Imagine Two Healthcare Systems in California in 2014

Imagine two healthcare systems in California. Both face changes in health insurance and reimbursement. Both are concerned for market-share. Both consider 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 become less productive.

Alpha Healthcare addresses the conflicts directly, promptly, and transparently. Anne the CEO hires a facilitator to explore the viewpoints of both sides of the executive committee. The facilitator is expert in the tools and skills of technology of consciousness and so feels the underlying agreement and brings it 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 the disordered managerial teams, one, by one, 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.  By holding a neutral viewpoint, the facilitator gains their trust and employees openly vent fears, frustrations, and suggestions.  The facilitator inspires executives and managers to listen actively to the views of the employees. Some issues are resolved rapidly; the employees are willing to wait to have the remainder resolved.

Alpha Healthcare moves forward. The CEO and executives devote their 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 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. 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 (so Edna never addresses). Productivity falls.

Tom, Bill, Helen, and 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 http://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?