Monday, January 27, 2014

I'm (Still) #HealthcareHR!

One of my posts  from last Fall drew a wide range of reactions. My basic premise was that as I scanned the #HealthcareHR landscape, I didn't see a whole lot of inspiring work being done. A key focus area in the post was social media, but certainly there is a much longer list of important work that needs to be accomplished in addition to getting out of the age of the dinosaurs and getting contemporary with social tools. 

Sharing Is Leading

As it turns out, and not to anyone's surprise, there is great work being done in #HealthcareHR; unfortunately very few people know it. Maybe the competitive nature of the health care industry still has many of us hiding our good work for fear of it "getting out."

Oh no! What if another hospital takes our ideas? What if someone else adds value to their organization? What if we actually improve how human resources work is done as an industry?

If the current landscape is any indication, we are in no danger of that happening.

It's Not Our Fault, Really

I've discovered the secret to why so many #HealthcareHR leaders are nervous to...well...lead beyond the comfort of their offices.

Consider the cultures of most health care organizations. Local leaders want to avoid negative publicity, so they hire other risk averse leaders. Those leaders perfectly execute low/no risk strategies that ensure nothing will be shared, posted, or contributed as thought leadership.

Sure, there are a few brave souls out there that are driving change in their organizations, but sadly they continue to be few and far between. Thank goodness my organization is not that way! 

How About You

How do you think about your role as a #HealthcareHR leader? Were you brought in to make sure nothing ever changed? Or, is there an opportunity for you to do think it big...and make a real difference as a leader?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Make It Safe for Conflict

"Words without action is a colossal failure of leadership."
- Jay Kuhns, 2014 

Finally, a quote for the ages! Or, at least for this blog.

The longer I work in leadership the more I realize that simply saying words, even the most powerful ones, simply lose their impact without follow through. At no time is that more important that discussing the critical role that conflict plays in the world of work.

Trust First
One of the burdens of leadership is to create trust among the members you lead. Meghann Biro's article in Forbes describes key leadership behaviors that help us achieve that trust. We've all learned, some quickly and others not so quickly, that we can not do it all. We must surround ourselves with bright minds that add value to the work we are responsible for producing.

We've also learned that when you have more than one person working on an issue, conflict is sure to arise. That's a good thing! Conflict is what pushes our thinking...expands our point of view...creates energy...and gets even better results than what the original idea might have done.

Unless the leader completely messes it up, and conflict crashes down on the team like an anvil from Road Runner.

You're the Leader for a Reason
Introducing conflict as a positive tool to move ideas forward and achieve breakthrough results may not be a new concept; but it is a new practice. The stigma associated with conflict is often negative and is considered something that "should be dealt with."

Wait a minute! Have we actually programmed our leaders to think that challenging ideas is a bad thing? Obviously crossing the line to rude or inappropriate behavior is not what I'm advocating; however, creating an environment where leaders and employees can challenge each others perspectives is not only healthy, it should be required.

That's right. It should be a requirement that in order to be considered an effective leader you must create a culture that embraces positive conflict as a strategy.

How About You
What is the culture in your workplace? Do your team members, colleagues, and organization embrace conflict strategically? Or, is that simply a behavioral issue that HR needs to take care of?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hire Your Weakness

I enjoy spending time with people who have similar interests as me. Whether it's business, sports, staying fit, or just being with an interesting person who is outgoing and engaging, I know we'll hit it off. If you happen to work in #HealthcareHR and you love hockey we will undoubtedly be friends for life.

I'm not kidding. For life!

Egos, Threats, and Teams
There is a big problem with focusing on people who are similar to me when it comes to building my team though. If I allow my ego to dictate that I have to be the smartest person on the team (read here --> we're doomed); and if I'm so threatened by someone who might be able to add something that I cannot to our work (read here --> we're doomed again); then I need to shut off my computer and call it a day.

Leadership isn't about knowing everything, or worse yet, putting pressure on yourself to perform as if you did have an answer for every challenge. That doesn't make any sense. 

Yet time and time again as leaders climb the corporate ladder they somehow convince themselves that because of their success they must know it all. Otherwise how would they have achieved such status to begin with?

I'd say that is just about the craziest thing I've ever heard.

It's Called Leadership...Not Me-ship
Why is it that so many successful leaders fall into the trap of believing they have it all figured out? Self-esteem? Pressure to perform? Insecurities that they feel would hurt their careers if they ever surfaced?

Yes, yes, and yes. However, showing your human side to your team not only makes you more real, but allows them to feel empowered to contribute, add value, and make the work you are ultimately responsible for that much better.

Now why in the world wouldn't we all show the human side of ourselves? We are in human resources, right? It's in our job title!

How About You
The next time you have a vacancy on your team, instead of defaulting to the normal process of evaluating the position, take a look at where you are weakest and make that skill set the number one priority for the search process. Does that sound scary, liberating or maybe a little bit of both?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Alignment Guarantees A Win

The world seems to be moving faster than ever. Changing environments continue to put enormous pressure on us to perform as both individuals and organizations. Sustaining high quality performance is not a given however simply because we have recruited a team of all-stars. In fact, a team of all-stars is only part of the story. 

In today's world of work, we need alignment if we are truly going to succeed.

Individual Leaders First
Consider what is expected of you in 2014. Is there an expectation that you as a member of the leadership team will be able to effectively manage the following issues:
-strategic plan implementation
-effective communication
-conflict (with peers and other team members)
-professional goals
-serve as a brand ambassador
-and the list goes on...

How exactly are you going to effectively work through these challenges, sometimes all of them hitting on the same day?

Communication Drives Alignment
Saying that alignment is important and achieving alignment are two very different things. From my perspective the essential piece that often eludes even the most effective organizations is communication. I'm not talking about a "campaign" or a "series of messages that are on point." No, I'm talking about leadership being together, talking, challenging each other, respecting each person's point of view, and then finding consensus on what alignment really means.

Without the meaningful investment of time to really work together as a team, true alignment will never be realized. The leader who can bring the team together, allow for productive conflict, and still coalesce that energy into alignment is a rare find in today's world.

How About You
Do you contribute to the leadership culture in your organization to ensure alignment is a top priority? Or, is your silo so full of your "stuff" that you're hoping the others let you stay in your busy, albeit unfocused, world?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Getting to Important

Recently I've been reading, learning, and thinking about teams and how they get their work done. I work in a complex healthcare organization that has many priorities, requirements (both legal and regulatory) and pressures to meet the steady flow of financial, talent management, operational and communication challenges. It is inherent in the industry. To top it all off, we care for some of the most fragile patients imaginable.

I've often joked over the years that working in a health system is like having a stove with only front burners stretching far to the left and far to the right. Everything is a priority! Everything is urgent! The work is SO important, that nothing can be considered a "back-burner" issue for fear of offending someone.


It is important to distinguish between issues that come up each day that require attention versus maintaining organizational focus on what is truly important. I'm not sure anyone is good at that yet.

Do you know what the most important priority is for your organization? I'm guessing it has little to do with the fire that needs to be put out in "department X" or the suddenly frantic cries about vacancies and the talent pipeline. Am I right?

Instead, I'm guessing you don't know the answer. How could you? If it hasn't been clarified, discussed, and some measure of consensus brought to bear (not necessarily unanimous agreement!) you would have no idea.

How About You 
What are you going to do to ensure your organization can separate "urgent" from "important?" Is it your role to push this issue? Well...are you in leadership? If so, then yes! If not...then yes again! Driving accountability to make our institutions more effective is viewed as a positive regardless of job title. So I'll ask again...what are you going to do? 

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Progress Trumps Resolutions

So the new year is upon us...lame resolutions have been proclaimed...and right on schedule are now broken and discarded. I'm not a big fan of annual declarations of how we're going to transform our lives from our wish list to reality. I am a big fan however, of making progress.

What is happening in your world right now...personally...professionally? What needs to get done this year? If you had to prioritize the most important projects at work, what would they be? Take a moment and think about them. What are they? When do they need to be accomplished? What are the consequences of not getting them done?

You can document them here.

What about at home? What needs to get done this year? Are you as fit as you would like to be? Do you have any major decisions that are overdue and need to be addressed in 2014? Open up that same app and document those items too.

Once you know what needs to get done versus your fantasy wish list that evaporates by January 7th, you can start taking action. Remember, the key is that you make progress, not that you accomplish everything on your list by the end of January.

If your work has become more and more complex, then perhaps getting organized will be a huge step forward this year. Not only will that help you feel more in control, but you will be amazed at how productive you will be. 

If you are not as healthy or fit as you need to be, then follow the same strategy. Get organized, do some research, check out the #hrfitcrew hashtag and start on a path that helps you make progress. 

Patience is required. Commitment is required. Putting pressure on yourself to look like Shaun T or Jillian Michaels is not.

How About You
How are you going to make progress this year? Are you going to re-frame success as a series of positive steps forward; or, is it still an all-or-nothing-guaranteed-to-fail-option in the first week of the year? I'm big into this issue, so if you'd ever like to strategize a bit let me know.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

It Matters Differently

I like to think of myself as an open minded leader who is able to appreciate the various points of view around me. In fact, I have convinced myself that this perspective is a strength for me; something I can rely on when others get too caught up in their own "stuff."

That also strikes me as a fairly dangerous assumption.

Finding Focus
Leaders are hired to bring their experience, energy, vision, and ability to execute strategy to their new organizations. It seems that in making that hire, current leadership is deferring some of their future direction to the lens, or bias, of that new leader. 

Could that be true? What about the other leaders who are already on the team, or those who will join the company in the future? How will all of these lenses coalesce into a common focus?

Recognizing Bias
One of the greatest challenges of any organization just might be the culture of the management team. Is there trust? Can they rely on each other when roadblocks get in the way? How do they communicate as a group? Are there smaller factions that find it necessary to stay connected because the larger group is not functioning as it should?

These are difficult questions to answer.

How About You
Seeing through personal or professional agendas, maneuvering outside of the normal communication flow, and accepting that we have our own biases in the workplace can be a challenging gauntlet to run. How do you see your world at work? 

Do you appreciate the other points of view, expertise, and experience of the leaders around you; or, have you convinced yourself that you have it all figured out and the others should simply be quiet and let you lead?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.