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Fresh, usable ideas to help your team think differently about patient and team engagement
when to sleep on it

Emotionally intelligent leaders know when the right response is to sleep on it

Transformative leaders who make exciting, innovative things happen in their companies usually possess a higher sense of urgency than their colleagues. They have a bias for action over indecision that others admire. But to be successful over the long-term, these same great leaders also know when to suppress that sense of urgency. Their emotionally intelligent side tells them their best reaction sometimes is to sleep on it. Especially when it comes to people-centric leadership skills and practices, effective bosses understand that knee-jerk reactions are seldom productive. Even worse than being ineffective, they can leave lingering scars that affect an employee’s sense of engagement, commitment, and drive to improve.  Philosophically, that may make perfect sense. But the challenge for leaders is that knee-jerk reactions are emotional,

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Great leaders deliberately decide to work on becoming a great leader

“You’re not a very strong leader.” I still remember that feedback from one of my first bosses soon after I was “rewarded” with supervisory responsibilities. I was promoted because I was a hard-working, strong individual performer. But I was 23 years old and didn’t know what I didn’t know. My immediate thought and gut reaction: “What the hell do you mean that I’m not a very good leader?!” It was several years – and many more life experiences – later that I finally began to understand the gift my boss had given me. Leadership was something I needed to work on. “Leadership is a process of self-development,” Linda Hill, a Harvard Business School professor and leadership guru commented in a recent HBR article. “You need

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The power in purpose: how healthcare can more effectively engage Gen Z

From frontline workers to senior executives, ask anyone in healthcare what common challenges they are experiencing, and you are sure to hear frustrations about the “new generation of employees.”  Leaders who just made sense of Millennials are now trying to figure out how to engage Gen Z, and pre-existing negative stereotypes of this cohort have become further entrenched as TikTok videos and the concept of “quiet quitting” began making the rounds. Despite their notorious reputation, Gen Zers are actually highly practical and recognize the importance of hard work. Dr. Jean Twenge’s extensive research on generations reveals that they are more likely than the previous generation to say that work will be a central part of their lives.1 So, how can healthcare leaders engage Gen Z’s

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5 ways to keep workgroup goal performance on track

How often do organizations develop and share annual goals at the start of a new year, then barely talk with work teams about them until 12 months later when posting results. Is it any wonder teams often miss the target when we don’t consistently track goal performance? Successful leaders help teams stay focused on achieving critical operational, financial, and quality goals every day. Monitoring, sharing, and discussing progress throughout the year are all essential practices to make that happen. That’s why the “T” in our Smarter S.M.A.R.T. goals model stands for tracked. Following are five key ideas for effectively tracking goals performance in ways that engage staff and improve results. Go beyond simply posting results To be meaningful and influence team priorities, updated reports from

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Are action plans after engagement surveys just an illusion of progress?

Exasperated by current staffing and financial challenges, a friend who is a top executive at a major health system seemed uncharacteristically discouraged in a recent conversation. He admitted that their employee engagement, retention, and morale were at all-time lows. He also reluctantly confessed that he didn’t see a clear path out of the current morass.  Looking for a bright spot, he quickly shared, “But managers are doing action plans with employee engagement strategies right now to try to turn things around.”  Since we were both being open and candid with one another, I asked, “Have you really found those action plans to be effective?”  Without hesitation, he admitted, “No, you’re right. We usually check off the box that they’re done, then they go on the

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Why BHAGs without BHARs are pipe dreams that can demoralize staff

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” That quote from President John F. Kennedy’s speech to a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, is perhaps the most often cited example of the philosophy that when you set stretch goals, amazing things can happen. And who doesn’t want to accomplish amazing things. So, the fact that the “R” in our smarter S.M.A.R.T. goals model stands for “realistic” may be surprising. Realistic sounds so safe … run-of-the-mill … even boring. Don’t we want bigger, inspiring, stretch goals? Maybe even “B.H.A.G.s”? Even if you haven’t read the best-selling business book Built to

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how to help teams achieve their goals

Yours, mine, or ours? Whose goal is it anyway?

Ask any leader how to help teams achieve their goals, and they are likely to mention factors related to specificity, measurability, and achievability.  While all of these factors are important, a well-crafted goal can still fail if the team is not unified in their determination to successfully achieve it together. If leaders want to help teams achieve their goals, they involve them in how the goal is developed. That’s why the “A” in our smarter S.M.A.R.T. goal model stands for “agreed-upon.”  In the first two installments of this series on our adapted S.M.A.R.T. goal model, we focused on the importance of specificity (being clear about what we’re working to improve) and meaning (emphasizing why the goal is worth achieving).  With that foundation in place, the

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employee well-being

Employee well-being: substance or slogan?

As stress, depression and anxiety have surged in the workplace in recent years, especially among Millennials and Gen Zers, “employee well-being” has become a popular organizational catchphrase. But despite this increased awareness and focus, employee well-being numbers continue to trend in the wrong direction. According to a Gallup study, poor mental health costs the US economy almost $48 billion annually in lost productivity. So, what is going wrong? Are organizations making investments into well-being that simply are not working, or as the phrase goes, is there just a lot of noise and not enough music? The answer is somewhere in the middle. The Role of Middle Managers in Boosting Employee Well-Being Many organizations have increased efforts to foster employee well-being — and their employees have

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Organizational purpose - nurse comforting a patient in her home

How leaning into “why” helps staff better embrace and support team goals

This article is the third in a series unpacking the S.M.A.R.T. goals model, in which we adapt the acronym to focus on achieving better outcomes, not just writing better goals. This article dives into redefining the ‘M’ from “measurable” to “meaningful”, emphasizing the “why” and higher organizational purpose behind our goals. “Please help me connect the dots!” In our work with frontline health care staff, this plea is one of the most common ones we hear. With new protocols, payer requirements, and regulations shifting constantly, staff understandably struggle to make sense of all of these changes. That’s why setting goals is just step one. Linking them to organizational purpose and exploring them in ways that are meaningful to your team is essential to have a

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making remote work for employees and employers

Balancing flexibility and inclusion: 5 ways to make WFH work better for everyone

Is working from home (WFH) a wonderful thing for workers and companies, or a necessary accommodation during the pandemic that needs to go away? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle as we better understand the limitations of working from home and its long-term impact on the workforce. In our work with frontline leaders and staff, we’re seeing three major realities emerge: Managers with remote employees have to work differently – and often harder – to keep them meaningfully connected to the company and their colleagues. Organizations should be asking themselves whether they are giving these leaders the training, support, and resources (including time) that they need to retain staff and successfully meet operational, quality, and service goals. Remote work is tougher for new

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