Be the change that you wish to see.... in your healthcare business meetings Part 1 of 5

By Adrienne Evatt

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Many of us are familiar with Mahatma Gandhi's inspiring words - "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." With so many regulatory and competitive pressures upon us in healthcare, some may ask how? How do we model and inspire change? As leaders in our healthcare systems, we have a unique and special responsibility in this area.

Getting comfortable with change is a first step. Knowing that change is a constant state of being, and leading successfully in that space, requires the ability to optimize operations while embracing the delicate balance required in managing your human capital. How many times have we had an idea for motivating our workforce (or for motivating just one member of our staff) that we planned and thought about for days? We worked on the right words, meaningful examples we would reference, our tone, and even facial expressions. But somehow, our message lost power along the way. It wasn't as impactful as we wanted it to be, and our teams (and maybe we ourselves) reverted to prior behaviors.

As Gandhi points out, our messages gain in power when they take the form of the actual behavior we model, starting with how we act as leaders in our meetings. In this series of five blogs, we'll cover 10 leadership behaviors that can inspire and maintain true change in your organization. It's this type of executive coaching that Performance Solutions can offer your organization as you address some of the human side of leading change. Everyone looks to leaders in order to guide their own behavior. Your responsibility is undeniable... how you shoulder it is up to you.

1. Start interacting right out of the gate

We've all been in meetings when the presenter, eyes down, starts to methodically walk through the bulleted items on a presentation slide or read lines of data analysis one-by-one. It can be hard to get a word in without rudely interrupting, and by the time there is an opportunity to talk, it can seem insulting and hurtful to state that they need to re-think their approach. Statements from a leader in the room, even a few minutes into a presentation, such as "we want to make this a discussion," or "let's start with some grounding on your topic," or "I'd prefer to hear some of your impressions of this analysis" can seem like a harsh judgment to the presenter. Add that to the nervousness that many presenters feel, and we've lost an opportunity to create a more positive experience for the group.

The key is to start the interaction very early in the process. Early intervention can prevent a 'speech' and encourage discussion. The responsibility for setting a tone for the interaction falls on the leader. The moment eyes drop down to a page, call attention back up by asking a pertinent question. I've even seen an executive in an audience say "I can read, so you don't need to read your slides to me. Please look up and let me know what you think." Getting a two-way dialogue started in the first 30 seconds is the key to a meeting with a different tone. Late intervention can feel like a slap, whereas early involvement feels like an expectation-setting exercise and is less confrontational. Once presenters begin to get a feel for this new style, they will begin to change their approach as they enter business meetings, and a cultural shift should ensue.

2. Be firm, but fair

Setting an environment where serious work with serious results is encouraged and recognized is harder than it looks. Being able to recognize work that was challenging yet worth it requires having a deep knowledge of the subject. People like to be complimented. And it feels good to be the one doling out the kudos. For some leaders it comes naturally while others need to be reminded to focus on the positives. The magic is in the balance. I think the key here is preparation via multiple means. Whether it means having a few short discussions with internal or external colleagues, reading up or walking the hospitals, the more you know the better you can challenge and praise in the meaningful areas of work. How you respond to the work being presented will drive all future behavior in interactions. Taking this work and this presentation seriously is a major step. Providing firm and fair perspective encourages MORE meaningful work, which can push your organization forward at the speed of leadership's drive.

Look for the next blog covering another set of leadership behaviors that can change your organization. Performance Solutions' culture driven performance model can help your organization lead change in this and many other ways.

Comments (3)

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  • Joni Bokovoy August 15, 2013 9:10 PM

    Well said with great examples. This in information I can use now. I look forward to your next blog!

  • Steve Margolis August 19, 2013 10:08 AM

    Useful information.

    In a charged meeting where one needs to make a point, knowing just when to open to the floor can sometime present a challenge.

  • Adrienne Evatt August 21, 2013 11:08 AM

    It can be very challenging to know when to 'open the floor', so to speak, and start the interactions. Frankly there may be times when it is most beneficial to diplomatically interrupt the presenter, while I know this goes against both polite behavior and common practice.