Archive for January, 2010

Eight Roadblocks to Moving Best Practices

January 20, 2010

Have you ever noticed certain leaders or departments in your organization are really, really good at doing one specific thing? Maybe they consistently get great patient satisfaction scores, or their employees have very low levels of absenteeism, or their infection levels are consistently lower than those of similar areas.

It’s clear that these high performers are doing something different, something that sets them apart. And whatever “magic touch” they have, you’d love to bottle it and distribute it to other areas of your organization. In fact, you may have done some digging and figured out what they’re doing right. But when you tried to get others to follow their lead, there’s a good chance you fell short of the goal.

Harvesting “best practices” and transferring them to other leaders and departments is a wonderful way to achieve organizational consistency. And yet, many organizations just can’t seem to get it done. Have you ever wondered why?

We have discovered there are eight common “roadblocks” that keep organizations from identifying and moving best practices. They are:

  1. High performers can be modest. They minimize what they do. “Oh, it’s no big deal,” they’ll say. To figure out what they’re doing that’s different, you need to dig deep. In fact, digging deep with a high performer is how we initially discovered the impact of hourly rounding—which was later found to reduce call lights, falls, and skin breakdowns and to increase patient satisfaction.

  2. A leader may fear losing his edge. If he tells everyone about his best practice, he will be unable to keep up his success. This does not happen frequently, but it does come up.

  3. Sometimes the high-performing leader balks at taking on a “teaching role.” Maybe she doesn’t want others in the organization to think she is showing off or that she is the boss’s favorite. And when she does present, she will even give reasons for why she could successfully implement the best practice but it may be hard for others.

  4. Success is attributed to the leader and not the best practice. People think it’s the leadership and not the practice itself that’s getting the great results—so the actual best practice is missed or underestimated.

  5. Leaders want to keep their autonomy. Implementing someone else’s way of doing something makes them feel they are giving it up. It moves them out of their comfort zone. (This is especially true in the C-suite.)

  6. “Terminal uniqueness” can hamper moving best practices. Leaders are quick to point out how they are just a little bit different and that’s why a certain best practice won’t work for them.

  7. Egos get in the way. By the time some people get to the C-suite, they are better leaders than followers. Or at least they think they are!

  8. There is too much change and not enough time. There simply isn’t enough time for a best practice to be mastered—and it’s dropped before it’s given a fair chance.

The good news, of course, is that there are solutions to all of these roadblocks. Smart organizations will work to overcome them. Best practices are the ticket to great results—and isn’t that what we’re all looking for?


Quint Studer

Quint Studer, CEO

Studer Group

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Who is your spark?

January 13, 2010

I came across this quote awhile back and have always included it in my Inspired Care and Inspired Nurse presentations. Reflect upon this for a moment…“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitzer

For all of us there has been or is someone who kept or keeps us going. As healthcare folks I think this is even truer. Think back on times, in your healthcare journey, when you thought, “I can’t keep going!” For some of us it was in school. Remember those days? Maybe some of you are in school right now. There was that friend, or peer, or instructor that said, “You can do this. Don’t give up.”

Think back on any time when you felt like throwing in the stethoscope (or tool of your trade!). Maybe it was when you were training for a new job, your first job, as a charge nurse, an assistant manager, Senior Technologist, manager….it goes on. There was someone there for you. When your light was fading, they “rekindled” that flame. Sometimes it was with words. Other times it may have been through a helping hand. Whatever it was, it made a difference in your life. Maybe that person continues to play that role today.

The question I have for you is; “Do they know”? Do they know the impact that they have had on your life? Do they know that, maybe, you would not be in healthcare if it weren’t for them? If they don’t, here’s your challenge. Tell them. It is simple. Let them know! Write them a letter. Send them flowers. Drop them an email. Call them. Go and visit them. Let them know that they were, or are, the spark that lights your flame when you feel like you’re going to fade. This gratitude that you extend will serve two purposes. It will help their flame to burn brighter and it will fill your heart and increase your inspiration. After you’ve done this ask yourself one more question: “Who am I a spark to?”.

Be well. Stay inspired.

Rich Bluni, RN

Rich Bluni, RN
Studer Group National Speaker
Studer Group

Read a complimentary excerpt from Rich Bluni’s book, Inspired Nurse, at

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Keep Performers Close…and Document Relentlessly

January 6, 2010

Our research shows that, on average, every supervisor of staff —from the CEO to front line supervisors—reports 1.78 employees who are not meeting performance expectations. When one considers how many leaders an organization may have, you quickly realize that this translates to hundreds (maybe even thousands) of low performers.

Also, of the “not meeting expectations” crowd, between 40 to 60 percent of those identified are not in any form of disciplinary or performance counseling. For that matter, they also have no documentation. This is not fair to them, to their co workers or to the organization. I will get to that in another blog entry.

The point is most organizations need to let some people go. There is no way around it. And this brings up two important points: 1) alleviate the worries of your middle performers, and 2) get really serious about documenting performance issues.

Last week I was talking with someone who told me when they let a person go from their department it caused what they felt was a higher than expected level of anxiety with others in the department. I asked if they had stayed extra close to the other staff as the departure process was taking place. In retrospect, they said they had not.

My advice is this: when you know you will be taking action on a person who has performance issues, first make sure you are close to the other people who do not have performance issues. While the very high performers on your team may not worry, if other staff members are not feeling safe they will have anxiety—and that anxiety will impact both their quality of life and their productivity.

I’m not suggesting that you say, “You are fine, so when you hear that so and so is leaving, relax!” However, you do want to make sure the others in your department know you want to retain them. It’s important to go over what they do well and to clearly state your commitment to development. This way when a change is made they will not feel unnecessary anxiety.

Now for the second point: It used to be that many staff members with performance issues would self-select out when they were held accountable. Not anymore. Why? Quite simply, there are fewer jobs to go to.

Many times, lower performing individuals at the leadership level would relocate when self-selecting out. Today, that’s less likely to happen. Even if these people can find other jobs, they probably cannot sell their homes. So for supervisors this means more relentless documentation.

In summary, each day is a day for leaders to retain those staff members that are performing at or above expectations, which is most of them. And it’s also a day to keep a close watch on those staff members who aren’t meeting expectations—and to make sure you’re keeping careful records on them.

Both actions will help ensure that you have a calm, focused, productive staff today and in the future.


Quint Studer

Quint Studer, CEO
Studer Group

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