Imagine Two Healthcare Systems

Imagine two healthcare systems. Both face changes in health insurance and reimbursement. Both are concerned for market-share. Both are building new units. In both, these changes adversely stress nurses and other employees. In each, the executive committee is divided over what to do. In each several key managerial teams lose productivity.

Alpha Healthcare addresses the conflicts directly, promptly, with transparency. Anne the CEO hires a facilitator expert in the tools and skills of technology of consciousness to explore the viewpoints of both sides of the executive committee, to feel the underlying agreement, and to bring that unspoken agreement into the open. The two sides now understand each other’s viewpoint. They agree to disagree on some issues but to move forward for the good of the patients and the organization.

The facilitator sits in with each of the disordered managerial teams, gets their respect and trust, explores the reasons each team’s goals are important to each member of the team, and motivates them to inspire themselves to high performance.

The nurses and other staff are invited to meetings with the facilitator. The facilitator, holding a neutral viewpoint, gains their trust so employees vent fears, frustrations, and suggestions openly. With their permission, the facilitator takes the issues to senior executives and managers and inspires them to listen with respect to the views of employees. Some issues are resolved; the employees are willing to wait to have other issues resolved.

Alpha Healthcare moves forward. The CEO and executives devote time and attention to the critical issues of the future instead of the internal conflicts. Absenteeism from stress drops; people work productively; people who were disengaged become reengaged with Alpha’s goals.

At the other extreme, Epsilon Healthcare buries the conflicts. Edna, the CEO, puts motivational posters on all the walls. She urges her managers to get the most they can from every team: to work them, manipulate them, pit one person against the others by subtly playing favorites now with Betty, now with Sam.

The executive committee argues instead of functioning. Managerial teams meet but don’t produce. Absenteeism at Epsilon rises to more than 30%. Were an outsider to observe the staff at work, he would see “presenteeism”: people repeating work, daydreaming, and gathering at water coolers and copying machines to vent complaints no manager hears and Edna never addresses. Productivity falls to less than 20% of pre-Recession values.

Tom, Bill, Helen, many good employees became disengaged. They no longer care for the institution in which they once invested hope and eager work. Angry chides from managers upset them, stop their creativity, and make them indifferent, even antagonistic, to Epsilon’s goals.

Sid, Elizabeth, and Henry luck out. Their LinkedIn profiles were up to date, attractive, and private from Epsilon’s management. As each gets an opportunity to go elsewhere, anywhere else, each jumps ship.

Epsilon continues to fail.

So where is your Healthcare System on this spectrum? Alpha and Epsilon are extremes. Where are you?  Lawrence Hebberd of www.gravitatedesign.com (LinkedIn) and Gallup Polls’ State Of The American Workplace report that absenteeism from stress cost the US $30 billion last year, “presenteeism” – being at work but unproductive ‒ $200 billion, active disengagement about $500 billion. What are these problems costing you?