RIFs. Cost-cutting. Service closures.
Countless sleepless nights go into making these gut-wrenching decisions. Many healthcare leaders are experiencing this today, navigating a down period in which the organization needs to improve performance and the bottom line – swiftly and efficiently.
Typically, leadership jumps into this work with a small, trusted team, squaring off to answer the tactical questions, like:
- What’s our budget target?
- What are the least number of positions we can eliminate?
- Where else can we consolidate?
From there, they develop a plan that meets the target, can be approved by a steering committee, which often includes Finance, Operations and Legal and hopefully, keeps at least one of their special projects.
Developing that plan is stressful, but something leaders understand. The greater challenge – and discomfort for many — lies in communicating the improvement plan with the broader team. Based on our experience helping hundreds of the nation’s top healthcare systems communicate significant change, here are five questions to consider asking your leadership team as you prepare to make hard choices:
- How did we get here? Are employees aware of the hard times our organization has experienced? How have we been talking about our organization’s health (money) to our employees and community?
- Is this one of several tactics to trim fat or improve revenue? What else are we doing to lower cost, improve revenue and serve our patients efficiently? Is there more to come?
- What’s the impact on our employees? Consider those who may be asked to leave or to work differently as well as those who will remain as part of the team. How are we communicating with compassion, empathy and respect to those impacted?
- How are we supporting our managers? Managers can make or break any change effort – how are we skilling them up, equipping them with resources and bringing them under the tent to effectively speak to our “Why” and “What this means” to employees? We can’t forget, they may be impacted directly too.
- Are our teams ready for change? Do our teams and employees trust our leaders to make the right decisions and speed the rate of improvement, change or transformation?
Answering these five questions will aid in preparing you for the difficult conversations ahead. Remember, organizations are remembered more for how they handle tough choices more than anything else.