Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lead and Repeat

With the Olympic Winter Games in full swing, it’s got me reflecting on the commitment and dedication it takes an athlete to compete at the highest level. These Olympians are awesome, and the amount of practice and time they invest to excel at their chosen sport is mind-blowing. As I watched them compete this week, I see that it’s not just practice that makes them perfect, but also their dedication to repetition that equals success.

Whether it is tracing the same figure in the ice day after day or the countless times each morning they work on mounting the bobsled, these athletes understand the power in repetition - doing the same thing over and over again in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

I, too, believe in the power of repetition. Not that I am a world-class athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but I have discovered that repetition is a critical component to my success when it comes to managing my team. And it turns out I am not alone. In fact, a 2011 study by Professors Tsedal Neely of Harvard and Paul Leonardi of Northwestern found that “managers who are deliberately redundant move their projects forward faster and more smoothly.”

While I know that I sometimes drive my team crazy emphasizing the same point over and over, I believe this is a critical technique to keeping us focused, mission-driven and on target to deliver the best possible outcomes. The simple reality is that some things need to be repeated in order to be fully realized and understood. Here, I am thinking specifically of an organization’s vision and values - both the culture and what you set out to accomplish, solve and deliver. By repeating these over and over to your team, they will begin to internalize them and then start to repeat them to others. At that point, you will all be speaking the same language and using the same playbook.

It is worth noting, however, that saying the same thing over and over can get a bit exhausting and sometimes, annoying to those around you. So, you need to make sure you change it up a bit from time to time. Don’t miss an opportunity to deliver your key messages in different formats - through an email, a team meeting or leading a call - and get creative in the delivery. Different team members will register key messages on different frequencies and in different ways, so changing things up is a helpful methodology to reach the entire team.

The bottom line is this: don’t be afraid to emphasize the same message over and over to your team. Be intentional and own it. It will help to crystalize your team’s collective focus and help you all achieve Olympic-like success. You might not all be able to land “the quad” but it will help you go for (and deliver) the gold.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Leading By Example

Someone recently asked me, “what is the first thing you think about when you walk into the hospital each morning?” For me, that’s a no brainer. The answer is my team.

Each morning, the item on the top of my mental to do list is what can I do to better support my team. How can I encourage them and provide them with all they need to deliver at a high level both professionally and personally? The reality is that if my team is taken care of, then I am confident our patients are well taken care of, and our organization is moving full speed ahead.

In order to develop and maintain a highly effective team, it is critical to both inspire and engage them on an ongoing basis. As a leader, there is a whole host of ways to do this, but here are a some of the tactics I have found to be most effective:

  • Walk a mile in their shoes: Spend part of the day shadowing teammates. Not only will you get a ground level view as to how your organization “really” runs, but you will have greater appreciation and insight into who they are and their commitment to the organization. More importantly, it will allow you the opportunity to build a meaningful connection with them.

  • Break down the wall: Be visible and accessible. Whether it is buying a team member a cup of coffee in the cafeteria or walking through the office on Monday to check in and swap stories about your weekends, letting your team get to know you outside the conference room is critical to success. 

  • Walk the walk and talk the talk: Be upfront and honest with your team. Share your successes and failures with them. Let them know you are all facing the same challenges and opportunities, and they will be more willing to jump on board and do whatever it takes for the organization.

  • Have their backs: Developing a level of trust with your team is one of the most important things you can do. If you want to build loyalty, you must demonstrate loyalty.  The most effective way to do this is by supporting them and showing them that you have their backs. If you have theirs, they will have yours. 

Your organization will run, and run well, with a team that is engaged and inspired to work hard each day. As the head of the organization, you set the tone and are the one who they look to for support and guidance. If they know you, trust you and believe that you have their best interests at heart, they will follow you anywhere you lead.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Need for Speed

Like most health care leaders, I spend my days on the move.  Some days, it’s more like a bob and weave. Other days, it’s full speed ahead. For a team dedicated to innovation and the transformation of the way we deliver world-class health care, the pace at which we are able to drive change, integrate technology and roll out new services is paramount to our success.

As my team and I keep charging forward, I’m often asked, “How do you accelerate your team’s productivity without compromising quality or diluting outcomes?” For me, quality is the base line. It is where you start and where you end. You either deliver quality or you don’t. If you consistently provide quality service at (or above) the level your constituents expect, amplifying your productivity will not damage your product. In fact, it can help you not only work faster, but smarter and better.

Here are a few tips on how you can turn up the volume on your productivity and that of your team, while continuing to deliver the best possible product:

Get to the point. Know what you are looking for before you walk in the door. Whether it’s meeting with your team or key stakeholders, decide on the specific deliverables you need from each person around the table prior to getting together. You should start these meetings with, “I’m looking to solve this problem, or get this idea off the ground. Here’s how you can help me accomplish this goal.” 

Don’t worry. This approach does not stifle the opinions or ideas of others or limit the contributions made around the table. In fact, it does just the opposite. By assigning your colleagues a specific task or making them responsible for certain information, you provide them with a platform to be a subject expert and make a valuable contribution. It also helps ensure that folks are on task and focused and that meetings stay on topic, last an appropriate amount of time and don’t drag on and on. I know we can all agree that is the worst!

Hand it off. Let others do what they do best and what you don’t have time to handle. Delegation is a critical and often underutilized skill. While there are assignments, projects or duties for which you, and only you, can be responsible, there are many others, I’m sure, that you can assign to a team member with the bandwidth and expertise to tackle them. Take inventory of your action items and prioritize accordingly. This will not only free up your time to make the biggest return on investment and impact, but will empower team members to step up and deliver.

Bring others along. Keep moving and help your team members pick up the pace. If you’re running at a level five and your team is moving at, say, a two, figure out ways to increase their speed. The organization will run at the pace you set and the culture of the organization will reflect your tempo. If you want faster, lead by example and make it a point to emphasize productivity and action. This will inspire others to catch up and keep up.

By moving faster (and smarter), you and your team will successfully accomplish all you set to do. You will be able to drive innovation and expand your scope of work, as you will be quicker to forecast trends and identify and respond to problems. So, don’t be afraid to pick up the pace. There’s so much good stuff ahead. The quicker you move, the sooner you’ll get there.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Health Care with the Click of a Mouse

The recent decision by the FCC to repeal net neutrality got me thinking about the increasing dependence of health care on technology and, more specifically, the internet. While there are a wide range of opinions regarding whether regulation of the internet will help or hurt health care, the reality is that innovation and new applications of technology will support our ability to provide more accessible and better quality care.

The presence of technology also speaks to the increasing trend towards consumerism in health care. Patients are making more decisions when it comes to their health, demanding faster, more accessible and more affordable options. 

Ultimately, the internet supports the delivery of health care in some pretty incredible ways, including:
  1. Telehealth and telemedicine: Telehealth refers to a variety of technologies used to deliver virtual health, medical and education services. It includes telemedicine, which allows health care providers to offer diagnosis and monitoring via technology. At Tampa General Hospital, our TGH Virtual Care platform allows patients to receive medical advice from a board-certified physician using an app on their mobile device or computer. It is a key component to our convenient care offerings and is designed to provide medical care for minor medical conditions when patients can’t fit a traditional office visit into their schedule or they need minor treatment on nights or during the weekend. Telehealth also includes web-based and mobile applications like MyChart, which is used by health systems throughout the country, including TGH. Through MyChart, patients can communicate with their doctors, manage their medical appointments, requests prescription refills and obtain test results. Platforms like MyChart save on costs, especially when it comes to scheduling and missed appointments. It also improves patient experiences and overall satisfaction.
  2. Health Information Exchange: One of the most significant developments in the merger of technology and health care is the digital exchange of a patient’s medical records, tests, images and health care information. As more information is collected and information is exchanged, we will continue to see decreased costs, improved care management, reduced medical errors and an enhanced patient experience.
  3. Health Information Technology Cloud Services: The use of web-based platforms to store health care information has accelerated rapidly over the past few years. Cloud services allow providers to store vast amounts of information in a secure and durable system that is both accessible and cost effective. By being able to access real-time patient information from anywhere through cloud computing, medical professionals are better able to make informed decisions as well as offer even more evidence-based treatment.
  4. Remote Patient Monitoring: This represents the evolution of our ability to monitor patients outside of the hospital, doctor’s office or traditional clinic setting. Whether it is monitoring a patient with a chronic condition on an ongoing basis, or using technology to help diagnose a disease or better understand a patient’s symptoms, remote patient monitoring can be incredibly beneficial. It can dramatically improve a patient’s quality of life as well as contribute to a higher level of care. It can also help improve the accuracy of diagnosis and effectiveness of treatment while lowering costs.

Regardless of what side you come down on in the net neutrality debate, there is no arguing the power and value of the integration of technology in the delivery of health care. It is a merger that is here to stay.