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Why People are Not Your Greatest Asset

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 26, 2011

If employees like their job, if they like their bosses, if they are engaged in their work, if they are properly compensated, if their concerns are addressed, if they are treated respectfully, if there are opportunities for development, then they will invest more of their time, talents, and commitment – their capital – in your hospital. If not, they’ll leave, or dial back their efforts.

“An effective 21st-century manager manages the environment for success more than the people,” Davenport says. “At the end of your project or your year or your career, you’re saying ‘I did a really good job. I am responsible for my success.’ And [the manager is] offstage saying ‘You bet you are because I created the environment that allowed you to be successful.’”

To create that productive work environment, Davenport says supervisors must give their workers the resources they need, understanding that different workers have different needs and expectations. Those supervisors also must be immediately available to address workers’ concerns.

“A good supervisor has to have some empathy, and the resources to do something about it. I have to connect you with other parts of the organization to help you do your job,” Davenport says.

For that to happen, senior management must allow immediate supervisors sufficient time and support to create the effective work environment. That means acknowledging that the supervisor’s productivity might suffer as he or she concentrates on improving the environment for the people they lead.

In other words, don’t pile it on!

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2 comments on "Why People are Not Your Greatest Asset"


R Daniel King (9/29/2011 at 9:04 AM)
I disagree with Davenport that today's worker is "better educated, more sophisticated, and more demanding of their work experience." How are the products of a K-12 public educational system that [INVALID]ped from first in the World in 1960 to 24th today and [INVALID]ping "better educated?" It may apply for less than 10% of these graduates but the remaining will need extensive education and constant management to address their lack of education, self-esteem, and work ethic. If Davenport defines "sophisticated" as being exposed to more countries, states, cities, commercial events, sex, immorality, violence, selfishness, cheating, lying, dysfunctional families, entitlements, and the soft discrimination of lower expectations then I agree. But, collectively these are major challenges of the management level Davenport references that need to "manage the environment." If Davenport defines "demanding of their work experience" as a sense they are entitled to work on their on schedule, at their own pace, in their own manner be damn for outcomes, quality, efficiency or impact on other individuals and departments then I agree. Davenport is right on achieving the right environment but it is only achieved through effectively managing an increasing dysfunctional, morally challenged, pseudo-educated workforce. What Davenport has not recognized is there are two contrasting environments that impact organizational culture: accountable and political. The contrast between the two is an accountable environment is where individuals utilize political skills to achieve universal accountability starting with senior leadership. Whereas, in a political environment individuals utilize political skills to avoid accountability for the politically protected and deflect it to the politically isolated. Government, Wall Street, education and health care are all posted boards for the decaying impact of a predominantly political environment.

svbellistri (9/28/2011 at 9:07 AM)
Much of what the artical states has some bearing in the healthcare environment. My thought is that there has been an evolution in management direction and staff motivation. Executives and managers need to realize that one style does not fit all. Our employees are our experts and they can be the solution and the advancment needed in healthcare to obtain better outcomes.