Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Taking a break from reform to talk about bringing CHRISTUS to the next level via team building

I’d like to take a week off of our focus on health care reform to blog about something that will be of the utmost importance as we move forward, regardless of the outcomes of the reform discussions on Capitol Hill.

I firmly believe that CHRISTUS—and all health systems that expect to continue providing care far into the future—will need to ensure that it has the best and most appropriate leaders in place in order to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.

So earlier in the year, I made it clear once again to our regional leaders that they are critical to ensuring that our Journey to Excellence in the future is even more successful than it has been for the last decade. Our regional CEOs and those with whom they work are the most critical success factor in reaching our benchmark goals.

Even so, while the action of individual leaders are important, what our leaders do with their respective teams is even more critical if CHRISTUS is going to create an excellent experience for all who enter our doors. In these challenging times, the strength of the team is often weakened, and at best, not enhanced. But it is my belief that it is critical that we all focus on a process that has the potential to strengthen our teams, as well as every team, that works within the large CHRISTUS Health family both in the U.S. and Mexico.

Therefore, along with the CHRISTUS Health Senior Leadership Team, we articulated 14 Attributes of Excellent Teams, 10 of which I have used for more than 40 years in developing strong teams both clinically and administratively (which you can read about here), and four of which added in discussion with the other nine senior team members. The additional four attributes include: 1) team purpose, 2) results-driven with recognition, 3) prayerful reflection on team and performance and 4) complementary.

We then requested that our regional CEOs share these attributes with their team members in a face-to-face session and, following a discussion, have each of their team member’s rank – on a scale of one to 10 – where they perceive their respective team is on each attribute.

After calculating the team average for each of the 14 attributes, the regional CEOs and their teams were asked to develop action plans to be implemented through Fiscal Year 2010 to improve all of the attributes in which they scored a seven or less. In addition, we asked these CEOs to take accountability to continue the process so that eventually, by June 2010, every person within CHRISTUS Health, all of whom are a member of some team, somewhere, will be actively contributing to initiatives which are hopefully providing value to our ministry.

These continue to be challenging times in health care, made worse by the global economic crisis. However, as always, we find these times exciting and see multiple rainbows emerging from the clouds. Leadership in health care is an awesome responsibility, and at times, can be very lonely. Therefore, in the best and worst of times, the effectiveness of the team is critical. So in this moment in time, we are making sure that we do everything possible to strengthen our team so our Journey to Excellence continues to not only be successful, but for the most part, enjoyable and rewarding.

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