In working with hospital leaders across the country, I’ve learned about a major concern they have but only feel comfortable talking about behind closed doors.
A Hundred Million Things
When I ask them what their biggest struggle is today, all too often they tell me some version of the fear they have that they can’t keep up with the deluge of things they have to attend to:
- The 100+ daily emails to respond to
- The 25 things to audit
- The reports to submit
- The evaluations to complete
- The incident investigations to conduct
- The daily staff engagement rounds
- The daily patient satisfaction rounds
- The best practices to implement
- …and the list goes on
And since all of these tasks need to get done in between a full schedule of meetings, they end up just attending to the next urgent thing that comes their way AND trying to avoid getting their name put on one of the delinquent lists, intended to remind leaders (or shame them, depending on the culture) to get something done.
No Time for the Things That Matter
With all this “firefighting” there’s just no time, let alone energy, for the important and meaningful activities that really matter and make for a fulfilling work life: relationship-building, creating better ways of doing things, and the learning that comes from reflection on past and present activities.
Here’s the perplexing thing: despite this being most leaders’ experience today, no one is speaking up when yet one more task gets added to the list. The assumption being that all directives coming down the pike will just have to get done.
Does this sound familiar to you? If so, it may be due to having a “Yes Man” culture in your hospital.
Does Your Hospital Have a “Yes Man” Culture?
“Yes Man” cultures are very common in the healthcare industry, with so many of its leaders having the “disease to please.”
Here are a few questions to determine whether you do or you don’t:
- In leadership meetings, do people feel comfortable speaking up if they don’t agree with the “new plan”?
- Do leaders feel comfortable saying they’re concerned about taking on more tasks?
- In your hospital, do leaders share their struggles and challenges openly?
If you answered “no” to these questions, it is likely you’re working in a “Yes Man” culture.
Why we Need to Lose the “Yes Man” Culture
The problem with this culture is we go on pretending everything is fine when it really isn’t.
As the saying goes, if a person can’t say no, they can’t say yes either.
Unfortunately, I’m seeing leaders who are so overwhelmed they’re just doing what they can to get by, rather than fully engaging in their work and reaping the rewards of fulfillment from a job well done. This causes depleted leaders and subsequently depleted staff.
A Remedy to the Overwhelm
The long-term solution to overcome the overwhelm brought about by a “Yes Man” culture is to switch to one where everyone is encouraged to have candid and frank discussions about what it will take to successfully execute the many directives coming from all directions.
This requires leaders at all levels to make it safe to talk about the challenges and to praise those who raise them. Then, working together to find ways to address them. Doing so fosters the type of growth that only an environment that encourages a healthy exchange of ideas can bring.
Although this shift can take some time, fear not, there’s a lot you can do starting today to get you on the path to thriving, instead of just surviving.
Actionable Steps You Can Take
- Don’t take it personally – Many leaders think the overwhelm is just their own inability to deal with the demands of their role, simply because no one else is talking about it. On the outside many leaders appear to be staying on top of everything but, trust me, that is not the case. The added demands are a sign of our times and most leaders in healthcare today are feeling it but – because we operate in a “Yes Man” culture – leaders don’t feel comfortable showing it.
- Shore yourself up so you can avoid getting taken down by the daily onslaught – This means starting your day with practices to help you stay calm, centered, and energized throughout your day so you can be your best self and do your best work. I recommend doing activities that ignite your emotional and physical well-being such as positivity practices and body movement.
- Reduce the amount of time you spend on routine tasks – This can be done a number of ways. Examples are: delegate to others, negotiate a change in a requirement, or combine one task with another. One leader I worked with was able to reduce the amount of time she spent on her reports by half by including some of them as standing agenda items in one of her monthly meetings.
- Systematize your complex work tasks – Many leaders procrastinate on tasks that have a lot of steps because they feel they need large chunks of time to get them done, which they hardly ever have. Then, they wind up scrambling at deadline which causes stress and a less than optimal work product. Creating processes to streamline your complex tasks will help you get them done easily and regularly. One leader I know turned her once least favorite task into one of her most enjoyable ones by breaking it down into 5 steps and then doing one step every day of her work week.
- Find like-minded leaders to share your experiences with – Support each other in finding ways of working that are energizing rather than energy depleting.
- Learn more about all these steps by joining me in my upcoming webinar:
Hospital Leadership: Rising Above the Daily Commotion with Energy, Focus and Staying Power
Become a Source of Light for Yourself, Your Teams, and Your Organization.
On Friday, February 8th at 8am PST.
In this free training, you will learn how to take command over your experience so you can cut through all the noise, lead your teams with enthusiasm and inspiration, and focus on what really matters.