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Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

On Wednesday May 14, 2014, Community joined dozens of other companies in Fresno and thousands of companies across the United States who are encouraging employees to put on their biking shorts in the month of May for Bike To Work Day.

1960s English Racer

1960s English Racer

Cycling has it’s own language

Although I wouldn’t call myself an enthusiast yet, I’ve enjoyed the trails in Fresno thanks to my neighbor Carlos Ramirez, who part of the Fresno Cycling Club. In a couple of Saturday bike rides I learned a few things. Such as – to say you’ll ride a “ metric century” means that you’re riding 100 miles or 12 hours. Another piece of trivia I learned is that a pack of bikers is called a “pelaton”. One member of the pack may serve as the “domestique”, or “servant” because they sacrifice their individual performance to help their teammates by carrying extra supplies like food and water. I told Carlos that I’d like to simply claim that I was the domestique to explain my slow pace. He just smiled.

Is Cycling good for your Health, or Good for the Environment?

Both. We know that exercise that raises your heart rate for an extended period of time, helps control your weight, elevates your mood, and lowers your blood pressure. But cycling is also a “Green” thing to do.   The Silicon Valley Biking Coalition says that almost 40 percent of Bay Area commuters live within five miles of their workplace and that if all these people ditched their cars and biked to work instead, it would take 60,000 cars off the road that day, and reduce vehicle emissions by more than 150,000 pounds. Wow.

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John Kass, Interim COO and CNO

John and his English Racer

I decided to ask John Kass, avid cyclist and Chief Nursing Officer for Clovis Community Hospital, how he got into biking.   He said that his passion for cycling happened when his grandpa John Kohler, who was a world traveler, bought him an English Racer. At 5 years old, he wasn’t even tall enough to get on the bike himself, so his grandfather would hoist him up, and with a quick push, he’d was off – riding in circles to the amusement of the neighbors until one of them would catch him and help him down. “Riding a bike just came naturally to me”, John said.

Now instead of riding in circles around the neighborhood, John routinely rides 60-70 mile rides on a Saturday with an elevation of 4000 ft. When I asked him to take a bike-selfie, he texted me this photo.   I replied, and said “ Retake it! You need to smile”. His response was no-nonsense. “That’s what I look like after my heart rate reaches 150 and I’ve hit 90 watts per minute”, he texted back.  Only my light bulbs at home have watts, so having no idea what he was talking about, I simply replied with a smiley face emoticon and the note- “OK”.

Is Cycling about the Camaraderie, the Competition or the Challenge?

Yes. John says that when he’s cycling he watches his bike computer and tries to drive himself, but that he also likes the teamwork and fun of biking with a group.   Despite a little incident when a car pushed him off the road and he flew head first over the front of his bike suffering a fractured thumb, John is passionate about his sport of choice. When asked how old he thinks he’ll be when he stops biking, he said, – “I can’t imagine ever stopping. It’s a part of who I am”.

Congrats 

The same spirit of high performance that makes John a great long distance cyclist is a part of why he was just named the Interim Chief Operating Office at Clovis Hospital.  Congrats John.  You’re a rock star!

 

 

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In February, New York Times writer Thomas Friedman wrote an article that lit up the internet almost as much as when Ellen DeGeneres took down Twitter with her Oscar Night selfie. Its title was “How to Get a Job at Google“.

In it, Friedman interviews Laszlo Bock, Google’s Vice President of People Operations, about the kind of attributes (characteristics, traits or personal qualities), you need to get hired.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t all depend on your GPA or even your past experience.  As I read the article, it made sense to me that this recipe is one that hiring managers in healthcare should be paying more attention to, if we’re to weather the healthcare storm that’s at our doorstep.

Using the Google-Way to get hired (and promoted)

  • Fail Forward Fast: The phrase “fail forward fast” was popularized by management guru Tom Peters, but is explained most vividly by hockey great Wayne Gretsky who said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Bock is saying that Google wants people who take the shot, and when failure occurs demonstrate “intellectual humility”. Translation – Failure spurs learning which ignites success.  In it’s most productive form, if you’ve failed, you have a story to tell about what you learned.  You will have an edge against your competition because self-awareness is a rare commodity.  And even more rare is a quality called “learning agility”, which is the ability take the lessons from your past, and apply them to new and different challenges you are facing. Learning Agility is the new black.
  • Avoid the Genius-Idiot Syndrome:  Bock says Google looks for people who don’t blame their failures on other people but also rarely take sole credit for success.  Healthcare is a business so dependent upon a complex web of interrelationships that this advice could make or break your career if you are looking to move up.
  • Approach work with an equal balance of Big Ego and Small Ego:  At Google and in the new healthcare we’re trying to solve complex problems so this means that we’ve got a mix of people in the room when we collaborate.  At Google, it’s engineers and design people and finance wizards and marketing goddesses.   For us it’s physicians and nurses and operations experts and finance gurus, just to name a few.  Smart people often hold fiercely to their opinions but according to Bock, you also need to be able to step back and change your mind when presented with new facts.   Bock calls this emergent leadership. So if you have your eye on growing your career in healthcare, make a point to have a big enough ego to argue vehemently for your position, but be confidant enough to change it when someone makes a valid point.
  • Be a Dot-Connector:  Google hires people who have a skill in pulling together dissimilar pieces of information and creating something new.   In healthcare, we also need to fill our jobs with employees who can connect the dots between their own job and goals for quality, safety or financial outcomes.  People who are connectors, value and build relationships and think about things way above their pay grade.  When we encounter these people we need to protect and grow them.  If you want to be one of these highly valued and promotable people – be a dot-connector.
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James McCurley, Financial Analyst
Community Medical Centers

James

Here’s a case study at Community Medical Centers in Fresno that shows Google is right.  James McCurley is a Facility Financial Analyst at Community Regional medical Center.  He had no healthcare experience when he was hired two years ago but he did have something that a lot of candidates don’t – a degree in physics, an MBA and an insatiable curiosity.  The way James explains it, the combination of science and business has really helped him in his job. “Both physics and math are just about problem solving”, he says.  “You have to lay out the problem in an organized fashion to figure out how to solve it.”  In his quest to improve his problem solving ability James taught himself to computer program.  He’s currently working on a project to create patient “stories” that help physicians do problem oriented charting.  The project that James is most of fond of though, is one where he is working with Dr. Michael Mellenthin to identify ways to increase the utilization of the surgery suites.   He says it’s fun and that he loves working with people who have, “way more expertise than I do”.  Where does James see himself in the future?  If you asked him 2 years ago he would have said- I don’t know, but today he says, he’d like to be a Chief Operating Officer or Chief Executive Officer.

All I have to say is  – leave him alone Google!  He’s ours.

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to attend a presentation called “How to Fail at the New Healthcare: The Masters Class,” at the beautiful H. Marcus Radin Education Center on the Community Medical Center campus in Fresno.  Healthcare futurist Joe Flower has spent 30 years studying the way healthcare works and challenged us to think about the risks of 22 strategic choices we might make about how to operate in the future. The “ways-to-fail” list include things like failing to build a new business model by sticking with fee for service, failing to engage patients and physicians and forgetting to build trust.

My natural focus, in both life and in business, is to explore and reveal the positives.  I am a proponent of strengths based learning and development, emotional intelligence, and the power of positive thinking.    But just this once, I thought I’d see what happened if I explored what my friend Chris Slater, who is an artist calls, “the importance of painting the negative space.”   So, here are 10 things you can do if you want to be completely and totally miserable at work.

1) Lack a sense of humor

Life is messy so one of the quickest ways to hit bottom is to be dead serious, all – and I mean all – of the time. If you are working on a project with your peers and the DRI (Directly Responsible Individual) fails to act on one of their accountabilities, take advantage of this by blaming them, talking behind their backs or snubbing them the next time you meet them in the cafeteria.  Healthcare is a serious business right?  Falderal and silliness just causes mistakes and we can’t have that, now can we?

2) Be self-centered 

I know you think it’s all about you but really it’s all about me.  Heighten your quest for misery by focusing really hard on ignoring the people around you.  I mean, geez – how needy are those people!?  They want to be communicated with constantly.  They’re always asking for help. They are clingy and want to spend quality time together. They use reverse psychology to get compliments for themselves by saying nice things to you!  They can’t think for themselves so they’re always asking for your input. You can fix all this by saying, “Leave me alone, so I can do my work and get out of here.”

3) Think the sky is falling

Catastrophizing is an excellent way to bring on that dull prolonged sense of unhappiness.    When I hear about the innovative plans to expand our bed capacity, I know by gosh, that there is no way in H-E-double-hockey sticks that the idea is gonna work.  Seriously, things are never going to get better – EVER – no matter how hard any of us work.  See?  Uh, are you getting that sinking feeling yet?

4) Stop learning

Remember that saying, “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten?”   It’s true. There’s no reason to spend any time developing new skills.  That’s too much work.  And besides, if you are properly executing strategy #2 (Be self-centered), the teammates you are snubbing in the cafeteria will get the hint and just do those things for you.

5) Believe you’re the smartest person in the room

It’s really difficult to work amidst such a large number of low functioning people. But you must so just buck up.  Remember, things will be ok because you are the only one who really knows what’s going on.  Asking others for their insights just clouds your thinking.  This strategy works best when combined with some physical behaviors like frowning while crossing your arms in front of you, or the ultimate – the eye roll.  Use a mirror to practice.  You’ll know you’ve got this one down when people stop sitting next to you in meetings.

6) Distrust everybody

Surely you’ve been watching the news and have heard how the National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting all the phone numbers you’ve been dialing and gosh, who knows – maybe even listening to your calls.  People are sneaky.  It’s just the human condition so watch your back.  Don’t share any personal details with the people you work with.  I mean not even the names of your kids.  Why would they want to know that stuff any way?

7) Create a hit list

If you’ve developed your proficiency in #6 (distrust everybody), you’re definitely going to want to create a hit list.  Luckily on this one, we all have a great role model to follow in the Governor of the great state of New Jersey.   Step one – gather the names of everyone who has ever disagreed with you on anything and put it on a list.  Step 2 – find a way to make their life a living hell for as long as possible.  Don’t worry about the collateral damage of impacting people you never intended.  Think of it this way – if Governor Christie had been worried about the elderly having their ambulance show up on time, he never would have been able to properly make his point.

8) Talk a lot

Since #5 is true and you “believe you are the smartest person in the room,” it just makes sense that everybody else should listen to you.  Find a way to monopolize conversation.  Truly, it doesn’t matter if you know all the facts.  It’s your opinion that counts.  Oh, and go ahead and interrupt if someone else is talking—that’s always good.

9) Go it alone

We enter this world alone and we leave it alone. Our DNA is obviously programmed so that there is no need to lean on another human being for support.  Be stoic.  Hold in your feelings until you think you’ll pass out.  Remember that no one else has problems like yours – absolutely no one.  Even if someone wanted to help you they would not know the first thing about what to do.

10) Play it safe

Don’t listen to that song “Brave” by Sarah Bareilles.  Being brave just puts a target on your back.  Stay in the shadows. Don’t be direct or transparent or real or honest or committed.  Don’t express your feelings, don’t be passionate, don’t dance as though no one is watching, or love as though you’ve never been hurt or sing as though no one can hear, or live as though heaven is on earth.  What good would that do? Honestly!

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The holidays are a perfect time to catch up on reading just for fun.  This Christmas you won’t catch me knee deep in a James Michener novel.   Instead I look for lighthearted tales, with a tinge of sarcasm.   So if that’s your cup of tea as well, I recommend heating up a nice cup of hot chocolate and sitting down to read Tina Fey’s book “Bossy Pants.”

In Bossy Pants, Tina describes what she learned at Second City, an improvisation and sketch comedy theater in Chicago.  She says the rules of improvisation will change your life and reduce belly fat. And, maybe these rules can also improve the engagement on your team or the relationship with your significant other.  You be the judge.

Rule#1- Always agree and say yes.

In a business sense this doesn’t mean that we simply run with any idea no matter how bad.  Instead, as Fey puts it, the rule reminds you to “respect what your partner has created and at least start from an open-minded place.”  Fey points out that in improv, this takes the form of saying, “Freeze, I have a gun,” to which your partner should avoid saying, “No you don’t, that’s your finger.”  See.  That’s not funny.  In business when employees say, “This new software stinks,” we should avoid reviewing the three competitive bids and 20-page document that shows why it does not stink, because this kills employee engagement.  An alternative might be to say, “Yes, it sounds like we have some bugs to work through. Let’s see if IT can help us through this.”  In both comedy and business, saying “yes,” validates the other person and shows you trust what they are talking about.

Rule #2 – Say Yes, And. 

In improv, Fey says that it’s all about adding something of your own.  When your partner lays out a line like “Boy it’s hot in here,” you could respond with, “Yes, and that can’t be good for the wax figures.”  The point is relationships are positively impacted when you respect what the other person has presented and add something to it.  Fey says this rule is about not being afraid to contribute.  So as leaders we want to encourage contribution to make a little bit of magic happen.  That magic, according to Professor Fey, is the result of showing people that their initiative is worthwhile.  As employees we need to take a risk and speak up, ask for that assignment and stretch a little bit.

Rule #3 – Make Statements

This rule is Fey’s shorthand for something we often try to teach in our leadership development training curriculum.  I’m simply going to quote Fey because I don’t want to ruin the humor while making the point.  She says:   “Be a part of the solution, don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.  We’ve all worked with that person.  That person is a drag. It’s usually the same person around the office who says things like, “There’s no calories in it if you eat it standing up? Or, “I felt menaced when Terry raised her voice.”  As leaders we sometimes need a reminder to stop raising obstacles and get out of our employee’s way.   As employees we need to think positively and act with positive intent.

Rule #4 – The Best Rule:  There are no Mistakes, only Opportunities.

Employees won’t believe this if they are chastised when they try something new and it doesn’t work out.  So, while this saying is great, employees want to know they can use a little bit of trial and error.  Obviously trial and error is not a recommended practice in the surgery suite or for the employees who manufacture your car.  Fey’s words are an encouragement to create engagement by letting people takes risks.  Why?  Because, in her words, “Many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident – I mean, look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter cup or Botox.” 

What are you reading over the holidays?

*A big hearty thank you to Garth Wade at Regional and Tom Minas at Clovis for mocking their supervisors on camera. Directors Drenda Montgomery and Brenda Diel – you both are role models of supervisory wisdom!  Thanks for helping me illustrate this tale.  Happy Holidays!

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*This blog was originally posted on Community Medical Center’s Blog – It Takes Community.  Follow Peg on Twitter @peg_breen

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I’ve been reflecting on how I might lead differently in order to capture hearts and minds and influence people in the direction of a larger vision.  I think this nagging question keeps reappearing because I’ve because I know I need to make sense of the experience I’m going through.  I’ve been talking with a friend about this rear-view mirror issue – “what could we have done differently” and then read an article that may have some insight for all of us. 

Scientists David Rock and Jeffry Schwartz have coined the term “neuroleadership”.  They’ve taken a look at why organizational change fails miserably and suggest that we go about it all wrong.  We fail to recognize a few things about change and instead go along our merry way attempting to drag along our constituents.   Here’s what they say, and what they recommend we consider doing (but note, I’m not a brain scientist and  I’m giving you my personal  slant):

  • Change is pain – Hum, this has a personal ring to it.  Even change that is intended to make a positive long term difference in organizations provokes “psychological discomfort”.  I need to sit with that one awhile.  In the past I’d have said – “so what, let’s get on with it”.
  • The Carrot and Stick doesn’t work – point well taken.  The very people who resist change could also benefit greatly from it, but that still doesn’t move them.
  • Compassion and persuasion doesn’t sufficiently engage people – Being empathetic in times of great change creates a co-dependent relationship where the dialogue goes something like:

Change Resistant Employee:   This new “system” you are introducing makes me feel uncomfortable.  I don’t’ think I’ll support it”.

Relationship-Focused Manager:   “Aw shucks, isn’t this hard, I’m so sorry you have to change, why don’t you just wallow around and feel sorry for yourself while Rome is burning”.

  • Focus is Power – Here’s a silver bullet discovery:  The act of paying attention creates chemical and physical changes in the brain.  I’m going to try this experiment on myself. 
  • Repeated Attention Shapes People’s Expectations and Behavior – Another  silver bullet.  The words “repeated”, “focused” and “purposeful” all suggest this takes time. Ah ha moment: Change occurring too fast doesn’t allow the time for personal behavior change.

So, what would my coaches, Drs. Rock and Schwartz suggest I do differently next time?  Their first suggestion is facilitate change by cultivating “moments of insight” because people do not need to be provoked, but need to provoke themselves in order to change their attitude and expectations.  Second, they suggest focusing on one thing and providing positive feedback.  Brain scientists say that words like “Yes, good, that’s it”, help create the brain connections for lasting behavior change rather than “pruning” the synapses.

I’m heartened by reading and reflecting on this. Tell me what you think.  Did these observations make sense to you? What will you do differently or the same in the future?

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