How Healthy Is Your Organization?

November 28, 2006


A healthy organization feels good when others hit their goals. When I visit an organization, I ask for the names of a couple of the more successful directors. The indicators could be service, quality, finance, people, or any particular indicator.

When I meet with a large group, I make a point to recognize and compliment the successful directors on their specific results. I notice in a healthy organization everybody claps and is excited for the person recognized. If it’s unhealthy, the audience will half-heartedly applaud if the boss is clapping, but they possibly are thinking, “Well, let me tell you what I did better than that person. Or let that person try to run my department.” I always point out to the audience that healthy organizations feel good about the success of others.

Once in Detroit, I had a manager stand up because she really had great outcomes in patient satisfaction. During the break, two other leaders came up to me to let me know that she ran the Mother-Baby Department, and they thought it was easier to achieve high patient satisfaction in that area. It’s not about explaining away success. It’s about how we can learn from those who are succeeding.

Another indicator of an organization’s health is whether the leaders are willing to learn from each other. I was at a large company with several entities spread out across the United States. At a regional meeting I asked the regional manager if any particular location really performed well. Without hesitation, he named the organization and the leader who had the best results in the region. He also noted that this leader had gotten great outcomes consistently for several years.

When I spoke that morning I shared the leader’s results, I asked people from the audience if they were aware of the leader with these outstanding results. Everyone shook their heads, “Yes.” Then I asked her, in the last two years, how many people in this room have contacted you to ask you to ask how to do it or to benchmark? She said none.

Let me put this in perspective.  This was a private company, and most of the leaders had stock in the company.  If all leaders in the company get better results not only would it help the organization but also personally impact each leader financially. 

In the years that I’ve traveled across the country, I’ve noticed that often leaders find it difficult benchmarking internally.  They are more comfortable traveling to another organization when the answer may be right around the corner or up one floor.

In healthy organizations, leaders strive to be the best they can be, but they also relish in the success of others. We have to learn to share our successes and be willing to ask others what’s working and why. We don’t want to compare ourselves out because we’re all a little bit different. We want to relate ourselves in, which means we can all find something that they’re doing that can transfer to our own areas.

Good performers transfer tools, techniques, and teachings to their own area. Poor performers figure out why it won’t work for them. We don’t have to individually reinvent the wheel everyday. Instead seek out what’s going right so we can emulate it, copy it, and learn from it and, ultimately, share it with others. After all, we’re all in this together.


  1. Does your organization share results so it is evident who the more successful leaders are?
    1. If yes, can you share how your organization accomplishes this?
  2. Does your organization have a system in place which identifies and standardizes best practices and shares them throughout the organization?

Please add your comments to this blog and share with our readers your experiences and comments on the questions below.  We can all benefit from each other’s experiences.



10 Responses to “How Healthy Is Your Organization?”

  1. We have often had leadership retreats where the leaders of our highest scoring units present ideas and suggestions for the entire group —- questions always follow and it is a great discussion.

  2. Joel Brown Says:

    From our director staff up to our Administrative team manage up and we all share best practices as well as have our highest scoring units share with the teams their ideas and practices. It is always very positive and very upbeat. Competition is thriving here and we all strive to be the best of the best.

  3. Dorothy Koone Says:

    Initiatives Benchmark Data is shared with MDs, clinical staff, and non-clinical staff as well as patient satisfaction scores.Opportunities for improvement are stated.Areas with improved scores in patient satisfaction are highlighted in the Intercom.The positives are celebrated and rewarded. Ways to hold the gain and to improve more are constantly sought. The director responsible for both areas referenced above is very diligent in this quest. Our entire staff is proud of our accomplishments.

  4. I have suggested to our upper leadership the possibility of creating a management support group. The purpose of which to allow peers to discuss these type of situations and share experiences and solutions to problems within their areas. By bringing together managers from different areas, you might gain a difference in perspective and maybe find a gold nugget that gets you over a difficult bump in your road.

  5. Matt Turner Says:

    We have operations spread out over a fairly large geograhical area so we pubilicize the patient satisfaction results for the top 10 units in our quarterly employee newsletter. We use charts and graphs rather than columms of numbers. It shows managers and employee alike what is possible and, at the same time, gives public kudos to the entire team at these facilities.

  6. Recently at a department head meeting, three of our leaders who had very high employee satisfaction scores shared with the rest of the group why their scores were so high, noting specific activities and behaviors that contributed to such a high employee satisfaction.

  7. Bob Ripley Says:

    At our management team meetings the CEO asks staff to describe success stories from their respective departments. Each month a director is scheduled to share “what is working” in their department as it relates to customer service. We are very new to the Studer program and we just started rounding. Staff shared “rounding” successes at yesterday’s meeting. I am sure we will be sharing “rounding” success stories on a regular basis. It should be contagious.

  8. lk Says:

    success are coming very, very slowly at my organization. the upper tier of management does not realize the intensity of carrying out the Service Excellence program well. meetings are often scheduled prior to 0900 and it does not enable me to make rounds on patients or staff. staff “line ups” are now being started, but not any guidance with how do manage this process on a busy nursing unit. there are phones to answer, call lights to respond to and also patient care that is expected and is our service. seems that if we could concentrate on the Service Excellence, and not reams of paperwork in this electronic age, more of the middle management would be more happy and content to do these things that build great teams. a colleague of mine does the line ups, rounding on patients and on staff and that consumes more than half her day. leaving the rest for meetings and employee 1L1 time, her “paperwork” is piling up at a tremendous rate. How does a middle manager communcate this to the upper management without being unsupportive. we know the more time we spend with patients, the better our scores and satisfaction. what to do?

  9. "T" Says:

    Pelicans Professional Baseball team has weekly staff meetings where sales reports are given and staff are recognized publicly. A Bi-weekly communication board is updated with yearly goals & update on progress. Also group discussion for Promotions and potential marketing ideas are tossed around to spur creative package tailored to specific companies.

  10. Lisa Binekey Says:

    We highlight best practices at our Leadership Training Sessions and the monthly manager meetings. We also focus on publishing success “stories” in our hospital newletter.

    One method that I have found to be very effective in identifying and sharing best practices for the inpt units is the new “Best Practices” monthly meetings. The top 4-5 inpt unit managers (as based upon the pt satisfaction scores for the month) are invited to a meeting with the CNO and CEO. The purpose of this meeting is to brainstorm and share best practices that they have implemented on their units as well as to stop for a moment to recognize their success. The identified best practices are then taken back to the entire managers meeting for recognition and implementation across all of the units. These meetings have sparked some competition between the managers. It’s very nice to get invited to this meeting!

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