Monday, December 31, 2012

Cliffs, Difference, and Power

Today is New Year's Eve, and in the United States we're making plans for the big event. People are reaching out to one another, there's lots of conversation, and we're generally waiting with anticipation to see what 2013 will bring.

Sadly, the buzz has nothing to do with celebrating a new year, but instead has us caught up in the never ending melodrama that comes from Washington, D.C., this time focusing on the proverbial fiscal cliff.

The Real Story
It shouldn't come as a surprise to any of us in leadership (or any other part of life) that elected officials struggle mightily to get along. For years we are programmed to believe in ourselves, have confidence, stand up for what we believe in...etc...and then we become professionals and are expected to compromise, see the big picture, and do what's best for everyone.

That seems to me like a fairly sudden change of course.

So if we're raised to have a certain set of beliefs, yet the reality is that we can not get our own way all of the time, and must learn to compromise in order to be successful, why is it that we still struggle as leaders?

Accepting Difference
I believe that this private struggle that has a very public impact is all about difference. Overcoming the natural tendency to want our ideas to win out; or to push an idea forward simply because we don't want to be perceived as looking bad are not realistic strategies, nor quite honestly have they ever been. The workplace needs to embrace the different perspectives, ideas, experiences, and cultures that make our organizations unique.

Yes, some ideas are worth pursuing and others are not going to work. But until we stop talking and start listening to each other, it is unlikely that anything productive will get accomplished. You have the power to change the way differences are handled in your organization. You also have the power to reinforce the status quo through your inaction.

How About You
When was the last time you had to force yourself to stop and hear what a colleague was saying? What if their idea was something you were strongly opposed to...were you able to hear what they were saying instead of preparing your response while they were still talking? The power of difference...give it a try.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Friday, December 28, 2012

Be More...I'm Talking to Myself

I've come to realize two important things over the last year. The first is that I enjoy blogging much more than I ever thought I would. The ability to engage with people from around the world, to challenge conventional thought, and to hold myself, and you, accountable on the most public of platforms can be very powerful.

The second is that I feel a need to have NoExcusesHR be more. As many of you know, I am a long time healthcare human resources professional. When I survey the healthcare HR landscape I simply do not see enough (or any) voices pushing the issues from an industry that dominates state and federal budgets, creates political grid-lock in Washington, and took over the Supreme Court for an unprecedented three days of debate.

It's time for NoExcusesHR, and me, to be more.

What Does That Mean
2013 is going to look and feel a bit different. Yes, leadership is a passion of mine, and will continue to be a regular topic here. My #HealthcareHR series will continue as well in an attempt to fill a gaping HR leadership hole in my industry. Overall my posts may be less frequent as I try to elevate my game, but the same level of energy and accountability will remain.

I'm also looking forward to speaking more as the appropriate opportunities arise. I almost feel an obligation to discuss HR's role both as leaders inside our organizations, as well as what HR is doing (or should be doing) to stay current in the healthcare industry. That is going to be fun...and loud!

It Might Get Ugly
I can't guarantee that my writing will be any better. Nor can I promise that my presentations will be inspiring every time. But what I can speak confidently about is that as I juggle new projects at work, dive into this blog as well as the PerformanceICreate project, and stand up in front of an unsuspecting audience somewhere, I will bring the energy, and yes passion, for what I'm doing each and every time.

How About You
Beyond the corny resolutions and personal goals list for the coming year, what is it that you are seriously building into your life for 2013. Are you as fired up as I am? If not, throw out your list and start over. This stuff is simply too important to take lightly.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Pic from the Keynote at the 2012 Healthcare Internet Conference

Thursday, December 20, 2012

You v. Excuses

Now is not the time for reflection...or quiet...or slowing things down only to fall behind even more. Now is the time to do something.

What are you going to do?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Employee Communication - #HealthcareHR

"I just wish we had better communication around here."

"They never tell us what is really going on."

"My Manager didn't even tell us about that change. Can you believe it?"

"The night shift is always the last group to know anything."

Communication:   Conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing or behavior.

What? Signals and thoughts? Now we're supposed to be mind-readers too?

Perhaps the most over-used term in the healthcare workplace* (source* = Me) is communication. Maybe it's because we have so many options for communicating these days? Maybe the challenges of running a 24/7 operation like a hospital or nursing home are simply too difficult to create a decent system to communicate with employees? Maybe life just moves too fast?

Or maybe those of us in healthcare love excuses and suck at communicating and don't have the guts to admit it.

Get over it, and get to work fixing it.

Step one - take some time and fully document the channels you are actively using today. What appears to be working, and what is a bust? Invest the time to understand exactly what channels are being used.  It's only through this first level of understanding that you can plan your course of action to maximize your communication opportunities.

Ever Ask Anyone?
Step two - now that you know what is currently in place, it's time to ask the employees which communication outlets they prefer. Since they are your target audience, it makes sense to ask them what they want, right? Do a quick survey of your team members and be open-minded to the results. Just because you believe your communication plan is best, it may not be anything close to what your employees want to see.

Get over it, and get to work giving them what they want.

How About You
Do you rely on outdated thinking  and a "memo to all staff" to connect with your employees? What about social platforms, what about e-bulletin boards, what about good old fashioned letters home, what about rounding during the night shift...which ones are best for your hospital? Healthcare organizations are complicated, and so too are the ways we need to communicate with our employees.

Which one is best? It's up to you to find out.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit  photo credit

Monday, December 17, 2012

Social Media and the HR Executive

A good corporate image is now more than ever absolutely essential. In the post-Enron era it seems the spin doctors are busier than ever managing just about every customer facing contact point imaginable. Quite honestly I think that is the right thing to do…from an official corporate perspective. But what about those leaders inside the company that might help balance the corporate spin with a voice that is a bit edgy or confrontational? Specifically, what should the Human Resources executive do in this situation?

Playing It Safe is Lame
The safe play is obviously to hide behind the press releases and stumble out of the office every night dizzy from so much “spin.” But somehow that doesn’t seem right to me. The Human Resources leader is supposed to balance the needs of the organization and the employees. Right? Those employees are bright, committed, and paying attention to everything that happens in the workplace. They don’t speak in press release language, or God forbid, ever use the word synergy on purpose. So who is going to keep the conversation “real” if the HR executive doesn’t?

No one, that’s who.

Social Risk or Social Reward
Enter social media into this mix. Five years ago I worried about the perception of company wide emails I had to release. Now I send several dozen messages per day to the universe via twitter, facebook, foursquare and Linkedin. That’s a huge change in a short period of time. While all of those messages are not specifically directed to employees, they all can certainly track them. Does that pose a risk for me? For my company? For Human Resources?

Yes, yes and yes.

But there is an upside that simply can not be ignored. It is so incredibly obvious, and I believe essential for the modern Human Resources executive that it must be incorporated into everyday life. Embracing social media specifically as a Human Resources leader does more than open up your own world (which it does to a degree that is impossible to accurately describe.)

It allows for one of the primary links between the employees and the company to be accessible, real…to be human. Does that create a huge opportunity for me? For my company? For Human Resources?

Yes, yes and yes.

How About You
Are you the Senior Human Resources leaders in your organization? Have you built social media into your work and personal life? I bet it was a bit intimidating at first. Everything new is intimidating. Get over it. Be the bridge that effective HR is supposed to be.

I’d love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit  photo credit

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pick 'Em Up, Put 'Em Down

I seem to be moving faster than ever lately. I love to be challenged in my work, and it has not disappointed me. In periods like this I wonder what I'm missing...who am I missing...what projects are falling behind? So many questions, pressures, and sometimes...mistakes.

I hate that. I just get so busy picking my feet up and putting them down faster and faster that my productivity can actually decrease.
Remember to Breathe
Although it is incredibly difficult for me to justify in my mind, I need to force myself to slow down during my most hectic times. Clearing my desk, maxing out my task list, and then taking each project one at a time with a clear mind is, for me, the quickest path to success.
Once I get my piles of work organized, I can often burn through the emails, tasks, and at least make a decent dent in my projects. Maybe this all sounds too simple, but I regularly see desks piled so high with paper, binders, and printouts of email that I wonder how some people get anything accomplished. I secretly smile to myself knowing that at least I don't have it as bad as they do.

How About You
Have you considered how your team members perceive you when they see the chaos spread far and wide across your workspace? Does it matter? Maybe you're one of those rare souls who claim they "know where everything is" amongst the old email and Leadership Magazines from May 2010. I'm just not that guy.  How do you manage the tidal wave of work roaring through your life?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Monday, December 10, 2012

First Time Guests

One of my favorite responsibilities is to address new staff members each month when they attend new employee orientation. I kick things off for the first hour and try to make it anything but normal. I yell, strut around the large conference room making jokes, using videos, a slide deck, and banter back and forth with one of our HR employees who goes along with my shenanigans as if we were a stand up comedy team.

I love it. I'm trying to impress all of those new people as a representative of my company. I feel pressure to send a positive message, because I know first impressions mean a lot. I want the employees to know that our senior leaders are not dull or boring or stodgy.

I want them to get fired up because new employees are just like first time guests.

Details Don't Matter...Yet
The advantage of early messaging to new employees is clear: no work routines yet, no daily grind mentality yet, no familiarity with the organization yet. Now is the time to connect in a meaningful way.

Attention HR leaders! Are you delegating this moment to someone else? Really? Let me guess, you're too busy with a turnover report? You might not have to complete that report if you engage with those anxious, excited, nervous, terrific new hires you just invested so much time and energy into bringing on board. Remember the fabled war for talent? Guess what? You won! You have talent in that room, now go get them pumped up about their decision to join your company!

How About You
How do welcome your first time guests? Do you take advantage of the opportunity and get them engaged right away? Do you help them believe in your organziation using emotion, stories, and for the love of God some energy! I hope so...because if they think they've made a mistake by joining your team, you'll be busier than ever working on that turnover report.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit
photo credit

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Center of the Universe

“Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.”
Take a moment and think about the issues that you've known about for some time but just haven't taken action on yet.
Whether those issues are blatant, subtle, intentional or not; would you perhaps identify some part, or someone, in your organization that should become the center of your workplace universe?
What are you going to do now?
I'd love to hear from you.
No Excuses.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Employee Ombudsman - #HealthcareHR

This is another post in the occasional series on healthcare and human resources (#HealthcareHR.) Today's post focuses on taking a bold step in order to create a pro-employee culture.

I find it interesting that in one of the most stressful industries, if not the most stressful, the role of employee ombudsman is not widely used in healthcare settings. In my organization we've been effectively using this role for more than three years with tremendous results.

What the Heck is An Employee Ombudsman
We define the role this way:

"Employee Ombudsman:  a non-management representative of the organization that is available to employees to talk through and process options about employee concerns." 

To say the implementation of this strategy has been anything short of a huge success would be an understatement. In an industry riddled with legal, regulatory, staffing, and third party pressure it is a no-brainer to hard wire support for your employees. One of the most effective ways to do that is to invest in the role of employee ombudsman.

But What Do They Do
The power of this role can not be underestimated. Making work hours flexible to meet the needs of all employees (healthcare is a 24/7 business); reinforcing that a requirement to follow the chain of command to report issues is an archaic strategy (what if the problem is with the chain of command!); and most importantly taking action when the data indicates action is required.

Key responsibilities of the role include:
- meeting with employees in a private, discreet setting
- tracking all issues
- serving as a resource to employees to assist with the resolution of work related issues whenever possible
- supporting employees through the formal grievance process
- conducting all exit interviews
- coordinating employee surveys and events

Results Tell The Story
Our employee ombudsman has helped drive the following actions: disciplinary actions being rescinded, annual evaluations being changed, merit increases being modified, and in some cases ineffective leaders being transitioned out of the organization. Plus we've also held people accountable when they thought they could deflect responsibility away from themselves.

I would say that's a pretty successful strategy, wouldn't you?

How About You
What are you doing in your organization to back up your messaging to employees that you support and care for them? Have you taken the steps necessary to prove it to them, such as using an employee ombudsman? If not, you're missing an opportunity to provide real leadership to a dedicated group of employees who deal with life and death issues everyday.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit

Monday, December 3, 2012

Please Stop, I'm Going to Hurl

"You have to manage your personal brand."

"How do you measure your influence?"

"You need to make an impact!"

"What is your career plan?"

"Which goals are you setting up for 2013?"

"Which new social networks are you active on?"

"Should I start a blog? On what? When should I post?"

"Who should I follow, friend, connect with, or add?"

Someone please make it stop...I think I'm going to be sick. Somehow the world of work seems to have morphed into a rat race against ourselves. No longer am I worried about setting myself apart from others, it now appears I'm supposed to set myself apart from...well..myself.  

So Many Messages
In the digital age we now have a non-stop stream of advice, expert opinion, and misguided messaging that has left many of us confused. There was a time when I could come to the office and focus on my work exclusively. At first glance that doesn't sound too bad, until one realizes that the entire world does not work where I do. Nor are the best and most creative ideas necessarily coming out of my organization. There is a richness that must be tapped into in order to help move my organization forward.

And there's the rub...which messages should I listen to, and which ones are just noise?

So Little Time
Not everyone is as comfortable jumping into multiple social channels, writing, taking risks at work, and generally feeding off the noise. (I admit I get a bit of a rush feeding off the noise.) For many others however I think the biggest barrier to manage the 24/7 onslaught of messages about the "right way" to go about one's work comes down to two simple points:

1 - Manage your business at the pace you are most comfortable long as you are moving forward.
2- There is no right or wrong way to answer the litany of questions at the opening of this post.

How About You
Have you been been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the constant barrage of experts telling you what to do? I have too. It's important to start adapting to the changing world of work, but make sure you listen to yourself first. After all, that's the only noise that matters.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

photo credit #1 photo credit #2