Archive for the 'Teamwork' 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.


A Fresh Look at Standards of Behavior

October 9, 2007

Is it time to review your organization’s standards of behavior? 

Standards of behavior are developed with the goal that, if followed, several critical results will follow: 

  • Patients will perceive excellent care
  • Staff will feel positive about organization
  • Physicians will find the practice of medicine efficient and effective

Given the importance of having standards that directly support your organizational goals, is it time to take your standards to the next level?  To update them?  In organizations across the nation we are beginning to see the next generation of standards of behavior.  

At Delray Medical Center in Florida, some of the units have reviewed the organization’s standards and made commitments on how to implement them within their unit. For example, their Med/Tele unit has such commitments as, “I will take responsibility for hourly rounds to assess my patients’ needs” and “I will round with the attending physician when requested.” 

Standards are put in place so staff can have input into the type of work environment in which they work best. Thereby, expectations are clear.   There is consistency in performance so patients receive better care, and departments and staff work well together. 

When standards are used well, patients, their families, physicians and the staff benefit. When written but not followed, the standards become one of those ideas that made sense, took time and effort to write, had promise, but are sitting in the program/buzzword graveyard. 

If your organization is not achieving your goals in these areas, it is a strong possibility that the standards are not being followed by some within your organization. To see if this is the case, have Human Resources audit the departments that are not achieving positive staff, patient and physician satisfaction. 

Oftentimes these audits will find that the standards are not being addressed.  Staff is either not being written up for not following standards, or not being recognized for following them.  There is usually little proof that the standards are being emphasized by the leader at all, which means that there could be a leadership problem in a low performing department. 

What is permitted is promoted. You may have a leader who needs more mentoring, coaching or, in some cases, removal. 

In summary, we all get off track. This may be a great time to assess how well your organization is using the standards of behavior. The insight you gain may help you take your standards to the next level.

If you are using standards well, please let me know. There are always organizations looking for better or best practices.  If you have a success story, please share.  If you need advice or have a question, please ask. 

Thank you for your commitment to making health care even better.


P.S. I know that many readers of this blog are concerned about whether their organization is ready for the increased transparency of information that will be available to the public through the HCAHPS survey. We recently taped a webinar on this topic that shows how to use specific, field tested tools to increase patients’ perception of care in your organization and how to impact HCAHPS with evidence based practices.  You can learn more here HCAHPS Update 2007 Webinar.

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

Overcoming the Full Plate Syndrome Part 2: Tools to Create More Time

June 7, 2007

In my last blog, I talked about ways that organizations can reduce conflicting priorities for leaders and give them the skills they need to succeed for higher job satisfaction and better outcomes. Specifically, I recommended integrating measurable, objective goals into the organization’s evaluation system; weighting the goals to create clear priorities; and committing to leadership skill development. If you missed this blog, you can read it here.
In Part 2 on this topic, I’d like to urge leaders to proactively take charge of their own time by working smarter, not harder.

Not New, Better
Sometimes when Studer Group begins coaching an organization and introduces new leadership tools, leaders will tell us they don’t have time to do so many new things. We find that they feel more comfortable—and are even energized—once they understand that they are not being asked to do additional activities, but rather, to use a more efficient approach for current practices to get more satisfying outcomes.
Consider this list of practices most leaders already do and what works better to achieve outcomes:

Current Practices More Effective Approaches
1. Hold department meetings 1. Use Pillar Agendas at meetings
2. Talk to employees 2. Round for Outcomes
3. Employee reward and recognition 3. Write thank you notes
4. Employee selection and orientation 4. Use peer interviews and 30/90 day      meetings
5. Retain employees 5. Hold individual employee meetings
6. Talk to patients 6. Use key words at key times
7. Pre- and post-calls to patients 7. Pre- and post-calls to patients
8. Evaluations 8. Leader evaluations
9. Conduct leadership training

As you can see, the only new item on the list is leadership training. This is critical and necessary to ensure that leaders are growing the skills that move organizational performance and can manage their full plates. Aside from that, we recommend hardwiring more efficient tools that get better results for things leaders are already spending time on.

“Not New, but Better” also means that things leaders currently do on an occasional basis—say, holding a department meeting only when it seems urgent—now get done on a scheduled basis to ensure strong communication with an outcomes-oriented agenda that impacts organizational goals. Likewise, while some nurses may talk to some patients sometimes, we recommend standardizing the use of key words at key times.  Remember—CMS will soon be publicly reporting on whether your patients say you “always, sometimes, or never” are responsive to their needs. When every nurse every time uses the key words, “Is there anything else I can do for you? I have time,” patients answer “always” on their surveys. Read my blog on always here if you missed it.

So, not new but better. Studer Group coach Tonia Breckenridge recently presented some excellent suggestions on how to manage the full plate at the third Leadership Development Institute of a Studer Group partner organization and received excellent feedback from leaders. So I wanted to share her suggestions with you:

  1. Regularly evaluate your activity versus your outcomes. Meet with your supervisor on a scheduled basis to review your annual goals and 90-day plan. Discuss what you are doing that does not contribute to your outcomes and whether to continue these activities.
  2. Develop people.  When you delegate, you give others the opportunity to grow while opening up space on your own plate to take on key projects that will accelerate outcomes. Tonia cites a personal mentor who is masterful at identifying and capitalizing on the best strengths and skill sets of those he supervises, instead of trying to fix their weaknesses. As a result, his own capacity to achieve more is always increasing.
  3. Deal with low performers. Low performers eat up your time. Nobody ever wishes they waited longer to fire a low performer. Move their performance up or move them out of the organization quickly. It will save you time—and much pain—in the long run.
  4. Round for Outcomes. Even if you have as many as 60 direct reports, you can accomplish this in 30 minutes a day and connect with each individual at least once monthly. (This assumes you round on 3 individuals daily, spending five minutes with each person and allowing 15 minutes for follow-up on identified issues.) Hardwiring rounding will boost your employee retention and create a culture of problem-solving and recognition. You will get an unbelievable return on investment from this time spent with employees, physicians, and better patient outcomes.

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

Overcoming the Full Plate Syndrome Part I: How to Make Time for What’s Important

June 6, 2007

These are some words I hear a lot from leaders as I travel the country:
“I have too much on my plate. How can I possibly fit it all in?”

This is such an important issue that I’d like to address it in two parts. First, I want to share Studer Group’s experience on what organizations can do to increase the effectiveness of all leaders. In my next blog, I will share specific tactics for individuals that are highly effective.

In my seminars, when I ask attendees “How many of you have a full plate at work?”, almost all hands go up. In fact, I suspect that the people who aren’t raising their hands are feeling so overwhelmed they feel they don’t even have time to raise their hands. 

Senior leaders in the C suite say that responding to financial pressures eats up their day. Managers say they just have too much to do. But here’s the thing…when I ask seasoned leaders if they feel they had a full plate 10 years ago, the same hands go up. I can see them thinking, “I had no idea know what a full plate was back then.”

A Brief Look at History
So what was keeping us so busy ten years ago? Well, we were coming off re-engineering and were trying to learn how to do more with less staff. The Balanced Budget Act and managed care pressures were requiring us to do more with less money. Then there was the physician issue: Should we employee them? Not employ them? We were also agonizing over the aging healthcare workforce and how to meet the needs of the aging baby boomer population. Sound familiar?

We may call some of these challenges by slightly different names, but the pressures today are really just the same and just as urgent. We feel pulled in too many directions and frustrated by our inability to use our time to meet our mission.

But here’s a secret: We will always have full plates because we are passionate about what we do in healthcare. We’re also achievers. So even if something falls off the plate, we’re quick to add something new. Because we’re compassionate in healthcare, we’re also not very good at saying no when people ask us to do something.

The thing is, once we accept that the plate is always going to be full, we can be more effective managing it. In his book, The Road Less Traveled, the late author Scott Peck noted that “Life is difficult. Once we accept that, life is not as difficult.” The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says it too: Ones’ serenity is in direct proportion to ones’ acceptance.

So What Can We Do?

If we agree that our success is measured by our ability to realize the organization’s mission through specific organizational outcomes, then we have to find ways to spend the bulk of our time on the priorities that impact these outcomes. Sometimes our desire to accomplish a lot clouds our priorities with excess activity.

In working with many organizations to create evidence-based leadership, Studer Group has found that the keys to achieving outcomes are alignment, execution and accountability. In other words, goals and actions are aligned across the organization and consistently executed.

 Leaders that we coach benefit from three key actions:

  1. Integrating measurable, objective outcomes into the evaluation system.  When we begin working with a new organization, we frequently find they are using a subjective, competency-based evaluation system. By themselves, these systems do not typically achieve the organization’s desired outcomes. Here’s why: Competency does not assure consistent execution. Competencies are the “what” that we do. Measurable objectives, on the other hand, show leaders expected outcomes. As a result, they also reveal the competencies required to achieve those outcomes.Competency-based evaluation systems are no doubt easier to put in place and receive less pushback from some leaders than objective evaluation systems do, but in the end they frequently do not achieve the outcomes the organization desires. We find that when organizations implement our leader evaluation system there is an immediate breakthrough in results and performance gaps are quickly identified for swift action. Many organizations also find them to be an excellent succession planning tool. It becomes clear what a leader needs to accomplish to move up in the organization.
  2. Using a system to prioritize these measurable outcomes. I recently heard a hospital president in New York—Jon Schandler of White Plains Hospital Center—explain that leaders tend to gravitate to their comfort zones, which frequently do not match the organization’s needs. The way to deal with this: Weight outcomes on a leader’s evaluation so priorities are clear.Here’s a situation Studer Group coaches frequently see when reviewing evaluations: An organization is focused on improving patient safety. Leaders are familiar with the CMScore measures being reported on. And yet, leaders who can most impact these clinical outcomes do not have a goal on their evaluation that would make this a high priority for them. Weighted goals in objective leader evaluations are what aligns the time the leader spends to the desired outcome.  In fact, a CNO I know recently credited the organization’s use of Studer Group’s Leader Evaluation ManagerSM for bringing the focus needed to cut ICU central line infections by 46% (a $432,000 annual savings). You can read another case study here.
  3. Building leadership skills.  If we all agree the external healthcare environment will continue to get more difficult, then it follows that more skilled leadership at all levels of the organization is necessary for success. Developing skills in our leaders is the lynchpin to making gains and sustaining excellent outcomes. Just as many organizations host “skills days” to validate clinical competencies, so must we validate leadership skills.Senior leader teams that take the time to identify the skills their leaders need to achieve specific outcomes and have methods in place to attain and assess these skills will do well in the future. While it’s true that any new skill requires some extra time to master initially, the return on investment of time is huge as we improve. Rounding for Outcomes, for instance, requires a little time to become efficient, but it gives leaders back hundreds of hours when low performers move up or out and repetitive, routine problems are finally fixed once and for all.Isn’t reducing leadership variance at least as important as standardizing purchases through approved vendors? Or use of the corporate logo? I wonder, because I find that many organizations spend more time on these things than they do reducing leadership variance. High-performing organizations create clear leadership expectations for service and operational excellence and hold leaders accountable for meeting them. But they also provide a road map on how to get there with training on specific leadership competencies. From training managers how to hire the best employees to teaching strategic change leadership to senior leaders, leadership development matters.

Hardwire It

At Studer Group, we use the term “hardwiring” to describe the process of putting systems, skills, tools and techniques in place to assure consistent execution. Leadership training and an outcome-based evaluation are two of the most critical tools to hardwire. When an organization puts a structured management system in place with these elements, it creates the kind of accountability that assures the culture will outlast the people in the room.

The reality is that my plate and your plate will always be full. But we can manage it with confidence and success if we have the right tools.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts on this. Please share your comments.

Hardwiring those powerful letters we receive

May 22, 2007

We all need those letters.

In a recent survey of leaders we asked the question, “When was the last time you shared a patient letter in your department meetings with staff?” It turns out 60 percent of leaders had not done so in the past 6 months. Why? We can come up with a variety of reasons, but I find the two most often given are, “I don’t get copies of patient/family letters” and “I did not know I was supposed to, or could.”

Let’s hit the first reason. In our work we find almost all health care workers, whether they provide direct patient care, support services or any number of roles, went into and stay in health care for the same reason – they like what it represents. What is that? Their organization makes a difference in people’s lives. Employees love to hear about the impact their organization is having, the lives saved, and the end-of-life care that, while not saving a life, made such a positive impact. There are differences made in so many ways. We work in organizations surrounded by miracles.

Positive letters are printed in newsletters (after taking legal steps to protect writers or obtaining permission to use), which is good, but we can do more. Take time to send letters to all leaders. Even staff that don’t provide direct patient care enjoy the letters and feel good about the impact their organization makes. It also provides leaders the chance to connect staff back to the difference they make through their roles. When rounding on staff, have leaders show the letters and read them to staff. Ask leaders to read the letters at their own department meetings, too.

This hits point two. Most administrators read positive letters at department head meetings. But are we sure those leaders bring the letters and messages back to their staff? Most employee forums (town hall meetings) include letters from patients/family members thanking the organization, specific people and departments. This does not ensure that all staff hear these great letters for only those that attend the meeting receive the message.

I encourage organizations to hardwire the practice of leaders taking positive messages/letters back to their units from department meetings and employee forums as well as reading them out of the newsletter.

It’s easy to tell when the staff feels good about where they work. You see staff wearing the hats, shirts and buttons with your organization’s logo on them when you’re around the community. Heck, they even keep their name badge on when stopping at the grocery store on the way home.

This past year we have collected many stories about the difference makers in health care. These are now in a book, which contains a health care story for every day of the year. We will be providing this book complimentary to all people at the June 11-13, What’s RIGHT In Health Care conference. As I read the stories it reinforced how fortunate I am to be on this journey with you. Thank you.


It’s All about Always, part one

May 15, 2007

My “ah ha!” these last several months is the different impact the words always, most of the time, and sometimes have when it comes to performance.   We now have H-CAHPS, which will create the healthcare language of always, usually, sometimes, never.

Over the years, in many areas we have hardwired always.  If you are a member of a purchasing group, leaders always buy from a specific menu.   If you have a budget due, it is always done by the start of the new fiscal year.

In operations, the elusive ingredient which separates the perennial high performing leaders and organizations is consistency.  Consistency for patient experiences, employee work environment and physicians’ practice of medicine.  Many feel we run four organizations: the day, night, weekend and holiday organizations.

The implementation tools and techniques backed by evidence that achieve and sustain high performance results are what we at Studer Group call “evidence-based leadership.”  Evidence-based leadership helps create an always organization.  The foundation of evidence-based leadership is to begin with aligned goals, which are created by effective leader evaluations and a leadership development process that links to desired organizational outcomes.

Prior to visiting an organization I have leaders complete a survey.  It asks leaders to evaluate the effectiveness of these foundational aspects of evidence-based leadership.  The survey covers such things as, “Do you have a formal meeting with new employees on their 30th and 90th day?  If you are an inpatient nurse leader, what percent of patients do you visit (round on) each day? What percent of patients receive a discharge phone call?”

There are questions on the healthcare environment, too, so it gauges understanding of the leaders on the current and future healthcare environment and their readiness for success.   

We use this data combined with the organization’s results to implement the next steps to either achieve excellence and/or to sustain excellence.   After reviewing the results of these surveys from hundreds of organizations, we have learned a lot. 

When it comes to patients’ perception of care, it is all about always.  That is the topic of this blog.

When I review survey results, I ask the top leaders of the organization “Are the nurse leaders rounding on patients?  Are discharge phone calls being made? Are outpatients being contacted to remind them of their appointment to reduce patient no-show rate?”

The answer I get is “yes.”  It is a true answer.  It is what they hear when they ask leaders these questions.

So what separates the high performing leader and organization from the middle performing leader and organization from the low performer leader and organization? It is the impact of always.

High performing leaders and organizations have hardwired the tools and or techniques so they are always done.

The middle performing leader is a most of the time leader in using effective tools and techniques. 

The low performing leader is sometimes.

When the question is asked the answer is, “Yes, I round. Yes, 30- and 90-day meetings on new hires.  Yes, discharge phone calls.”

It is not until the verification of frequency system is put in place does it come to light that the difference is not who does the behavior, for almost all leaders or organizations can say they do it.  It is the hardwiring of the tool and technique so it is an always behavior; not a most of the time or sometimes behavior.

The other confusing issue is a leader who says they always do it. We find that this means it may take place five out of seven days.  For example, consider leader rounding on patients.  We find that patients’ and physicians’ experiences at the hospital during the weekday are much different than the weekends. So, for some practices, the hardwiring needs to be for seven days, not five.

Measuring “always”.  How can leaders assess whether they are an always organization?  One great way to find out is to ask your patients.  For the more than 3,000 organizations using the H-CAHPS survey, patients are already telling them.  The H-CAHPS instrument asks patients to describe their perception of the quality of their care by rating the frequency of events during their care (never, sometimes, usually, always).

By asking patients if they always see key events, leaders can quantify how hardwired those behaviors are from the perspective of the most important person in their organization . . . the patient.

Less is more.  Today, we know that doing more may get you less and doing less will get you more.  Our experience has taught us that it is better to have a leader implement one new tool or an adjusted technique until they achieve always, rather than doing more than one tool or technique most of the time or sometimes.  Then the leader, unit, department and division experiences success, the tool or technique is hardwired, and the maximum impact is gained so the leader can see if more has to be done.  And, if more needs to be done, the leader can choose the next step much more wisely.

At our June 11-13 What’s RIGHT in Health Care conference, organizations who are successfully building a culture of always will be presenting. Hope you can join us.


Supporting and Appreciating Emergency Departments

March 2, 2007

Reading our professional journals, government releases and the variety of health care reports on problems, challenges, and failures in health care, I can at times fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself or taking on a victim mentality.

After spending time on Saturday, February 24, 2007, with more than 1,400 emergency nurses at the Emergency Nurses Association meeting in Boston, I feel so much better. I saw such dedication to the health care calling, motivation to learn how to be even better leaders, and perseverance to keep striving to make a difference in health care. My flame got brighter thanks to these 1,400 difference makers.

At the session, I described something I was part of years ago that worked to improve outcomes. We had all department directors and members of the senior team spend one full shift working in the emergency department shadowing an emergency department staff member. At times working in an emergency department is similar to working at a desk at an airport. Both emergency staff and airport staff report delays, changes, and cancellations. While these are caused by other factors, the people at the desk take the brunt of others’ frustrations.

After experiencing a shift in the emergency department, many leaders went back to their own departments and fixed things to make service better for the emergency department; some leaders took ideas from the emergency department and improved their areas. All leaders left the emergency department with better relationships with emergency staff members.

Have leaders spend a shift in the emergency department and it will create better outcomes. Please let me know how it goes.

I meet many people in health care. There are many characteristics health care providers have in common. It is evident to me that health care providers are hard on themselves. One of my biggest challenges is helping health care providers be kinder to themselves. There is a lot of what’s right in health care. Never underestimate the difference you make.

New Employee Orientation

December 5, 2006

Studies show that a minimum of 27 percent of employees who leave an organization do so within the first year of their employment. With the help of many healthcare organizations with which we work, we at SG have developed best practices in selection and the use of the 30- and 90-day supervisor/new employee meetings. Now we want to explore those very first days when all new staff become oriented to an organization.

Here is one interactive technique that I found to be successful. Please blog on what works for you. When done, we will compile a list of best tactics for new employee orientation


When I was President of a hospital, this is a technique that I found worked. The first morning of orientation, after introductions, I quickly broke the new employees into small groups. The size varied depending on the overall number present, but usually there were about five people in a group. Each group selected a recorder and someone who would report on their findings. Then the groups were given the same two handouts.

The first handout asked them to describe what a great workplace looks and feels like. Sometimes I provided a few examples to get the groups started. Quickly the groups got to work and developed a list of attributes. These ranged from knowing what’s going on, tools, and fair pay to recognition, training, and more. Each group then presented to the large group. Each presenter didn’t have to repeat a point already made, so the process went quickly. Each presenter was given a WOW card to signify his/her stepping out and presenting. This led to an explanation of the various recognitions staff could earn. All points were listed on a flip chart. This also gave me an opening to discuss what they described was the type of culture we want also. I provided examples to demonstrate the points listed.


The second handout asked the groups to list the characteristics and behavior they wanted in their supervisors. I used the same process as the first question and found a few examples helped them get started. Most groups listed being a good communicator.  It is important then to ask the group to go into more detail on what they mean by communication. This is also reported out. These presentations also led to a good discussion on what the organization’s goal is in leadership, what the staff will see, and good times to manage up their supervisor. I provided examples for them to expect. I would explain they will see the manager round on them and ask specific questions. They will be involved with peer interviewing.

That afternoon all attendees received a copy of their work. An email went to all leaders explaining that the current orientation group had completed the work on the two questions and giving them the list of what the staff was looking for and expecting. This took place 26 times per year. Each time the lists were very similar. These email reports proved to be great reminders and reinforcements to the leaders.


While I served as president of Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, Bob Murphy worked for me in a variety of roles and eventually became the administrator. He is now with Studer Group on a full time basis as a presenter/teacher. I’m grateful to be working with Bob again. He is a great leader and presenter. He recently described many techniques on this subject. I have picked one to share with you.


There is an activity that can be done in the new employee orientation that will lead to instant alignment with the organization’s goals and objectives. In the handouts provided to each new employee, include a page with five inter-locking circles. At the top of the page is the question “Where would you focus?” Break the employees into groups of five or six people with this instruction, “You have just been promoted to CEO, where would you focus?” The employees fill in each of the five circles with the things they would focus on if they were CEO. After a few minutes’ discussion, solicit the ideas from the groups. It is amazing that no matter how many times you do this, the new folks always identify the five pillars: Service, Quality, People, Financial, and Growth. It gives you the opening to explain what would be measured under each pillar.

For example, if a group reports that they would focus on employee satisfaction, you can link that to the People pillar and discuss key goals such as lowering turnover below a certain percentage. Then explain why lowering turnover is important for quality, physician collaboration, satisfaction of other employees, and lowered costs of replacement. You should be able to connect the dots and explain many of the goals of the organization.

We want to know what you doing to make your new employee orientations successful. Please add your ideas and suggestions to the comment section of this post. We will compile into a list and send out for your review.


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.