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Employees Before Patients: Heresy? Or Management Gold?

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, November 9, 2012

Instead, healthcare has historically operated as a command-and-control environment, they both argue. Instead, leaders should adopt a philosophy of "trust and track," as Spiegelman says, which frees up leadership teams and those working in their area to improve care from the bottom up.

Berrett says the constant focus on the patient's well being, ironically, can lead to harm if the culture can't back up that focus.

"Too often we, as healthcare providers, are so focused on the patient, that we forget to take care of ourselves," says Berrett. "That can lead to burnout, bullying, and disharmony. It's pervasive. You can do that for awhile, but eventually people become disenchanted."

Moving from what Spiegelman and Berrett call transactional leadership to transformative leadership requires leaders to focus on the "why" of the new initiatives they're pursuing. These are diametrically opposed, incentive-wise, from what the rank and file, and even clinical leaders in the organization, are used to.

That includes explaining that the moves are for the greater good, not necessarily because doing so will pad the hospital or health system's financial coffers.

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2 comments on "Employees Before Patients: Heresy? Or Management Gold?"


Deb (11/16/2012 at 4:27 PM)
Human beings can't give what they don't have. This is very simply why patient experience must start with employee's well-being – on all levels. In a 2010 research study, when asked what supports and creates a healing experience for staff, medical professionals in a range of positions all said "caring for self." Upon further inquiry, this wasn't simply eat right, exercise and (even with hospital shift hours) sleep. Self-caring includes interactions with others, clinical and business processes and even the business model that actually support well-being. Research revealed qualities or attributes of what this. Equipped with such qualities, every person, whether the engineer keeping the temperature just right, or the night nurse, or the CFO, can make decisions moment-to-moment, adjust behaviors, processes, and emotional qualities to embody self-caring. For example, one attribute is connection. Respondents said this includes peer to peer connection; staff and patient connection; and spiritual connection. In what ways does your organization embody each of those for each staff person to have that as their daily experience? Research Study Executive Summary: http://experienceinmotion.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Executive-Summary-5-Dimensions-of-Self-Caring.pdf Research report available: http://experienceinmotion.net/staff-experience/

Mary K Parker (11/10/2012 at 7:47 PM)
The workers in the trenches often have better ideas about how to get the organization where it needs to be. The senior leadership has a better idea of the regulatory pressures the organization faces. Unfortunately, there's usually a huge chasm between the trenches and the towers, and very little communication happens in either direction. This book title is true. If the senior leadership looks after its workers and removes the obstacles and barriers to getting the job done, miracles can happen.