With national healthcare reform creating tremendous amounts of uncertainty in the business landscape, healthcare providers are working through various organizational models and contingency plans to ensure future success.
The integrated healthcare model consists of non-profit (health plan and hospitals) and for-profit (physicians) groups across regional geographies sharing multiple shared service components. Each of these decentralized business units operates independently within a single organizational framework that allows each area to focus on local competition and specific customer needs.
Unfortunately, there are conflicting goals and priorities between the business units and among the various shared services organizations that support them.
Without authoritative power or political capital to allocate limited resources, individual contributors are often rewarded for past successes by increased workload and decreased oversight of stakeholder expectation management for superior's lack of engagement and project funnel management.
For employees rated as star performers, the celebration of success manifests in an ever-increasing workload without a corresponding ability to turn work aside. In difficult economic times with headcount restrictions, everyone is stretched thin and asked to produce more with less as pressures increase inline with workplace stress.
Over prolonged periods, these pressures lead valuable employees to seek satisfaction elsewhere; and, as turnover increases, the knowledge base starts anew with inherently lower levels of service.
To stem the exodus, management must address employee needs to distribute power down the organizational structure so that individuals and teams focus on the most valuable work for the organization-at-large without falling victim to political compromises and deflected make-work from outside parties.
Engage in active problem solving and appropriate workload deflection while retaining a customer-minded focus via open, transparent, and neutral service level approach wherein team members take ownership for their work and task prioritization.
Create a project pipeline framework:
- Why is this valuable?
- What is the desired outcome?
- Who is the audience?
- How much is this worth (dollars, hours, etc).
- What is the estimated time line and level of resource allocation throughout for what ROI level and payback period?
Finally, share the approach with your stakeholders early and often and reiterate the rationale behind the pipeline prioritization task. Post it on the internal intranet, introduce it at recurring customer meetings, and create a central location on which various customer-driven project requests are openly prioritized so that customers understand their relative position on the deliverable roster with associated time lines and due dates.
In a customer-facing and customer-driven department, the concepts of pre-validating project requests, offsetting low-value endeavors, and turning towards self-service models can greatly impact the perceived value of shared service organizations. As such, expectations need to be actively managed, rebranded, and monitored throughout the process.
Program success drivers include coaching individual contributors to:
- Share a Common Message and Talk Straight about the Issues
- Go in Humble and Admit Departmental Resource Challenges
- Deflect Work without Blame and with Proposed Alternatives and Solutions
- Transparency to Decision History and Criteria
- Ability to Deflect Low-Value Projects
- Introduction of Self-Service Opportunities and Recurring Monitoring Programs
- Have management call out their priorities and provide additional support when customers push back, and
- Ask any and all relevant questions to get the project specifications and time lines understood and outlined in advance of accepting engagements.
At times, customers may be unable to respond to clarification requests. When this occurs:
- Determine what it would take to help them in the discovery process,
- Take ownership and propose potential solutions and approaches to their concerns before continuing with the project, and
- Create systems and frameworks to help the customers solve and address their own needs with internal resources.