In an ever-changing landscape of federal mandates and metrics, the healthcare industry has continued to struggle to find its footing rooted in health “care”. Several books have been written on the tactical side of patient care…how to set expectations and accountabilities so that hospital systems experience a rise in patient satisfaction scores…the newest accountability stick. Have you ever experienced the following scenario: goals are clarified, expectations (and even tactics) are set in place, and all parties are informed that an accountability plan will be implemented so that success is the only option? Then, after a short run, everything goes back to “normal”.
What I have described above is the typical scenario in leadership teams across the nation. It is what I refer to as compliance management….very different than inspirational leadership. Compliance management is draining employees from their passion to do meaningful work. Fear is the underlying motivator rather than inspiration. Fear drives employees to function. As long as they know they are being “held accountable” they will do what is told. At this point you might be saying “People need to be held accountable so what’s the problem?” The problem is this: there is an inherent foundation in team performance that often gets overlooked. The early stages of team dynamics centers around the employee and how that person fits into the equation. Clarity of personal values and how it ties into the bigger picture, trust being built among teammates and leaders, and the time taken to foster personal relationships is critical at the early stages of team formation.
I often hear the excuse of “I don’t have time” when it comes to anything leadership. Healthcare is perhaps the clearest example of task saturation (too many goals and tasks to focus on). However, the emphasis on too many meetings and goals has become the norm in this world of “do more with less”. We find that throughout many industries “busyness” manifests itself through behaviors such as being connected to your phones, tablets, excessive meetings, extra work hours, etc. It has even impacted our personal relationships and time to ourselves. Often the weekend passes as your loved ones remind you to “pay attention”. The cycle perpetuates as you return to the office the following Monday realizing you are already tired and the work week just started. Task saturation has created internal chaos in many of us. The world is spinning and so are our heads.
So what do we do to get ourselves grounded in the root of what matters? First and foremost, get back to what matters to you. The ability to influence another human being lies solely within your power. Self-reflection is not easy for some but creating that awareness within your self will allow you step outside of your auto pilot mode and help you understand what it is you want to create. Do you want to inspire or do you simply want compliance? And then ask yourself “why”. We all have motivators that drive our behaviors. For some, it may prestige, money, and power. For others it may be helping others, being a source of education, or creating. Finding your own passion is critical before moving forward to the next steps.
Next, recognize that you are now part of a larger team. Each teammate has a motivator and a vision of what he or she wants. This vision is steeped in two arenas: the vision of what you want for your team and the personal vision of what you want for yourself. The formation of a vision amongst the leadership team is not to be taken lightly and is often the Achilles heel when it comes time for full execution. Take careful time and consideration of what your vision looks like as this is your roadmap to the future. Furthermore, consider if your values align with the team’s values. If not, how will you find value in the work you do and how long do you plan on staying?
If you have read this far, my hope is that you’ve recognized this article is not really about your team. It is about you. YOU are the catalyst to create an inspired team. YOU can create compliance or you can create inspiration. Compliance will only last as long as you ensure the hall monitor is present 24 hours a day. Inspiration will fuel itself and create an army of advocates that fuel each other. It is the difference between managing through fear and leading through inspiration. In the end, you are responsible for a team that feels like their value is being honored and supported.
When was the last time you have taken a true moment to self-evaluate whether your values are in alignment with the way you lead your teammates? Are you perpetuating something that you wouldn’t necessarily do if you truly “had the time” to accomplish it? Are you making decisions and implementing tactics simply to meet your departmental goals? Are the expectations creating compliance or inspiration? Get beyond the tactics and get back to the core…your people…starting with you.