By Dan Collard, TeamHealth Executive Vice President and Chief Growth Officer
On one of my recent flights, all of the passengers were treated to one of the prettiest sunsets I can remember. As I was snapping photos through the plane window, I recalled another picture I had taken recently, one of those right time and right place occasions, of a sunrise.
I later put the two photos side by side for comparison and thought of the similarities and differences captured in each moment. Similarities: the same colors and the same iPhone took them. What was different? My first reaction was likely driven by the season, the time of year and ultimately, by the constant challenge to those of us in healthcare: preparing for and succeeding in the future.
The sunset said “so long” to another day, another year and an entire decade. It was a contemplative view, one into which many of us slide as we take stock of a year marked by successes, failures, achievements and disappointments; the sum total of the last twelve months.
The sunrise said “hello” to the new day, new year, new decade and most importantly, new opportunities. The start of something new brings with it the opportunity for growth, success and learnings.
The final contrast between the two photos was the difference in how we use words to find others’ motivations. How many times have you asked a colleague, a client or a potential business partner, “What keeps you up at night?” The “up at night” question, asked so often in early “tell-me” conversations, has been used to the point of cliché. While falling victim to cliché and current buzzwords is likely pervasive in most industries, healthcare leaders seem to have a healthy reliance on these kinds of phrases, perhaps in an effort to sound contemporary or perhaps in an effort to sound knowledgeable, I’m not sure which. It would seem we could find a better motivational question when advancing efforts to improve an industry on which so many lives rely.
In place of the overly utilized “up at night” question, wouldn’t it make more sense to ask, “What gets you up in the morning?” Tapping into someone’s motivation relative to energy and execution will quickly tell the questioner much more about their focus and direction. While there’s much to cause sleepless nights for a healthcare executive, there are equal reasons for optimism.
Which brings us to 2020. Plenty of organizations have been using planning strategies with names like “Vision 2020” and “Ambition 2020,” and now we’re here.
Time to ask the right questions:
Does our organization have the right goals?
Are those goals tightly aligned to our strategic priorities?
Do they take into account the headwinds we might face in our sector?
Most importantly, are we equipping our leaders with the skills, tools and knowledge to achieve those goals?
It might be a good time to use the “What gets you up in the morning?” question to take the pulse of both our individual and collective alignment and energy toward those goals. With what seems to be an automatically renewed level of energy following the holidays, there’s no better time than now to ask ourselves the essential question: Are we getting up in the morning with focus and energy such that our efforts and time are optimized?
To be clear, the “up in the morning” question isn’t just for executive leaders. Frontline leaders could learn much from their teams in the trenches by asking this question. Their answers might reveal if the first days of their workweek are as anticipated as the last. Do they look forward to starting their shifts as much as they look forward to ending them? The answers likely have a strong correlation to how we as leaders lead:
Do we create a work environment where getting up in the morning is energizing or full of dread? (Of course, with sensitivity to all night shift workers – just transpose the times of day!)
Do we share our personal goals and ask our teams for help in achieving them?
Do we do our best to find out what demotivates our team versus always looking for the next way to motivate?
When we identify what demotivates and work hard to reduce or eliminate those elements, we foster a culture that makes the most of opportunities provided in this new day, new year and new decade. As a strong healthcare partner, we are dedicated to embedding this culture within our daily practices, knowing our greatest opportunities begin with our clinicians and the patients entrusted to our care.
Welcome to 2020! What gets YOU up in the morning?