Archive for the 'Development' Category

MORE Skills for a New Economy: A Message to All Employees

March 2, 2011

(Part Two of Two)

In Part One, we discussed the need for employees to take ownership of their roles and the organization’s mission for all to gain sustainable excellence in the challenging times ahead. We explored ways employees at all levels can show their value across the organization and own their own development.

Here are a few more tips for leaders to share with staff members as they strive to become more valuable (and valued) in today’s tough new economy:

Understand the Connection between Time and Money.

Think about ways to be more effective and help others. When building a budget, consider all factors—including salary (often the biggest expense in a project) and time to complete. Be aware that as a project drags past its deadline, the chance it will go over budget increases.

Here are a few ways to be a good steward of your organization’s resources:

  • Get in the habit of quantifying. Avoid words like “a lot” and other generalizations. Get very specific and require others to do the same. Countless hours (and endless money) can be spent on activities because of reports that there were “a lot” of requests. When we take time to quantify the requests, we often find that “a lot” really means just a few people.
  • Keep things simple. When projects get too complicated, they either don’t get completed, or they result in considerable overruns on budget and missed deadlines.
  • Get the to-do list reviewed regularly. Focus on tasks that connect to the organization’s business goals; reduce the busywork.
  • Get timelines, a deliverables schedule, and a budget on everything you do. This is step one on any project. Creating a framework in the beginning forces an employee to think things through and often eliminates READY, FIRE, AIM problems. Report back regularly as to whether the project is on time and on budget.
  • Learn to ask, “How will we measure results?” Asking this question in the beginning allows us to really evaluate whether the project is worthwhile. It keeps employees from starting dead-end projects with no value…and allows us to showcase successful projects for a nice win.
  • Don’t confuse activity with progress. Focus on what matters. Twenty percent of the work creates 80 percent of the results. Can you move that number?
  • Give regular updates on ongoing projects. Something may have changed, or someone may have a new idea to make it better. Be proactive to stay on course.
  • Review processes regularly to make sure they don’t need updating. Continue to re-evaluate the way things are done and search for improvements. Don’t fall into habits.
  • Ask, “Is there something I do that could be outsourced?” An employee should let leadership know if there is a part of his or her job that the company could do more quickly, more efficiently, or less expensively by outsourcing. In the long run, an employee who thinks like this will show more value to the organization and will soon be on his or her way to bigger and better things.
  • Learn to put the well-being of your team over your own comfort. Think, If it were my money on the line, my future at stake, what would I do?

Remember, Communication Is Everything!

Work to create an infrastructure whereby information can flow. Then, do everything possible to help effectively move that information through the process.

Here’s how:

  • Communicate early and often. It will increase the odds of success exponentially.
  • Be more than an e-mailer. Sometimes it’s best to pick up the phone. It builds relationships. Plus, real conversations spark new ideas, and too much back and forth over e-mail may slow down the process.
  • Share information anytime you can. Ask yourself, What do I know and who else can benefit from it?
  • Think strategically about your e-mail CC line. There’s a delicate balance between keeping busy people in the loop and overwhelming them with too much (unnecessary) information. When copying someone on an email, be sure to let the recipient know what is expected. 
  • Reach out to others. Set aside a few minutes each week to reach out to people you don’t see that often. It creates goodwill and is the first step in collaborating in a meaningful way.
  • When asking for help, give a timeline. It helps busy people know how to sequence their projects.
  • Be clear. It eases anxiety. Before hitting “send” on an e-mail correspondence, review the note to make sure all the questions are answered and there is clarity in the letter.
  • Report the good and the bad. We can learn so much from mistakes. Mistakes help pinpoint areas where we need to get better and create an internal sense of urgency.

Tough times are ahead, and we need to be owners of ourselves and our organization, not renters. Show value. Actively seek personal development opportunities. Maximize profitability. Communicate. Standards have never been higher—and more public—so now is the time for employees to strive for excellence at every level, every time.


Skills for a New Economy: A Message to All Employees

February 23, 2011

(Part One of Two)

We are living and working in tough times. The healthcare industry is changing, budgets are shrinking, and a national emphasis on quality means our outcomes need to keep getting better and better.

Even organizations with a strong culture and talented employees can’t afford to relax. There is an unprecedented need for excellence at every level, every time.

What does that mean for individuals? It means every employee needs to consistently show his or her value—to bosses, to coworkers, and to patients.

Here’s the message leaders need to convey to staff members: To gain the sustainable excellence we’ll need to meet the challenges that lie ahead, we all need to take ownership of our individual roles and our organization’s mission.

So how can an employee show value and do his or her best possible work every time? Here are a few insights and suggestions to share with staff:

Hone Your Ability to Transfer Your Value across the Organization.

As the external environment gets more complex, an individual’s ability to survive and succeed is directly related to the ability to connect the dots, show insight, and communicate well with others. It’s important to show value to peers and leaders, inside and outside of your department.

Here’s how:

  • Understand the group you support. Know your audience. It’s important that we all learn to manage our time with consideration to the time of those we work with.
  • Have a nose for money and opportunity. Be efficient. Look for opportunities and be known as a problem solver inside the company.
  • Periodically attend other department meetings. It’s amazing how a different perspective changes the way we view things. Not only does this help us understand how what we do affects others, a fresh pair of problem-solving eyes in the group may help resolve the problem.
  • Offer insight. Be an active participant and share key learnings with those not in the meeting.
  • Connect what you do to revenue. While it isn’t possible to do with every job, most positions do connect to revenue directly or indirectly. Understanding this and being able to articulate it can help show value.
  • Understand the external environment and the need for a culture of always. Knowing the state of our industry, it’s important to create a culture of always that constantly implements best practices—every time, on every occasion, without exception.
  • Step outside your comfort zone. Sometimes people are too close to a challenge to see a solution. A fresh perspective—yours—can help others in the organization “connect the dots” in a new way. Being willing to boldly offer insights from an “outsider” point of view is a great way to show individual value.

Own Your Professional Development.

When we make a conscious effort to learn new things, professional development happens organically. Seek out structured professional development and training while keeping in mind that some of the most effective growth happens in day-to-day interactions.

Here’s how to make it happen:

  • Evaluate your personal brand. Do you like what you see? If not, it’s time to make adjustments. If you do, it’s time to take your personal brand to the next level. It’s important for employees to be self-aware and to get their unique talents out there.
  • Search out best practices and use them. Studer Group has spent years inside our National Learning Lab of nearly 800 healthcare organizations researching, harvesting, and refining the best ideas for maximizing human potential. Become familiar with the theories and enable them to work.
  • Take constructive criticism well. Honest feedback is a critical part of professional development. Think carefully about how to respond when feedback that is less than positive comes in.
  • Duplicate yourself. Mentor and teach whenever possible. Not only is it good for the organization (it frees you up for other things), it is incredibly rewarding.

The tips noted here focus on an individual’s personal value, brand, and development. In Skills for a New Economy, Part Two, we will focus on how each employee can take these skills to the whole company through maximizing profitability and communication.


Quint Studer

Quint Studer, CEO
Studer Group