Great communication plays a vital role in solving almost every problem in the workplace. How well leaders communicate has everything to do with how well employees engage in their work, how they take feedback, and whether or not they feel a sense of meaning and purpose. This type of communication is incredibly hard. It doesn’t come naturally to most.
Acceptance to medical school is the first step in a long journey for physicians. As the odyssey unfolds, classes and patient interactions reinforce the joy of medicine and with this comes the realization that a life-long pursuit of clinical excellence is a given, not an option.
Have you ever noticed that when things don’t go well, there’s always a meeting afterward? It’s typical for companies to do a deep dive, analyzing step by step what went wrong and how to fix it. We spend a lot of time, energy, and heartache focusing on what goes wrong.
There is nothing wrong with this: troubleshooting problems, creating solutions, and infusing them into your processes and procedures is critical to helping your business get better and better. However, it’s only one side of the story.
We are often hesitant to admit we don’t know something. Rather than saying, “I don’t know,” we often give an answer thinking the boss will think less of us if we don’t know. That fear forces answers that sometimes need more thought or research. The reality is that saying, “I don’t know,” or I need a little time to think it through will make your boss and colleagues respect you even more.
The ever-changing healthcare environment has presented a unique opportunity for physicians to expand their leadership outside of traditional medicine. This new landscape presents an opportunity for physicians to work in other areas within their field, such as finance, continuous improvement, strategy, operations, and so on. In this new world order, physicians seek new career avenues without losing the skills they have built thus far in their careers. However, the academic career pathway is very traditional as you look at the promotion process, and performance management hasn’t necessarily evolved to embrace this complexity.
Working virtually really is a different kind of challenge for most of us. Under these circumstances, as a leader you aren’t able to directly manage employees. Likewise, employees don’t have direct access to you. This can be frustrating for all involved.
Today, I was talking to a colleague of mine, Sue Kiernan. She is an executive coach who is thinking about what she can do at this time of crisis for the health system. She recognizes the pressures clinicians are normally under, and she sees how the current situation can contribute to even more stress. We talked about the concept of volunteering “In the Moment Coaching.” This is coaching for physicians and other healthcare professionals who think they might benefit from a 30-minute conversation with a professional coach. One short phone call is not going to change the world, but at the very least, the call provides a brief opportunity to focus clinicians on their well-being rather than just on the problems they are seeing and dealing with all day. There is no long-term contract and no fee for these coaching discussions. She envisions this as her way of contributing.
Recent surveys indicate that only 15% to 30% of physicians are extremely happy in their current practice and are not considering other opportunities.1,2 This leaves 70% to 85% of physicians with some level of dissatisfaction and even considering other options. This statistic should make you quite uncomfortable.
So many of us work in complex political environments where we do not want to offend anyone or overstep our authority. When we disagree with someone, it can feel presumptuous to tell someone he or she is wrong. This is particularly true if the person is in a position of greater authority. Are we really sure they are wrong? Perhaps, does the other person know something we don’t?