Internal Improvement Leadership Strategic Planning Systems-Process-Improvement

In a recent post, we answered questions from a governing board on issues common to a board of directors. That exchange prompted us to look back over questions that have come in to us from our website and share them here.  We know that when one person shares a question, there are usually many others wondering the same thing, just not putting it forward.

So here are a sampling asked of us recently via our website and the answers we sent back.

Better team and meeting mechanics

The question: Please send me a tool for better team interactions…we have stale meetings week after week, and I would like to see a change.

Our answer: A meeting evaluation form is a good jumping off point for evaluating and fixing meetings you feel have become stale. Team members articulate what is working and what isn’t, which you can use to make improvements to your next meeting. “What I Feel Like Saying” is another great tool used to get people present in the meeting, focus attention, resolve unspoken tensions, etc. Email us for a copy of either tool.

Another suggestion to add more zip to your meetings, if time allows, is to address a current issue at each meeting. Weekly meetings with a stated purpose to “check in and catch up with each other’s work” can grow stale easily. Tackling a problem at each meeting adds some meat, which makes the time more productive. To do this, have the group list out the challenges/problems they see currently in the operations under that group’s control, then prioritize or simply pick one challenge to address. Work as a team to brainstorm solutions and assign tasks to team members for implementation. Then at the next meeting, the team members report on progress, challenges, etc. When that problem is handled, move on to the next.

It is important with this approach, however, to make the identification and solutions of problems to be about the systems, not the people. As the leader, your role will be to continually keep the conversation positive and moving toward fixing the system, not allowing the group to disparage fellow employees.

Benefits of strategic planning?

The question: What is the benefit of strategic planning in an organization? Ours is a health organization.

Our answer: The benefit of strategic planning in any organization, including those in the health industry, is to align the organization toward a determined future, a future you choose and influence instead of one placed on you by lack of preparation and innovation. A plan puts into place initiatives selected to grow the organization as well as projects aimed at strengthening those areas that are weaker. A good strategic plan takes into account what is happening in the external environment, looks down the road to what is likely to happen, and then determines how the organization can posture itself to take full advantage of opportunities and lessen the impact of threats. As in any industry, there is tremendous benefit for a healthcare organization to plan for the future rather than letting the future simply happen.

Steps to resolve a customer-related issue

The question: I am a manager of rehabilitation services in a hospital in Abu Dhabi. I need to improve our patient No-Show Rate.  How do I start and what are the essential steps to let me to achieve the goal?

Our answer:  Below are some steps to get you started on improving a system, in your case a reducing your no-show rate:

  1. Determine what the issue is in your customers’ eyes. In this example, why are patients not showing up for their appointments? Contact customers and gather data on the barriers/choices that are behind their behavior and choice.
  2. Collate the reasons given by your customers in step #1 to determine the most common responses as well as those that are most easily fixed.
  3. Brainstorm with your team potential solutions to the priority reasons given in step #2.
  4. If possible, review your potential solutions with a sample of customers and fine tune the solutions based on their feedback.
  5. Implement solutions one at a time and make them known to your customers.
  6. Continue to gather and track data on your changes to assess their impact.

Difficult boss or employer

The question: My boss is an ineffective leader. Always speaking not listening, imposing instructions not discussing, sometimes policing through informal reports and holding us accountable for mistakes not in our control. We are not getting help from him, rather he ignores our emails.

Our answer:  Here is how we would advise you to approach the situation. People change for one of two reasons: 1) they want something they can actually see in their future enough to make the needed change or 2) they fear the consequences of continuing enough to make the change. An example of the first reason would be someone being in love and wanting to win the heart of someone enough to change a habit that the other person finds annoying. An example of the second would be a physician announcing to someone that if they don’t stop smoking they will die of lung cancer and this being enough to stop smoking.

If your boss could be motivated by the positive reason, then you might approach and say, “X would be possible if you could empower those below you to be more productive, effective, motivated, etc.” This will work if there is a strong vision or goal that your boss could be motivated by, particularly if he is struggling to attain it now because of his leadership behavior.

More likely, your boss would be motivated out of fear of consequences. For example, fear of everyone resigning or a work stoppage or adverse actions by your funding sources. So, the question is, are there consequences from his behavior that are likely and are a concern to him? If so, you can simply ask, “what do you see happening if there are no changes?” Then, if he is willing to ask for advice this gives you the opening you need.

Here is the big challenge for you at the moment: Does your boss consider your an ally or an enemy? If the results of your previous attempts to get him to change have been that he now sees you as an enemy, then you have to change that first before he will listen to you. The way to do that is to find something that he wants to have happen and help him get that done. Work your way back to being an ally and then you have a shot at helping him change. To get there, you will need to find something that you genuinely like or respect about your boss despite his faults. His intelligence? Work ethic? Find something. Without this, your head remains full of negative thoughts about him, and he will pick that up and never see you as an ally.

Questions of your own?

What questions do you have?  Above are just 4 of the many we have answered over the years through our newsletter and website. If you have an issue at work that could use some outside input, send us a note.  We would be more than happy to get you started on a solution.