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Directors wear a whole bunch of hats

Healthcare change and wearing hats

“Hospital facility directors know the Environment of Care and The Joint Commission, but you take them out of that environment and they have not developed the skill set to succeed. The world as they know it is going to change, and that is a risky proposition for them.” 

Accurate quote? Hurtful quote? Incorrect quote?

Your perception may depend on your position. But the implication of the quote is clear: Healthcare change is here. More change is coming. Different skill-sets are needed. Facility professionals who maintain chillers in the summer and boilers in the winter must add new skills to their tool belts. 

Acute care farmed out to sophisticated suburban satellite facilities. Electronic Intensive Care Units (eICUs) monitoring patient care miles from the point of care. Collaborative project delivery systems providing a voice for all staff. C-Suites emphasizing benchmarks and metrics.

To survive, directors must be able to engage in complex environments with multiple constituents.

Listen to change

Change is dramatic and constant in healthcare. COVID-19 has accelerated change: Telehealth is here for good.

I can’t help but recall a director’s comment made while we discussed the State of the Profession: “I wear a whole bunch of hats and it’s only getting worse.”

Facilities management remains filled with competing interests, which leads to many hats. Directors are ethically responsible for the lives of patients, visitors, and employees, while under pressure to reduce operating expenses, budgets, risk, and FTEs. Do you repair a trip-hazard in the parking lot or hire a subcontractor for fire-stopping? Is facility operating capital redirected to buy the latest da Vinci robot and lure a prominent surgeon? These issues are today’s reality; there is always a competing interest aligned against facility need. 

To better deal with healthcare change, we must first listen. Yet the statistics on how we listen are sobering.

  • 80% of day spent communicating (read, write, speak, listen): Of the 80%, 50% is spent listening
  • After listening to 10 minute presentation, listener remembers only 50% — 2 days later, less than 25%
  • When you speak, you speak 125/150 words a minute
  • Listeners can listen at 400/500 words per minute
  • Average adult attention span in USA: 8 seconds

Change management traces its infancy to 1962. Despite a half-century of discussion and education on change concepts, research indicates that 75% of change initiatives fail. Perhaps it is because listening, true listening, is difficult. Practice it. The first step is simple, hold your tongue!

Listen, don’t just hear, to change.

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