Motivation: The Missing Piece of Improvement

Motivation: The Missing Piece of Improvement

The Challenge

Patient engagement and satisfaction are an increasingly important performance metric in healthcare as reimbursement will eventually be tied to scores. Surveys are sent to both acute and ambulatory patients and for large organizations, the results are compiled and shared monthly by an outside company.

Despite the importance placed on this metric by the C-suite, like many organizational goals, not all workers see the value.

Recently, a conversation among one team grew a little uncomfortable as staff discussed their view of the efforts to improve patient satisfaction.

“We’re doing all we can. There are a million variables that I can’t control.”

“The survey question is worded wrong.”

“I am providing the best possible care. I can’t control if the patient is happy.”

“I am caring for 5-6 patients, and I don’t have time to work on this.”

If The Learner Hasn’t Learned….

Hearing these comments and questions from team members working on an improvement– no matter what it is – can be frustrating (‘why can’t they get on board?’) However, take pause if your first instinct is to convince your team of the importance of the goal in question. Get curious. Consider the key tenet of lean leadership is honoring and respecting staff provide value to your customer. Also note that if a team doesn’t believe in the goal, the chances of achieving it are greatly diminished.

If staff don’t understand and support the importance of patient engagement, consider this a leadership issue. Remember, if the learner hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.

While it may be tempting to ‘convince staff’ of the importance of the goal (‘Patient satisfaction is very important!), instead consider starting a conversation.

An Alternative

There is a methodology referred to as ‘catch-ball’ that offers an alternative. In this format, leaders ‘toss’ their ideas to the level below them. Staff or lower-level leaders return the ball with their own ideas. While catch-ball is another name for what essentially means talking with your direct reports, it is worth calling out specifically as it typically doesn’t happen naturally.

Healthcare executives, VPs, and directors often have hundreds of front-line staff and it isn’t uncommon for one manager to have 60-100 nurses reporting to him or her. So, catch-ball – as it relates to discussing/vetting/understanding organizational goals – is imperative. Note that catch-ball is a two-way street. It doesn’t mean just explaining the business imperative, but also discussing with the front-line staff. What do you think? How does this goal land for you? Do you believe in it? Do you think it’s possible? How can we frame this in a way that honors you and your work but also recognizes the importance of involving patients in our care?

Motivation: The Missing Piece

Healthcare leaders’ schedules are often filed with meetings and long lists of initiatives and priorities. There simply is not enough time in the day to do it all. However, if new goals are being set, time must be made to discuss these goals with managers and staff and to frame the goal in a way that creates motivation and excitement for change.

Motivation – and specifically internal motivation – is a key ingredient in lasting improvement. Only by working together and coming to consensus on a shared and challenging goal that also aligns with personal values can you harness the motivation of front-line staff that is necessary to achieve challenging goals.

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash


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