How Changing an Employee's Story Can Lead to Success
I am a firm believer that you can be taught a lesson multiple times, and each time it is taught to you, you take something different away from it. Why? Because the lesson you’re going to learn depends on the situations you’re facing at the time. This past week at the UCAOA Conference in Glendale, AZ, I was listening to Dr. Tim Reynolds give a talk on leadership. I have heard the talk before at the Medical Practice Success Summit. I have heard it before at our executive leadership trainings at HealthCARE Express. But on this particular day, I had a particular issue with one of my team members on my heart. As I listened to him talk, I realized that one of the mistakes I had made as a leader was that I’d allowed myself to get involved in the story of why things were not getting done, instead of helping my team member figure out the real problem as to why things were not getting done. While it is easy for me to give praise when things are going right in my department, I am always a little anxious to have the “hard talks” when balls are being dropped. As I went into my talk on Monday with this team member, I approached our meeting as a training opportunity. I used questions to allow my team member the option to come up with solutions for the future, instead of putting the individual in a situation where she felt as though an excuse or story was needed to justify the reasons things were not done. I realized that my problem in the past was I had accepted those stories instead of working through them. As we talked, we realized together there were two big problems standing in her way of success. First, she didn’t have a good organizational system in place. Second, she had started on our marketing team during a period of transition in our training program. She had heard at one point by her trainer that she was not allowed to come to me with problems. While this was never the intention of our team structure, I saw the problem instantly. She had spent the last quarter really struggling to manage all of the tasks a marketer on our team has to juggle, and she felt there was no where to turn for help. The takeaway I shared with her was the same takeaway I share with all of my marketing team members during our one-on-one talks. It is a takeaway that I learned many years ago from Dr. Reynolds, and it’s a motto we share across all departments at HealthCARE Express: “It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s never okay to be dishonest about them.” This includes making excuses about dropping balls and not asking for help when it’s needed. The one thing I try to stress to all those on my team is that I’m here to serve them, but I can’t help unless I know there is a problem. Ironically, the next day I received an email from another member of my team who had been training a new team member. The reason behind the email was he wanted me to know the person he’d been working with had spent too much time on her cell phone taking personal calls. He felt this was a problem. I picked up the phone and asked the trainer, “Is that the real problem?” At first, he was sure it was the real problem. As we talked, he realized the problem was that he didn’t like confrontation. Because of this, he had never asked the new team member to get off the phone. Instead, his story was, “This person is disrespectful of my time. I’m not sure they’re a good fit.” As we worked on changing his story about the problem, we were able to fix something and hopefully prevent it from happening again in the future. He soon realized the problem actually had nothing to do with the trainee. It had everything to do with him not being able to train her on the expectations that our marketing team doesn’t take personal phone calls. What about you? Are you allowing yourself to buy in to the stories and excuses your team members give? It’s really easy to do. But if you really want to help them grow as leaders in your company, and more importantly, help them solve problems, then you have to be able to identify when a story starts. I love Dr. Reynold’s philosophy. For every goal or task we have to accomplish he says, “Did you do it?” If I say “YES!” he’s happy. If I say, “No…” and begin to justify this with a story, he will stop me and say, “You see, there’s a small checkbox beside the word yes. There’s a small checkbox beside the word no. The box is small for a reason.” Keep your box small, and you won’t get caught up in the story!
Article By: Tina Bell Tina Bell is the Director of Marketing for HealthCARE Express®, where her responsibilities include spearheading the company’s social media and internet strategies, leading the in-house physician recruitment team, and developing aggressive programs to promote patient satisfaction and effective service recovery. Tina speaks nationally at industry conferences including the Medical Practice Association of America and the National Association of Occupational Health Professionals. She is the director of business development for Medical Practice Success and an independent Medical Practice marketing consultant.