Someone, or some group of people at each established institution, created the mission and vision—not the institution itself, and Dr. Dwyer cautions against the naiveté of believing that each and every employee personally subscribes to the exact mission and vision of their department, institution, or practice. “We’re not all here for the same reason; we don’t all believe in the same thing, and that is okay,” he explains.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2008
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When you come to understand that each of your employees has entered healthcare—and your department, institution, or practice—for different personal and professional reasons, you will be able to tap into their values and get them to tap into, and go along with, your plans.
A true merging of an employee’s values with a supervisor’s plans does not happen overnight. It is a process of creating buy-in and loyalty that allows a physician leader to build an environment where all team members are working toward the good of the entire organization, rather than the good of themselves.
It is safe to assume that giving employees a sheet of paper with the mission and vision of your practice, institution, or department doesn’t automatically guarantee buy-in and loyalty. Creating this comes directly from the top down, and viewing—and treating—employees as assets, rather than costs, will build a firm foundation for this.
In his 1998 Harvard Business Review article, “Covert Leadership: Notes,” Henry Mintzberg writes, “Leaders energize people by treating them not as detachable ‘human resources’ (probably the most offensive term ever coined in management) but as respected members of a cohesive social system.”
Edward J. O’Connor, PhD, professor of management at the University of Colorado in Denver, and featured speaker at the American College of Physician Executives’ annual Spring Institute, notes that to be a successful physician leader, “You want to attract, motivate, and keep knowledgeable employees and give them something they want to do.”
This thought touches on one of the basic principles of management: Give me something important to do, make it personal by attaching it to my values, coach me along the way, trust that I will do it—and I will. Doing this is an ongoing process within each organization, but it can be done.
The following are a few basic ideas to help you begin to create buy-in among your current employees.
- Provide meaningful work: Odds are, your employees were initially attracted to their jobs because they want to help people. Tap into this value by giving your employees projects and responsibilities that will remind them of the patients they desire to help.
- Provide challenging work: No one wants to be bored on the job. When an employee’s days become too routine and unthinking, he or she may start looking into other options. By providing projects that will feed your employees’ minds and energy, you are literally feeding their careers—and no one will leave a table with plenty of food on it.
- Provide flexibility, and respect my personal life: Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing—even when you love your job. It is important to view your employees as people with personal lives, as well as assets to your organization. Giving them time to handle their personal business will ultimately help your business.
These ideas tap directly into the professional values of your employees and will help you as you start to create buy-in and loyalty, but they are just the beginning.