Fat cutting from an organization can be taken too far – Are you starving your organization?

A maximum value strategy may involve cutting the fat from an organization, but a maximum economy strategy will cut the meat and bone. A maximum economy strategy has an excessive emphasis on cost-cutting so that it starves the organization of the resources it needs to sustain and thrive.

I will tell you the true story of the only hospital in a town of less than 100,000 people. I will not tell you the name of the hospital or the town to protect the innocent and the guilty. This hospital was sold to a national, for-profit hospital chain. Their emphasis was to pull out as much of the hospital’s gross income for corporate profits as possible. This left very little operating capital to run the hospital. They underpaid their doctors and treated them with contempt. They did not buy necessary equipment and supplies. Deferred maintenance on the building piled up. Many of the doctors moved away including surgeons who were very important to the hospital’s revenue. People in the community began driving to other towns to use the hospitals there. The average number of patients in the hospital each day fell from 75 to less than 10. They wanted it all and slowly they killed the goose that was laying the golden eggs. They wanted everything and ended up with a little bit higher percentage of much, much less.

They saw their market as static and limited. They saw increasing profit opportunities in decreasing their investments in people, operations and infrastructure. They took on a scarcity mindset. They starved the hospital of the resources it needed to thrive or even sustain itself. The hospital wasted away under this neglect and abuse.

Stephen Covey told a similar story in The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. A restaurant sold a delicious clam chowder that people lined up to buy. The restaurant was sold. The new owners were given all the recipes. They decided that they could make more money if they used cheaper ingredients. Over time people realized that the clam chowder was no longer as good. The lines got shorter and shorter. When the new owners realized their mistake, they tried to go back to the original recipe, but it was too late. The restaurant closed. They bought a maximum value organization and tried to convert it into a maximum economy organization. They shifted from abundance to scarcity and failed.

I am not saying that cost savings and efficiency are bad. If the restaurant owners were paying $3/pound for butter and found the same quality butter for $2/pound from a supplier who was just as reliable, that would be value neutral for the customers and value positive for the owners. But if they instead bought margarine for $1.50/pound, that would be value negative for the customers who are still paying the same price for a bowl of clam chowder. Now the question is, “How would buying cheaper margarine affect the value equation for the owners?” The new owners thought it would be value positive. They figured that they would pay less for margarine and get the same price for a bowl of clam chowder. But the customers stopped buying the clam chowder. The little bit extra profit they made buying cheaper ingredients was small compared to the income they lost from reduced sales. It was also value negative from the owners.

Here is an important take away. Be very careful about changes that you suppose will increase your value results while reducing the value results for your customers and other stakeholders. That is seeing your customers and important stakeholders as members of the opposing team instead of being on your team. And when they realize that you are not on their team, they will abandon you as soon as a viable alternative presents itself. Where the value equation really counts is in what you deliver to your customers and other important stakeholders.

A maximum economy strategy is a scarcity strategy. It is driven by pessimism and lacks vision. It is excessively focused on cost reduction without weighing the impact on quality. It will fail to deliver value (quality divided by cost) and will likely lead to weakness and failure.

Read previous articles related to this topic:

Article #1: Maximum Wow Strategies Lead to Scarcity

Article #2: Your business’ future lies in an abundant strategy – not in scarcity

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How to find 3-7% more Net Revenue at your Hospital

A recent survey of 146 CEOs by the Advisory Board (1), the CEOs voted that “sustainable cost control” was the number one priority. This is an imperative that every hospital in America must be doing in the current health care environment. Net revenue is tightening up. Smaller and smaller increases from government programs are the trend and health plans are taking the position that any new net revenue be tied to improving quality or costs. The routine annual increases are not routine anymore.

What CEOs should be focusing on is collecting all net revenue. What is the best that can be expected in net revenue collections from the revenue cycle area? Is it 90% of expected? 93%? 96%? What is preventing your organization from collecting closer to 100% of expected revenue?

We know that nothing ever happens at 100% in any field, endeavor or undertaking. Asking the question of “why not 100%” is the start of reviewing what is preventing your organization from improving on net collections. If your organization is at 91% net collections (including vendor fees, etc. from handing off old accounts), that’s pretty good. But can your organization get to 95%? Or 97%? Or 98%? What steps can be taken internally to earn an extra 3-7% of net revenue? That extra money could be the difference in meeting budget or bond market targets.

How to find your 3-7% extra net revenue:

  1. Adoption of a new attitude. Policies and procedures have been adopted over time that balance the effort and expense of collecting versus the return. Making policies that allow for write offs of cases under $500 or $300 creates the mindset that it is ok to “just write it off.” If $500 is ok to write off, then why not the $15 co-pay? The concept is to reinforce the attitude that NOTHING is written off without a “good” reason. Hospital revenue cycle leaders get under pressure to lower A/R and it is too easy to compromise on small amounts that can add up. But when its ok to write off $15 it becomes easier to write off larger amounts. Additionally, reinforcing the attitude of no write off without a good reason helps support collection efforts of the front offices as well as in the back end
  2. Trend analysis needs to be refined and acted upon more quickly. The new analysis is one plus one equals a trend. Reporting in revenue cycle often trends towards financial statistics and contractuals. Reporting needs to get more granular and specific to highlight trends in more real time. The best way to get real time information is to educate and empower your skilled staff.
  3. The staff need to understand that when they see something happen twice – sound the alarm. Getting a denial or a rejection you don’t understand once happens. But twice is a trend. You do not need to wait until 10 or 50 or 100 examples occur to request an investigation, create a report and send to a payer. Health plan payment systems are very precise and anything unusual needs to be acted upon immediately.
  4. Get better at reporting and documentation – fast. To support the staff, create rigor in the documentation of issues with plans. Nothing helps contract discussions for the managed care lead than starting off with how difficult the health plan is administratively. Reporting also needs to be detailed and refined in new ways to spot trends and support the managed care staff.
  5. Establish new interactions with payers – set expectations and standards. Monthly meetings with payers need to reframed. The managed care lead needs to get agreement on performance and service expectations of the health plan. Simple expectations of responsiveness, service turnaround, etc. is imperative and needs to be enforced with the health plans.
  6. Use process improvement techniques – be rigorous. Collecting the last few percentage points of revenue requires focus and discipline. Using process improvement techniques and their rigor is a must to gain and sustain results.

Hospitals need to ask the question: what more can be done to gain net revenue? Re-evaluating the revenue cycle and creating a “need attitude” is key. Adding a new focus and training for staff will create the ability to approach payers in a new way for new results.

(1) 2018 Advisory Board Research Annual Health Care CEO Survey conducted between December 2017 and March 2018.

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Maximum Wow Strategies Lead to Scarcity

See Previous post.

A maximum wow strategy is when a lot of money is spent on something grand, splashy and showy that delivers little or no value to the company or its customers.

A prime example of this is when a company builds an expensive and extravagant off-site corporate headquarters. When I was a young man, my father told me, “Son, beware of your ego. A man’s ego can get him into a lot of trouble and cost him a lot of money. Ego trips are very costly.” Many a company has been severely weakened by a CEOs ego trip of building a lavish corporate headquarters that often was not even needed. The offices they already had were serving the company just fine.

For a counter example I would offer Walmart. Walmart is the largest brick-and-mortar retail establishment in the world by a very large margin. Its corporate offices have for many years been in the top of its warehouses in Bentonville, Arkansas. Top corporate officers are in plain offices with cheap wood paneling and utilitarian steel desks. This proximity to its distribution centers gave corporate officers a profound and intimate understanding of the needs of its supply chain. Walmart developed the most sophisticated automated distribution centers of any brick-and-mortar retailer. These sophisticated automated distribution centers are credited with a large part of Walmart’s competitive advantage over other brick-and-mortar retailers. This is Sam Walton’s legacy. As wealthy as he was, he was a man without an ego. He was a form follows function kind of man. Good enough was good enough. We will save excellence for our customers.

If a competitor had wanted to destroy Walmart, instead of building a gleaming corporate headquarters in the downtown of a major American city for themselves, they would have built and paid for one for Walmart on the condition that they must house their corporate officers there. This would have isolated Walmart’s leadership from the needs of its supply chain and decreased the likelihood that they would have ever built their automated distribution centers costing them their current competitive advantage.

Value is defined as quality divided by cost. So how do we define quality? Is it a large towering building built of the finest materials and sitting on a piece of prime real estate? Or is it proximity, awareness, humility and engagement? I would argue that Walmart’s choice of its corporate offices was the value decision not just because it delivered at a lower cost but also because it delivered a higher-quality leadership engagement for the company.

A maximum wow strategy is company leadership writing big checks and taking on heavy debt to be paid for by the company for ego-driven projects that deliver low value to the organization.

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A Case of Stinking Thinking?

Are you or anyone you know suffering from an advanced case of “stinking thinking”, as Zig Ziglar would call it? Quick, you must do something about it! Do not get stuck in the vicious cycle of misery motivation as misery loves company. Here are some simple tactics that can help:

  • Research supports that the first significant encounter of the day impacts the rest of the day, more than 4 encounters combined in the rest of the day. Start your day with positive, relaxing or energizing activities and stay away from experiences or people that are negative triggers. You cannot avoid them, but knowing that they sap your energy, you need to ensure that they are not at the beginning of your day.
  • Self-talk is proven to lead to a winning attitude. May feel a little weird but it works! Your brain needs positive stimulation in terms of encouragement and who better to do it than you. The Pygmalion Effect or self-fulfilling prophecy is equally true when applied to yourself.
  • If you do not enjoy self-talk, have a wish box. Write down notes or desires or wishes that you want to come true. Every night or morning take a quick look at them, so you are reiterating them to yourself. The power of repetition cannot be underestimated.
  • Eyes are a window to your soul! You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with how you see yourself. So, work on your self-image. You must be your biggest advocate and promote yourself. Be aware of your strengths, leverage them and work on your areas for improvement. Set simple goals for yourself so you view progress and that enhances your self-confidence.
  • Attitude is a discipline - it teaches you obedience and enhances your leadership abilities. We all look up to role models that inspire us with their attitude as well as actions. Positive thinking has its limitations I agree. You cannot do everything just with an attitude perhaps, but you can surely do everything better than you can with a negative attitude.
  • Change your lens. Do not be a fault finder. Find the good in things or people. Use appreciative inquiry when you interact with others. You cannot control what others do or say but you can choose how to react or be proactive and choose how you let other people in.
  • Get your neurotransmitters to do the work! Dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine and endorphins are known to physiologically boost your “emotions”. Learn more about how you can help yourself release these and build that into your routine. Physical exercise is one easy way, but everyone’s body and life circumstances are different so find what works for you.
  • Attitude of gratitude. The healthiest of all emotions is gratitude. It is very easy to let one negative encounter or one aspect of our life or work that is not working in our favor to influence everything else. Make a gratitude list and look at it often. On better still, think of one thing that you are grateful for at the start of each day. For every reason that you find to be miserable, I guarantee you can find at least 2-3 to celebrate, you just need to look!
  • Give it all you got! I tell students that I mentor, don’t have too many options. Although prudence suggests having a backup plan, it dilutes your efforts and attention. Data supports that immigrants are 4 times more likely to become millionaires in America. Why is that? As an immigrant, it is the unwavering persistence and the commitment to excel and not having many options that has driven me consistently. Now your goal doesn’t have to become a millionaire but regardless push yourself to your limits and see how your destiny unfolds!

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Lessons I Learned at Wiederhold & Associates

Before I joined Wiederhold & Associates, I had heard of executive coaching but never really understood what it entailed. I knew of generic outplacement firms that provided services to aid in job transition but did not know of transition coaching. The past four years have been an invaluable experience, exploring and learning about both these niches from one of the best in the industry! Above all, the talented and inspiring leaders that I have had the opportunity to meet, the lasting relationships built, the experienced and dedicated coaches that give it all to help leaders uncover strengths and hidden potential, and the team that makes all this happen behind the scenes, have made an indelible impression on me.

I’ve been fortunate to have good mentors and great teams that I have worked with and learned from throughout my career. Some of the lessons that life experiences taught me, I got to validate in my experience working with over 100 executives through Wiederhold & Associates. As I look back, I’d like to share some of the key lessons I will carry on with me in my career.

✔ Relationships trump performance
✔ Preparation is the key to success
✔ Passion is a key differentiator
✔ You get to define your own success
✔ Accomplishments must speak of your value or impact on the organization
✔ Maintain a business log, before exiting a role gather relevant data and metrics
✔ Keep your resume updated always
✔ Attitude can make or break you
✔ You cannot let your network “go cold”, relationships are a continuous work in progress
✔ Choosing the path less travelled may be riskier but also opens doors you never knew existed
✔ Opportunities are most often created, they don’t always exist
✔ Coaching is not punitive, it is a reward!
✔ Interviewing and being interviewed require completely different set of skills
✔ Even the most accomplished leaders have insecurities
✔ Dealing with emotions head-on is the best way to move forward, especially negative ones
✔ Always be aware of how you “show up” to others, not what you think of yourself. Perception is reality.
✔ Being vulnerable is human, not a sign of weakness
✔ Self-awareness is critical to emotional intelligence
✔ When you stop learning, you stop growing and you stagnate
✔ Take responsibility for your actions, but blaming yourself will get you nowhere
✔ Focus on what you can control, don’t waste your energy on external factors
✔ Be intentional, be mindful, be present
✔ Transition is hard, even if the choice was yours. It takes a village!
✔ Don’t burn bridges, it’s a small world!
✔Healthcare has and will always be a very dynamic and demanding industry
✔ You always come out a stronger and better leader, when you go through transition!

Mitali

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Changes to the Wiederhold & Associates Team

We wanted to make you aware of some changes to the Wiederhold & Associates team. Please see our announcement below.

Mitali Paul, MHA, MBA, FACHE, who has been with Wiederhold & Associates almost four years, recently accepted an opportunity to step back into a hospital executive role. As of August 1st, she will be the CEO of a brand new inpatient rehabilitation hospital scheduled to open in Fall 2018. While we will miss her and her contributions to Wiederhold, we are sure you join us in wishing her much success in her new role. Mitali will continue as a trusted advisor to our organization moving forward.

Chris Ekrem, MBA, FACHE, has come on-board as Vice President of Business Development and Operations for Wiederhold & Associates. Chris brings two decades of hospital administration experience in healthcare operations, management and financial leadership. He led highly successful business development projects during his tenure in operations and administrative leadership roles at community hospitals, academic medical centers and Critical Access Hospitals in Texas and Kansas. Chris began his career as a financial analyst at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida, and expanded his skill set through project manager and decision-support positions before advancing to the C-suite in roles as a Chief Operating Officer (Kansas) and a Chief Executive Officer (Texas). Most recently, he was Vice President at Tyler and Company; a retained healthcare executive search firm in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chris earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from Baylor University in Waco, Texas and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Redlands in Redlands, California. He holds a board certification in healthcare management as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). In addition to his long-standing membership in ACHE, Chris also has been active in state healthcare leadership as a Texas Hospital Association Leadership Fellows graduate and as a Kansas Hospital Association Leadership Institute graduate.

Chris is very passionate about helping people in transition, delivering excellent customer service, and mentoring healthcare executives throughout their journey. In his free time, Chris enjoys teaching high school students about personal finance for Junior Achievement and mentoring early careerists through ACHE in Tennessee/ Georgia. Chris is married to Lindsey, his best friend, a busy mother of two, and a highly skilled nurse. He also tries to keep up with his enthusiastic two-year-old son, Grayson and six-year-old daughter, Brianna.

Thank you,

Jim Wiederhold

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Strategy Transformation – A New Business Model for a Rapidly Changing Industry

‘Gary Skarke is an expert in the area of transformation. His company’s success, for the most part, has been outside of healthcare but has touched healthcare on a small scale. As we all know, healthcare is going through a significant transformation and most of what he will share in the article below aligns well with what is happening in the healthcare industry today.

This is the second article in a series of articles focusing on the many types of transformation his company has helped other organizations navigate successfully and how these same situations are occurring within healthcare today.” – Jim Wiederhold

Click here to read the first article.

Strategy transformation focuses on developing and implementing a new strategy to respond to competitive pressures. One global company needed to grow revenue and profitability and their strategy was to expand their business model to sell not just products but also services. Previously, they sold software products and relied on customers to implement – but customers could not always implement successfully. So, the company made a strategic decision to get into the services business. The company realized they did not have the processes, skills, behaviors, metrics or culture to be successful in that new business model. “We don’t ever interact with the customer and our people do not have the skillsets to successfully interact with customers either.” Typically, such changes require five years. Given the urgency of the situation, the company went on a fast track implementation program. Based on the strategy Playbook for the first year and then three years, the company had a roadmap for making the significant transitions required. At the end of year three, our audit determined the company achieved the business results as well as operational results of doubling revenues and increasing profitability by 30%.

In the U.S healthcare industry, organizations similarly must have dynamic strategies to determine how to maneuver the changing regulatory and legislative landscape and then quickly and successfully implement that strategy, while ensuring a focus on patient centered care and value. Legislation is changing the way healthcare providers do business but cannot negatively impact delivery of healthcare services to patients. As a result, organizations are trying to merge or acquire other providers in the healthcare chain, such as CVS acquiring a health insurance company, pharmacies (both stand alone and grocery-store based) provide clinic services, and healthcare systems are formed to take advantage of economies of scale and increased market share. Given the short time horizon, it is even more critical to have flexible strategies with expedited implementation to ensure results are achieved before the next wave of changes occur.

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Grit = Passion + Persistence

When we talk about attributes or “soft” skills that play an important role in determining success, grit is somewhat of an unknown. Recently I was introduced to Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk about her research on “grit” as a predictor of success in work and life. The dictionary defines grit as “courage and resolve; strength of character”. When you think about successful leaders – having a values-based character, a strong passion for and commitment towards a vision, and the resilience to achieve it, is what stands out. Your professional journey is a marathon and not a race. To be in it for the long haul is success (not just achieving the milestones along the way), and it takes more than just talent or intelligence. Passion can drive you to graduate school or to innovate and start a company, but it is perseverance that will help you succeed and thrive. Can grit alone get you there? Probably not, but lack of grit surely will not!

It involves staying steadfast on your path, overcoming failures and viewing challenges as opportunities to grow, regardless of the effort involved. It involves risk, sacrifice, sincerity and self-control. It takes deliberate practice and intentional strategy. As Lincoln said “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I would spend 6 of those hours sharpening my axe. “

Grit is a fascinating word for me personally. I have always appreciated passion and perseverance but to find a word that can articulate both of those significant qualities together is delivering a power packed punch! So, as you take on that next challenge in your personal or professional life, ask yourself if you have the grit to see it through. If you don’t, work on changing your mindset first. And if you do, success should follow…

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What is transformation…and why should we care?

“I’d like to introduce Gary Skarke. He is an expert in the area of transformation. His company’s success, for the most part, has been outside of healthcare but has touched healthcare on a small scale. As we all know, healthcare is going through a significant transformation and most of what he will share in the article below aligns well with what is happening in the healthcare industry today.

This is the first in a series of articles focusing on the many types of transformation his company has helped other organizations navigate successfully and how these same situations are occurring within healthcare today.” – Jim Wiederhold

* * * * * * * * * *

In today’s environment, organizations must change – and change dramatically – to survive and thrive. Who remembers what happened to RCA televisions, Motorola cell phones, or Myspace (competitor with Facebook) or how they lost their market leadership? They did not make the dramatic innovations and changes (typically called transformations) to stay ahead of the competition. Businesses have made transformations for a number of years although they were previously called under the headings of quality, reengineering, Lean Six Sigma, and others. Such transformations were made to cut costs, grow, increase customer satisfaction or simply stay in business. United States healthcare similarly has and is undergoing transformations, many of which are mandated by the U.S. government, like electronic medical records. We wanted to share what transformations are happening with businesses so that they can be applied more readily to healthcare.

Organizations are appropriately cautious about transformations. A 2015 survey by McKinsey* found that only 26% have been “very” or “completely” successful at both improving performance and equipping the organization to sustain improvements over time. Transformation is an overused term. It is not a tweek, but an overhaul – a complete change in the way business is done. IBM was at one time only a provider of hardware such as computers but transformed successfully into a provider of consulting services. The amount of effort that goes into the change is proportional to the impact on the organization. The bigger the change, the bigger the effort, and the bigger the potential results. Transformations can be around any or all of the following: strategy, process, systems, metrics and culture. We will cover each of these areas in a series of brief articles.

* McKinsey & Co., 2015, “How to Beat the Transformation Odds”

TBO International LLC provides transformation services to help clients beat the odds for successful outcomes.

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The Importance of Mentorship in Our Lives

We all need guidance. Even the most seasoned professional needs a sounding board from time to time. I am a firm believer that as professionals we can choose to never stop growing, learning, and evolving into the best version of ourselves. Part of this growth is directly influenced by the people we seek out for support.

One of the things my mother said to me as a young adult was, “You are the company you keep.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was talking about mentorship and being mentored in the most basic sense. To affect another in a positive way and to have them do the same in return, all while growing as a person.

Three ways a mentor/mentee relationship adds value to your life:

  1. Lends you a new perspective. Being a mentor or mentee puts you in the mindset of the other person, even if just for a moment. It can be invaluable to get the perspective of another professional on situations that are occurring in your world in which you feel you have little to no control over. This type of discussion could lead to possible action items or solutions. At the very least, you will leave the conversation feeling like someone actually understands.
  2. Growth opportunity. Often your mentor has been in the profession longer than you and can offer additional insight into a lot of different scenarios. Soak this type of information up and learn from it. Take the gift of hindsight they offer you and make improvements and grow because of it. Conversely, a mentor can grow equally from the vision a younger professional may bring to the table.
  3. Expand your network and give back. Share connections with one another. Start building relationships with the professionals that your mentor/mentee connect you with. This is how genuine professional friendships are created. It’s interesting how things work. While you might be the mentee in one relationship, you will become the mentor in the next. In each instance though you will grow as a professional and as an individual. It’s a win-win.

At Wiederhold & Associates we are launching a mentor program offering our large network of professionals the chance to create deep and meaningful professional relationships with one another. With over 25 years in the healthcare industry, Wiederhold and Associates has one of the largest and most effective networks in the United States. Our Mentor Program takes this network connection one step deeper. It gives the mentor and the mentee the opportunity to use common experiences to glean further insight into life and career situations. There is no stronger bond than those created through shared experience.

Interested in joining our Mentor Program? Click here for more information.

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Leadership's Necessary Ingredients

By definition the term Leadership implies that one has followers, but in real life how does one obtain followers? Often individuals are in positions where the job description states very explicitly they will have authority over the activities, schedules, performance, etc., etc., of others. This is a big responsibility but does being in a position of authority make you a leader? If not, does authority require leadership? Conversely, does leadership require authority?

Is leadership essential for positions of authority, or is it just a human trait that would be nice if available? If a person in authority - aka ‘boss’ - does not have to be a leader, then should we say that leadership is not a prerequisite for being a boss? If not, then if the boss doesn’t formally lead then who does? In my experience, I have found that often the greatest leaders in an organization are not individuals who are in positions of authority but nevertheless have followers and influence the organizational team and culture in very significant ways whereupon often the implementation and execution of organizational goals and objectives are directly determined by them - our informal leaders. Some examples of leaders without formal title and authority were Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Joan of Arc to name a few.

I have found that it is optimal if bosses are also leaders, but unfortunately the former does not always entail the latter. Often an organization has people in positions of formal authority and responsibility who are not leaders and consequently have very little influence and leverage over team productivity and goal execution but yet have all the responsibility. Although it must be noted that frequently when a boss is not a leader it is due to no fault of his or her own. Maybe they are new to the organization or possibly young and lack experience, maybe a bad hire and put in the wrong position or maybe they are experts in a vital area but truly possess little ability in areas of communication and or interaction with people. There can be numerous reasons why a boss is not a leader.

These formal bosses may make decisions and create and finalize numerous policies, but still are not able to actually achieve progress towards the organization’s goals and objectives because they have few if any followers. Often, they will experience frustration and or anger and may be tempted to implement and execute policy and protocols with force, fear and intimidation to make up for their shortfall in leadership. Unfortunately, this usually has a disastrous affect, fostering anger, resentment, resistance and or anxiety and paralysis. Ultimately the results show up on the P&L in the form of higher labor cost caused by excessive turnover, unwarranted overtime and lower revenue caused by poor patient experience and lower quality of care i.e., angry or afraid staff just are not capable of giving compassionate, attentive, high quality care.

I have found there are two essential ingredients necessary for genuine leadership; respect and like. Respect means people believe you know where you are going and you know how to get there. Like means they believe you care about them and that you want them to succeed and enjoy the journey. If they respect you but do not like you then they will follow you but they will not stay with you. If they like you but do not respect you then they will stay with you but they will not follow you. To be a true leader and to achieve real success you must have both; competency and compassion, intelligence and heart, respect and like. This will result in followers who voluntarily follow and stay with you long enough to accomplish something meaningful.

There are three key questions then presented:

  1. How do we assure that people in positions of formal authority and responsibility become true leaders?
  2. How do we assure organizational success during their leadership educational journey?
  3. How do we assure utilization of people not in positions of authority and responsibility but who are genuine leaders?

First, to accomplish the aforementioned, we as senior leaders must create through our actions and our hiring process a culture of caring and respect. Simply said, “The Golden Rule must be part of our key criteria for hiring, it should be emphasized in orientation and clearly and strongly stated in our code of conduct and be the center of our continuing education. But most importantly it must be ‘shown’ in our daily walk and talk, emphasized in our interaction with direct reports and leaders of tomorrow and exemplified in our decision making and prioritization of goals and objectives.

Second, we must truly believe that our staff are assets and not liabilities and invest our time, effort and resources accordingly. Everything we want to achieve in healthcare involves people. Nothing can get done successfully without them. If we want competent leaders, then we must invest in them as such. We must invest on a continuous basis in their education and training and mentoring and coaching if we expect them to develop the competency required for leadership. Wisdom and prudence demands that we do this so that our most valuable assets – our staff – are leading with up to date knowledge, skills and know-how rather than being ill equipped for the future and getting left behind.

Third, we must create a culture of inclusion which means everyone is part of the same big team. Our culture and belief system must entail the core belief that everyone has equal intrinsic value as human beings i.e, different roles with different responsibilities but all of equal value. This would then be exhibited in our team dynamics where every person in authority, every boss, would value and listen to input and not only allow feedback on ideas and decisions but highly encourage it from everyone. A culture that recruits, hires and trains its individuals of authority to listen and serve rather than direct and dictate i.e, humility. Individuals who intimately understand they do not know everything and are not expected to know everything and have true humility, will identify, value and listen to their informal leaders and use them as champions in a positive way for the betterment of the team, patients, community and organization.

An organization that creates a culture of leadership that exemplifies the Golden Rule; cares for and respects all staff; sees staff as assets and invests in them accordingly; values all individuals equally; is inclusive and listens; and where humility is an expectation of all positions of authority will best be able to assure there is consistent genuine leadership which has followers who both Trust and Like them, because they exhibit Competency and Compassion, Treat their staff as Assets and utilize both Formal and Informal leaders consistently for the good of all.

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DON'T GET AMAZONED

The company that puts you out of business will not look like you!

The job of an entrepreneur/CEO is to look around the corner to see what is coming in the future. It is hard to know what a competitor looks like when they may not look like me (see: Amazon vs. Sears, Uber vs. Yellow Cab).

When I peek into the future, how do I know what I am looking for? What will my competitor or my business model look like tomorrow? The risk of missing a change in the business model is great. My role is to work on new processes that can help my clients get more value and make Medic Management Group more competitive. Many CEOs are concerned that disruptive companies may enter their business segment and change the business model. Amazon may not enter my business space - health care management - but I have to worry about companies like Apple and Google.

In my world, I cannot be lulled into thinking that patients will continue to seek health care in brick-and-mortar buildings. The technology explosion in health care does not just relate to genomics, new medications and surgical treatments. Every day new technology is being developed to enable patients to be seen from remote location s through monitoring devices that communicate with the providers. The telemedicine advertisements that we see on TV are just the beginning.

Many entrepreneurs and CEOs are too busy working on the day-to-day issues of their companies to explore new opportunities. We are so entrenched in day-to-day that we do not think like the generation of entrepreneurs that is looking for the new way. In the past, we attended annual trade shows, or we would study our competition to see what they were doing. Today, by the time you see what the competition is doing or hear the ideas that are discussed at trade shows, it may be too late.

How do we keep from being 'Amazoned?'

  1. Get new ideas from businesses not in your industry. When you meet friends or talk with colleagues, do not just ask ' how's business?' Ask what new ideas and technologies they are seeing in their field and consider how they can be adapted to your business.
  2. Perform a critical analysis of the current business by your team or an outside entity. How can we do it better?
  3. Learn about bots, artificial intelligence and new technology, and find out how they relate to your products and offerings.

As the CEO, owner, entrepreneur, you are the chief visionary. You cannot delegate something as important as understanding the future of your company. A 22nd century vision is critical. Those of us that "skate to where the puck is going, not where it is has been" have an advantage over our competitors, current and future.

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Four Ways to Connect with a Recruiter

A common question I get is, “How do I talk to recruiters?” Treat the call like any conversation. Be genuine and interested. The primary goal of the conversation is to gain a partner in the search for your next position.

If you approach each conversation with a recruiter as an opportunity to create a partnership, build a relationship and make a genuine connection, you will see more job opportunities sent your direction.

Here are four tried and true ways to connect with recruiters:

  • Do your homework. Find out what you can about the recruiter and his/her organization. This will help you create a connecting point, or something you have in common. If that happens to be a mutual connection, be sure you find out the nature of their relationship before you name drop. You won’t do yourself any favors if you mention someone they don’t know or someone they don’t like.
  • Have a great value statement. Get their attention with your positive attitude and make them want to call you back. Before calling the recruiter go through your own resume/CV. What does a recruiter want to know about you and the organizations you’ve served? What makes you different from other candidates? The more specific that you can be by showing impact through measurable outcomes, the more weight it carries and the more memorable you become.
  • Always have some good open-ended questions ready. Seek their feedback and draw upon their experience within the industry. Ask them what they look for when identifying a strong candidate and deciding to move them forward. Let them know you are always looking for a way to present information to recruiters and hiring managers in the best, most efficient way possible and in the format they desire.
  • Determine your next steps. You may not get into a search, gain connections or helpful information from the recruiter during the call, but don’t let that stop you from creating your own follow-up plan. Mention to him/her that you will be checking in with them periodically and encourage them to do the same should an opportunity come across their desk that might be of interest. Cultivate and grow that sense of partnership between the two of you and under no circumstances do you want to be perceived as going around them to get to an opportunity they are representing.

It’s important to remember when working with recruiters that you are not their only prospect and while they have your information in their file, it is necessary for you to make the effort to reach out to them on a regular basis in order to stay in the top of their mind. There is no room for ego here, instead try to think of it as cultivating a genuine relationship and partnership so that they can effectively help you find the next job opportunity.

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Good customer service is universal in healthcare – no matter where you call home

Through the years, I have been in healthcare leadership positions located in settings that are as culturally diverse as they are geographically. Areas as different as the temperate and sunny but traffic congested city of Los Angeles; the quiet, and beautiful but often resource scarce, farm and ranchland of rural Oklahoma; and the exciting but very crowded international commercial center of Shanghai, China.

What I have found from living and working in these places and becoming acquainted with so many beautiful, but seemingly very different and diverse people, is that healthcare consumers are not as different as they first appear.

What I have discovered is that healthcare consumers are customers and that when you boil everything down, what they want is the same as any other customer. They all want convenience, short waiting times, cleanliness, comfort, safety, respect, courtesy, organization, competency, honesty, confidentiality, clear communication and good results.

I realize the aforementioned customer preference descriptors are very common and general in nature and maybe not very helpful unless they can be translated into understandable specifics which can then be implemented into the daily actions and behaviors of our organization. We want to put them on an operational improvement check list and then check them off one by one. If is tangible, concrete and it feels good to check those boxes; a feeling of tangible accomplishment. But I have found that as important as the tangible operational improvement check list is, what is more important are the intangibles and how do we make our customers feel. Because like it or not the bottom line for our organization’s brand and image and ultimately the very success of its mission is how do our customers feel after they use our services and how does this compare to how they felt before they entered our doors.

We are all emotional beings with numerous feelings inside, so how our customers feel after visiting us is not just about their physical condition but also about their emotional and mental well-being. Operationally there are many things we can do to address and improve the tangible parts of our facilities and make the lobbies more beautiful, the front desks and hallways tidier, the furniture more comfortable, the rooms quieter and more private, the medical information secure and confidential, etc., etc.., but what about the intangibles? How do we make our customers feel respected, feel cared for, feel heard, feel important? How do we make our customers feel that we will take care of them and thus make them want to come back again?

Healthcare is still a service industry, not a manufacturing industry. Operational efficiency will only take us so far. Customer Service is created by the people inside our facilities, by what we do and how we do it. In other words, it is dictated and driven by “Our Culture” and as the famous business management guru, Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats Strategy for dinner every time.”

Culture drives everything and comes from the top down. Putting customers first, caring for them, respecting them, listening to them, must be exemplified by the leadership team not just in word, but in action. And not just shown by the way we as leaders treat our customers but also in how we treat our staff. I made a commitment to speak at every opportunity to all new hires in my hospital during their Orientation, and one thing I said I had learned is we must treat our staff the same way we want them to treat our patients. We cannot care for our patients if we do not care for each other. And our kindness and compassion must be genuine. People cannot be fooled with fake kindness or slight-of-hand courtesy. We must never be so busy that we do not make our customers - our patients and our staff the #1 priority in action and deed.

Creating an authentic customer service-oriented culture that genuinely cares is not easy, but it is what I have found to be the single most important and strongest driver for operational, financial and marketing success of every hospital team I have ever had the pleasure and privilege to lead, whether in Los Angeles, Rural Oklahoma or Shanghai, China.

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Hard-wiring Your "Soft" Skills

We all know that the secret sauce to success is having the right ingredients of skills, knowledge and abilities. Skills and knowledge can be gained through educational training, work experience and mastery through practice. The abilities often revolve around the “soft” skills you possess. One definition sums it up for me – “Soft skills are the personal attributes, personality traits, inherent social cues, and communication abilities needed for success on the job. Soft skills characterize how a person interacts in his or her relationships with others.” (Source: The Balance)

Why are these skills important? Have you met a highly qualified and brilliant person who may be struggling in their career? Well, chances are that their EQ (emotional quotient) may not be as high as their IQ (intelligence quotient). Teamwork, communication, leadership, listening, negotiation, self-promotion, critical thinking, conflict management, innovation, flexibility, emotional regulation, persuasion - the list maybe endless depending upon your professional niche. But these skills help you better utilize your technical skills and be more effective and competent in what you do. Lack of these skills can also be “derailers” to your success. We spend years sharpening our “hard” skills through school and continuing education, certifications etc. But not enough attention is paid to investing in cultivating the soft skills which are much harder to master but can really differentiate you in a highly competitive market. Although some of these abilities maybe innate, most of them can be developed through awareness and deliberate practice.

Through heightened emotional intelligence, you can learn how to balance the rational and limbic systems in your brain and enhance your personal and social competence. The four core skills of emotional intelligence are – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. As you advance through the various domains, the soft skills become easier to master. The first step is to identify key skills that are necessary for success in your chosen field. You can do this by reviewing “job descriptions” for positions like yours, speaking with role models, mentors, industry stalwarts. The next step is a self- evaluation exercise to help you identify which of these skills you possess and how strong they are and, which skills are areas for opportunity. There are several tools out there that can be used like Myers-Briggs, DiSC, Stengthfinders, Hogan Leadership Assessment, Leadership Circle Profile 360. You can also work with a coach on this and the next step. The final step is reviewing the assessment results and laying out an action plan to address the gaps and strategize on improvement. Behavioral change takes time and baby steps will help you get there.

Over a series of blogs, we will explore several of these skills that can magnify your success, both personally and professionally. Stay tuned!

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How to make the hiring manager believe you are the best candidate for the job

As a job-seeker, one of our biggest pitfalls is failing to align ourselves properly with the position. Simply put, we use our language and not their language, otherwise known as the wording used within the job description. Your accomplishments and job experiences may fulfill all they are asking for and then some, but if you fail to communicate it in the organization’s words, your cover letter and resume are likely to get tossed aside and overlooked.

How to properly align your cover letter and resume with the job description.

  1. Read it. It may sound basic, but so many people don’t truly read. As you read it, highlight key responsibilities or recurring elements throughout the description. These are “their words” or the phrases that you need to use in your cover letter and resume.
  2. Next, tweak your cover letter and resume to include those critical elements. Use your existing accomplishments to support their words. Often it helps to use their language as headers and even bold them, creating a bulleted list of your accomplishments beneath it. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to see you are aligned perfectly for the position, even if you do not have the typical background.
  3. Also important is to close your cover letter with a short paragraph showing you identify with the mission and culture of the organization. You may or may not be able to glean this from the job description. If you can’t, do further research online and through your own network connections.

Aligning yourself with the job description may give you the edge you are looking for, effectively separating yourself from the competition. It also sends the message to the hiring manager that you have given their position thoughtful consideration by taking the time to cater to their organization specifically. You can bet this personal touch is noted and appreciated.

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Are You Ready for 2018?

2017 has been a turbulent year for the healthcare industry. Not only have we seen tremendous disruption in technology and innovation, but also more consolidation and strained resources. Natural disasters across the country and the unstable economy have added to the mounting pressures. Leaders have been challenged to do more with less, like never before. You may be using predictive analysis tools in strategizing for your organization, but have you looked at your personal toolkit to see if you are ready for what’s in store in 2018?

At Wiederhold & Associates, we consider three key ingredients for success – history, process, and relationships. Here are some techniques to proactively and methodically plan for a successful 2018.

History:

  • List of accomplishments - Do you have a list of professional achievements for the year? Grab a pen or type out a list, before you forget! It is important to keep track of any milestones, at work or outside, that have been proud moments for you. As time passes by and memories fade, you may lose track of things that may have significance in the future. Doing a quick year-in-review list of accomplishments will help you document and keep these fresh. Or even better, start a business journal and keep it updated throughout the year.
  • Resume - When was the last time you updated your resume? You do not have to be actively looking for a job to keep your resume updated. In times like these when change is inevitable and happens at lightning speed, it is always a good idea to periodically update your resume especially with new skills, accomplishments or credentials that you may obtain along the way. The same applies for your LinkedIn or any other social media profiles.
  • Self-assessment – Have you done a gap analysis for yourself lately? There are several assessment tools available but even a simple exercise of listing any new skills that you have learned or honed, assessing any areas that still need development, and identifying ways to work on these ensures that you are focusing on your professional growth. The core competencies for roles have steadily evolved, and what measures were used to assess your performance even five years ago may not be as relevant as what is needed in the future. Do you have a competency checklist for the types of roles you see yourself in and are you diligently working towards building/polishing those skills?

Process:

  • Personal Brand – Have you “Googled” yourself lately? Always be aware of what is floating in cyberspace about you. Reputation management is an active and lifelong task of maintaining your personal brand. At times you may find yourself caught amid a media blitz not of your own doing or liking. Being aware, and taking necessary and proactive steps to protect your online brand is critical to your professional success.
  • Goals – Do you have a SWOT analysis for yourself? Once you have identified strengths and areas of focus, set SMART goals for yourself. Ensure that your personal goals align with your organizational goals, if there is dissonance it is time to reflect! Where possible, have discussions with your boss to find synergies that will benefit all parties.
  • Action Plans – Do you have clear action plans to achieve your goals? What skills/experiences are you missing in your toolkit and which ones do you plan to focus on in the coming year? How will you measure success?

Relationships:

  • Networking - The holidays are a great time to reach out and reconnect with individuals in your network. It also offers a lot of social opportunities, holiday parties and gatherings to meet new people and expand your network. With work slowing down some, and the holiday cheer around, people tend to be more open to giving and receiving. A great time to nurture your relationships!

So, celebrate your accomplishments in 2017 and ring in the New Year with confidence and assertion. Cheers to your success in 2018!

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Give yourself the gift of networking – how to network during the holidays

The holidays are the perfect time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues that you may not have spoken to in a long time. The season is full of celebrations and parties where you are in the presence of a lot of untapped potential. Potential to make a connection. Spark or rekindle a new or old friendship. Networking is all about finding connection points.

Finding that common ground that endears you to the other person and during the holidays, those connections come even easier with the added ingredients of warm fuzzies (eggnog anyone?) and a healthy dose of good cheer. So, when you are headed to the next holiday party, don’t groan and moan and count the hours until you can be home in front of the fire, look at it as an opportunity to widen your net and build up your network.

How to work a room:

  1. Don’t stand by the front door. When people first arrive to a meeting or party they are nervous and looking for a place to put their things or visit a bathroom. Standing by the door is a sure way to get overlooked.
  2. Spend only five minutes with each person you meet. This is long enough to listen to what makes them unique and for you to establish a connection within exchanged pleasantries. Get their business card and offer yours if asked in return.
  3. Make notes on their business cards. Anything that will help you remember that person when you look them up later is invaluable. There is no way you can keep everyone you meet straight and that one detail about that person could be what gets you that future meeting. It adds the personal touch.
  4. Follow-up. Think of how many times you given out your business card. Now think about how many times someone used that business card to reach out to you after the fact? Part of working a room successfully lies in the follow-up. Connect with the person on LinkedIn, shoot them a quick note telling them how nice it was to meet them and add the fun fact about them you jotted down on their business card.

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Happy Holidays from Wiederhold & Associates

In lieu of mailing holiday cards, and in keeping with the spirit of giving during this time of year, Wiederhold & Associates has made a donation to a charity in honor of our clients, network members and friends for being a part of our lives this year. For 2017, due to the amount of natural disasters the U.S. faced this year, we have selected the Salvation Army as the recipient of our donation.

The Salvation Army helped with all the hurricanes that hit the U.S. this year and are currently assisting in California with the wildfires. More information on their efforts can be found at Salvation Army news.

We at Wiederhold & Associates hope and pray that you enjoy a happy and safe holiday season. As you enter the New Year, never forget what is most important: your faith, your family, and your friends.

Jim Wiederhold and

The Wiederhold & Associates Team

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Inner Leadership Development

Recently, I became certified in the Leadership Circle Profile, the most comprehensive leadership assessment system available. This is the second assessment I added to my tool chest focusing on leadership. The first was the Hogan Assessments. Together, these are a powerful measurement of where a leader is now and how he/she can improve. That decision has to be made around internal change.

The Leadership Circle Profile is a true breakthrough among 360 profiles. It is the first to connect a well-researched battery of competencies with the underlying and motivating habits of thought. It reveals the relationship between patterns of action and internal assumptions that drive behavior. Ultimately, the Leadership Circle Profile goes to a source of behavior to get greater leverage on change.

Second, the profile creates much more than just a list of behavior competencies. The Leadership Circle Profile Results are organized into a very powerful system for understanding human behavior and development, as well as for making sense of the interrelationships between the many dimensions of yourself. Unlike most profiles that take hours to interpret, the Leadership Circle Profile integrates all this information in a way that brings the key issues to the surface instantly.

The data in the Leadership Circle Profile reveals itself in seconds.

At a glance, the whole gestalt is accessible-putting leaders in touch with what is working, what is not, and why!

In most organizations, this treasure trove of information remains buried. Leadership Circle Profile makes it easily accessible

The Leadership Circle Profile provides you with a leadership MRI, giving you the entire picture in one diagram. I am proud to offer this tool to my clients who are ready to evaluate their inner leader and discover how to bring him/her into their everyday life.

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