Aligning Objectives

When you think of the word health care, what do you think of?  I bet that each one of you will come up with a completely different answer.  Why? Because health care as an industry is expansive.  Health care has always been a complex inter-weaving of providers, patients, consumers, regulations, and job-related functions from organizational shareholders within a company to employees completing direct task related job responsibilities.

The face of health care as we know it in 2015 is continuing to evolve as additional regulations are added through government mandated health care policies. The scope of work is increasing as regulatory and technical changes are made, all while reimbursement continues to decrease. Progress is often associated with a number of challenges to be met. 

As health care advances, the duties required within an organizational job function widens.  Shareholders are tasked with performing a balancing act of driving operational functions and clinical activities while managers tackle facilitating both clinical and operational objectives. Health care managers are expected to meet legal and moral obligations to continually strive to improve patient care while safeguarding the quality of care that each patient receives. Why is this a concern?

Direct care gaps may exist within an organization’s structure of communication from senior leaders down to mid-level managers.   Anyone that has worked within this industry for any length of time understands the implications of this issue.   Have you ever had a senior level manager tell you NOT to do a task, only to turn around within the same hour and have a mid-level manager request you to complete that very same task?  Why?

Because you’re in an industry that deals with humans in every aspect of the word.  What does that mean? Humans are prone to error, over involvement in assisting with tasks, or perhaps, not assertive at setting limits for staff members, or simply inclined to compensate in identified areas of weakness such as sufficient direct care employee staffing.  Chronic understaffing is a long-standing issue in many health care organizations, which leads us to the idea of how senior leaders may manage by crisis. 

So what does being a manager require?  It requires completing important management functions each day within an organization that consists of organizing, planning, directing, staffing, and controlling every day operations. Those functions may include process implementation and sustainability, continuous improvement processes to include document management and change management, all while managing personnel, resources, and patient and employee satisfaction.

When one of those functions fails to meet organizational expectations, or those of the manager, a crisis may result.  Think about this for a moment, if you were a manager functioning in crisis, how would that look?  Would you be withdrawn from your employees, or would you appear unapproachable and offensive in communications with your staff? Over the past several years, there has been increased reporting of bullying type behaviors from bosses within the health care industry. 

Could this really be just a result of the increased high demands on senior and mid management to meet regulatory compliance, patient population demands, technology challenges, and those ever changing demands on required staffing and financial efficiency?  How would you fix this problem?  Would you search for a solution or tools to help?  Instead of managers addressing identified areas of underperformance, they often concentrate on staffing and directing as a key function when managing in crisis.

Managing in this way leads to a reactive approach that is ineffective and directly impacts the organization. Instead, finances and time should be spent on how an organization’s lead management team can focus on being proactive before a crisis occurs. What if I told you that there are technologically savvy tools that exist today to assist with all these areas EXCEPT those focused directly on health care managers?   

Have you ever started a new management position with little to no direction on how a task should be performed but were expected to know how to accomplish that task?  Look around at others in the workforce, can you identify with anyone that has struggled with being instructed on what needs to be accomplished, but not on how they should actually achieve the objective and the necessary steps to get there?  Most of us have experienced this at one time or another, and as you likely already know, the struggle is real! 

This can often lead to poor performance on your part, not because you don’t care, but because you aren’t provided with clear instructions on how to perform various activities within your job description.  Now, reverse the roles, if you were the manager, would having those associated job tasks written in step-by-step instructions lead to greater work productivity for you as a manager?  Would employee satisfaction improve within your team or organization? 

What if you could waive a magic wand and have a program that trains new staff on their responsibilities and clearly outline expectations, wouldn’t that make leading a team more effective and less stressful?  What if there was a very easy way to promote efficiency, increase productivity, decrease communication issues, and increase overall organizational performance not only within your team, but for an entire organization?   Think about the potential..

 

References:

Parand, A., Dopson, S., Renz, A., & Vincent, C. (2014). The role of hospital managers in quality and patient safety: A systematic review. BMJ Open, 4(9), doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014- 005055

Summers, J., & Nowicki, M. (2002). Management by crisis. (Management Issues). (health care industry) (Brief Article). Healthcare Financial Management. Retrieved