If the intention is to implement humanizing policies in management, it is possible to start talking about the conciliation of occupational and personal life, adapting working hours, adapting profiles and jobs, practicing empathy and active listening to a higher extent from management, and fighting to prevent and avoid burnout, for a start.

We managers have work to do, and this work will be rewarded by professionals, because there are many published studies associating a good work environment with an improvement in performance and reduction in absenteeism. It is worth changing ways of acting in order to improve healthcare quality and professional performance. It is necessary to act, to conduct a major change in role, to implement humanized management, and to ensure that managers also practice management humanization.

So, will we try to change? Will we be able to see new options to conduct management and treat professionals from a humanistic point of view? There are surprising reactions and results: involvement, responsibility, relevance, quality. This is what Proximity Management is about. It is the necessary change.

How many times has a manager been criticized, for example, for believing that she no longer thinks like a nurse? In our opinion, these claims can be overcome in a very simple way: by managing persons. We keep repeating sentences such as: “Professionals are the best asset in any organization”; so let’s make this a reality, and give professionals the role that belongs to them. For this aim, we must start by treating professionals as what they are, most of all: persons (3). If we miss this starting point, our management will certainly be able to meet some of its objectives, but it won’t achieve the most valuable for all of us: humanized and personal treatment for workers. Proximity Management makes us be near our “sub­ordinates” because it makes them feel valued, regarded, taken into account. It is not so difficult to put ourselves in the place of professionals, and understand their problems, their fears and their concerns.


  1. Thevenet M. Le management de proximité, un question d’apprentissage émotionnel. ESKA, Paris; 2006.
  2. Fernández Aguado J. Dirigir personas en la empresa: enfoque conceptual y aplicaciones prácticas. Madrid: Ed. Pirámide; 2007.
  3. Funció Factor Humà. Primer Informe del Barómetro del Factor Humano ¿Cuál es el estado actual de la gestión de personas? 2018 [internet] [citado 8 mar 2019]. Disponible en: article/13778/primer-informe-del-barometro-del-factor-humanonov-2018.pdf