BUZZ! e-Newsletter: April 2015
We are pleased to present the April 2015 edition of TLD Group Buzz, a free e-newsletter for our clients and consultants, distributed to subscribers quarterly. This edition includes TLD Group News, a Partner Spotlight, as well as brief summaries of cutting-edge issues and trends impacting executive assessment, development and organizational transformation.
As organization development consultants, seasoned executive coaches and academicians, TLD Group’s team strives to weave the latest trends in OD and HR into our customized client solutions.
Physician alignment is now a pervasive concept within the healthcare industry as it is a necessary ingredient to survive widespread and unprecedented transformation. Hospital and health system leaders are striving for aligned physician relationships as a way to walk lock step toward an unknown future.
The term alignment implies parallelism and agreement. General agreement opens the door to a number of safe conversations amongst administrators and physicians. However, alignment is not enough as organizations and physicians find themselves increasingly more reliant on each other to achieve their goals. This is why health system leaders are starting to focus on cultivating engagement rather than alignment, most notably illustrated through the growing popularity of physician engagement surveys.
Many of you may be familiar with a pleasant family dinner where there is a lot of talk about sports, vacations and kids, and nary a whisper of politics or religion. It is this lack of depth that renders aligned relationships inadequate in today’s ever-changing landscape. The language, behaviors and processes used in an organization can shine a revealing light on whether physicians are truly valued and engaged. Measuring engagement provides useful data, however, leaders do not need to formally survey physicians to assess engagement which Gallup defines as, physicians who are active, enthusiastic and committed partners.
Consider the following questions to gain insight into the state of physician engagement in your organization:
- Do you demonstrate quick follow up on questions or concerns even if you cannot provide ideal solutions?
- Do you know the top three priorities of your physician partners and do they know the organization’s top three priorities?
- Do physicians take on leadership roles within the organization? If so, are they widely respected? Do they know how to successfully navigate the processes and politics of the organization?
- Do your conversations demonstrate equal parts curiosity and vulnerability by including open-ended questions, transparency and apologies where they are necessary?
- Do you provide venues for open, candid and respectful communication? Do physicians know those venues exist and do they take advantage of them?
- Do you consistently use respectful language when talking about physicians even behind closed doors?
In my experience helping healthcare organizations create physician engagement strategies, there are subtle, yet powerful differences between organizations who have aligned physicians and those who have engaged physicians. For instance, the leader of an organization with aligned physicians might host open office hours, yet the same few physicians, if any, show up. The leader has asked some physicians why they don’t attend and those who respond say something like ‘no news is good news.’ The leader may feel he is holding up his end of the bargain and by not attending, physicians have no reason to complain about their relationship with administration.
In contrast, the leader of the organization with engaged physicians has a steady stream of attendees at her office hours. Is that because they have more complaints or more time than the aligned physicians at the other organization? Probably not. They may have more complaints because we should not confuse engagement with happiness. However, what is probably more likely is that physicians view office hours as an opportunity where meaningful interaction occurs that regularly yields positive outcomes.
There are tangible strategies and tactics leaders and organizations can implement in order to markedly increase engagement. Coaching leaders on how to better engage physicians, providing customized physician leadership development processes, developing physician engagement survey action plans and creating venues in which physicians and administrators can meaningfully solve shared challenges through forums, such as TLD Group’s APLA ©, are effective ways to move organizations from alignment to engagement.
TLD GROUP UPDATES
TLD Group was featured in the January 2015 issue of the Physician Leadership Forum, a publication of the American Hospital Association (AHA). Our article, entitled “Creating Exceptional Physician-Nurse Dyads: Using Collaborative Partnerships to Raise the Standard of Care and Improve the Overall Patient Experience” offers insights about Palomar Health’s journey to create collaborative partnerships through a partnership activation process, which raised the standard of care and improved the overall patient experience. Palomar’s customized Applied Physician Leadership Academy© (APLA) was designed for physician leaders, nurse leaders, and administrators to drive alignment on the system’s goals, build leadership competencies, and facilitate a team-based approach to care giving. The article highlighted one of the activation projects, "No Physician Rounds Alone," which was designed for one unit and later leveraged across the organization. Click here for the publication.
The American College of Healthcare Executives' (ACHE) Congress on Healthcare Leadership offered insights into current leadership issues related to four of the conference’s key themes: physician executive competencies , leadership diversity, cultural transformation, and cost and quality initiatives. TLD Group presented its work with key leaders from Palomar Health that emphasized the importance of physicians as partners in meeting performance goals by developing “dyad relationships” between themselves and operational executives. The presentation shared the story of Palomar’s applied physician leadership academy, which included a dyad activation process, and raised the standard of care and improved the overall patient experience through a team-based care approach to healthcare delivery. Nancy Schlichting, CEO of Henry Ford Health System, delivered a talk that addressed the need for organizations to embrace diversity, and focus on attracting young people, mentoring women executives for advancement, creating a “culture of yes” and making the organization truly a community resource. Several sessions argued for reinventing the healthcare enterprise and the cultural change and skills needed to lead that effort, providing suggestions to erase boundaries, provoke thought, and observe in the real world rather than focus groups. Other insights related to meeting aggressive cost and quality objectives were also mentioned, such as the need to focus intensively on workforce cost, press beyond centralization to prevent losing initial gains, and to recognize that many quality metrics are “outdated” or “inappropriate”. Click here for TLD Group’s presentation.
On February 12th, TLD Group delivered a keynote address on identifying and developing high potentials for the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) Human Resource Executive Committee. The presentation offered insights on identifying and developing high potentials and best practices for effective talent management. NJHA is a not-for-profit trade organization committed to delivering support and services to the state’s hospitals and other healthcare providers. Click here for the presentation.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT TRENDS
Organizations are constantly seeking to improve their team’s performance and productivity, but most use “old school” strategies such as offering incentives to motivate productivity. In her article “Positive Teams Are More Productive” in the March 2015 of Harvard Business Review, Emma Seppälä summarizes research published by Kim Cameron in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science about how the implementation of positive and virtuous practices can drive team performance. These positive practices work by increasing positive emotions and improving interpersonal relationships, as well as by building resilience against stressful workplace events. Cameron’s research also found that the positive practices have concrete benefits on organizational effectiveness, including financial performance, customer satisfaction, and productivity.
Such practices include:
- Caring for and treating colleagues as friends
- Supporting one another in difficult times by offering kindness and compassion
- Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes
- Emphasizing the meaningfulness of work
- Treating each other with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity
These practices may seem pretty self-explanatory, but they can be challenging to implement without support from the organization’s leaders. A leader who exemplifies these values in their own behavior can have great influence to instill these practices into others. Seppälä quotes Steve Schroeder, found and CEO of Creative Werks, who claims that “caring” is a quality he looks for in new hires and emphasizes the importance of creating a positive and supportive workplace culture. While introducing positive practices into an organization’s culture takes effort, it is a major determinant of high performance.
One easy way to integrate these practices is to follow the example of Jim Mallozzi, CEO of Prudential Real Estate and Relocation, who offers a simple exercise to try with your team: “select three people, one at a time, and tell those people three things you value about them.” It’s more likely for people to point fingers and tell others what they need to improve upon, but rarely do people have the pleasure of hearing what they’re doing well. There are several other small steps to take to integrate positive practices into the workplace culture, such as keeping gratitude journals or meditation. If your organization is ready for the next big leap, retreats and workshops are a great way for your team members to think and reflect on how best to change the workplace atmosphere to encompass these positive practices.
Please contact us for more information about how TLD Group incorporates these, and other innovative strategies, in our team development practices.
Employee engagement is defined as “the extent to which employees are willing to invest discretionary effort – both emotional and intellectual – to accomplish the work, mission and vision of an organization, even if it means exceeding duty’s call.” In her article, “Fueling a Culture of Engagement” in the February 2015 issue of Talent Management, Lorrie Lykins summarizes the six talent practices that researchers have identified as those which achieve the dual goal of raising levels of engagement as well as market performance:
- Onboarding. Engagement starts as early as the recruitment phase. It is important to leave a strong first impression on new hires and ensure they feel they’ve made the right choice by accepting your job offer. The first step to engage new hires during the onboarding process is to make them feel welcome and to assimilate them into the organization’s culture. Highly engaged organizations utilize multiple onboarding experiences, such as specialized orientation programs, to address the varying needs of new talent.
- Stay interviews. There is a significant correlation between the use of stay interviews as a retention strategy to build engagement. Stay interviews are opportunities for employees to voice their opinion about what is and is not working for them in regards to their working conditions. These informal conversations enhance engagement by allowing employees a platform to communicate openly with their managers, and demonstrate that managers value their insights on how to improve certain aspects of the organization.
- Individual development plans. An important way to enhance levels of engagement in top-performers is to dedicate ample effort to creating individual development plans geared towards identifying and mapping personal and professional goals. These development plans should include opportunities for personal development such as rotational job assignments, various learning resources, or coaching/mentoring programs with senior leaders.
- High-visibility assignments. As an incentive for excellent performance, organizations can use a rewards-based approach by offering high-visibility and strategic projects as a demonstration of appreciation for employees’ contributions, which will subsequently boost engagement.
- A physical environment that supports creative thinking and wellness. The workplace environment can serve as a catalyst for facilitating engagement by “offering settings that provide areas for both quiet contemplation and gathering spots that encourage collaboration and sharing of ideas.” Organizations should dedicate specific spaces for personal work as well as group brainstorming, allowing employees to work and think creatively and collaboratively.
- Time for creative thinking and innovation. Employees appreciate the opportunity to expand their development through individual projects separate from their typical job responsibilities. A good strategy for building engagement is to set aside a block of time for creativity and innovation. Some high-performing companies encourage employees to dedicate around 15-20% of their work time to creative thinking and exploration.
To learn more about how TLD Group incorporates these, and other innovative strategies, in our customized training and development practices, please click here.
On November 12, 2014, Bob Kehoe of Health Forum interviewed a panel of healthcare executives to discuss the critical issues facing hospitals and health systems regarding how to build a strong workforce. What are some of the challenges, and what are leading healthcare companies doing to stay ahead of the curve? Below are some of the key highlights from the interview, outlining several recommendations about how to build the workforce of the future.
- Shared responsibility of hiring talent. Senior leadership is expected to set the standard in terms of the hiring process. This expectation is then handed off to the operational leadership, who carry out the process and find the right match to fulfill the organization’s need.
- Robust leadership development programs. It’s not enough to have good clinicians. Strong clinical leaders are crucial because they are able to handle the complexity of the industry. Leadership development programs help to assess the critical skills and behavioral competencies valued by the organization, and develop these skills to bring out the best in bright individuals.
- Revisit the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Peter Butler of Rush University Medical Center shared the story of how Rush identified five core values central to their organization’s purpose, known collectively as I CARE: innovation, collaboration, accountability, respect, and excellence. Keeping the organization’s values front-of-mind is useful so that “all leaders in the organization understand and are clear about their roles and our expectations.” These values are integrated into all aspects of the organization, including orientation of new hires as well as for evaluative purposes.
- Utilize measures for evaluating the organization’s recruitment and developmental success. Several executives interviewed responded that engagement is a key measure of success. Interviewees reported that engagement is evaluated at all levels of their respective organizations, and is important for creating commitment, alignment, and understanding of future goals.
- Establish a strong relationship with your CEO. Working in healthcare, it isn’t difficult for frontline medical staff to align themselves with senior management. Each party is focused on the same thing: patient care. With that core purpose in mind, non-medical executives are certainly concerned with their clinical frontline and want to feel engaged with their staff.
- Identify key competencies and engage high potentials. A leadership competency model enables organizations to identify which competencies they value and provide a useful framework for identifying high-potentials. Peter Butler notes that experience isn’t necessarily the most important factor, but rather adaptability, flexibility, and the potential to grow and learn through mentoring and other developmental activities.
To learn more about how TLD Group incorporates these, and other innovative strategies, in our leadership development programs, please click here.
In the January 2015 issue of Chief Learning Officer, Roger Connors and Tom Smith describe the results of the 2014 Workplace Accountability Study in their article “Want Results? Fix Accountability” which found that the underlying issue behind the lack of accountability is that a large number of employees struggle to understand the important results as defined by the organization. The study found that:
- 93% of employees don’t really understand what the organization is trying to accomplish in order to align with their own work
- 85% of leaders aren’t defining what their people should be working on, and an equal number of employees crave clarity
- 84% of the workforce describes itself as “trying but failing” or “avoiding” accountability, even when employees know what to fix
- More than 70% of those surveyed were extremely pessimistic about the viability of their understanding of their organization’s key measures
Results from this study suggested that it is important to reduce the number of key performance indicators (KPIs) so as not to overwhelm employees and exasperate confusion. It is more realistic to expect your employees to deliver on a few clearly-defined and measurable results. Connors and Smith note the case of Brinker International Inc., who cut down to 4 KPIs from the original 40, and found that performance skyrocketed: turnover dropped and team engagement scores soared. This way, team members are able to clearly see how their work contributed to the overall success of the organization and take accountability for their contributions.
One of the key issues in fixing accountability is that the word itself generally holds a negative connation, conjuring thoughts of the “blame game” or keeping quiet to keep yourself out of the spotlight. Connors and Smith suggest a new way to view accountability, by reframing it in a positive and enabling light that treats accountability as a preventative measure, rather than a punishment. Accountable individuals are not quick to point fingers, are personally invested in achieving the organization’s key outcomes, take personal ownership of their work and seek to go above and beyond the call of duty. The first step to changing this view of accountability is to break down individual silos, and replace the typical “us vs. them” mentality with a collaborative mindset that stretches across the entire organization.
Here are some suggestions about how to practice and incorporate accountability into your own organization:
- Begin with your organization’s leaders – demonstrate accountability from the top down
- Adopt a model of accountability that can be trained and coached
- Clearly define results using a few clear-cut performance indicators
To learn more about how TLD Group incorporates these, and other innovative strategies, in our executive coaching programs, please click here.