Let’s face it – healthcare is a tough business that’s only getting tougher.
The shift to value-based care, the advent of clinically integrated networks and accountable care organizations, and the rise of electronic medical records are forcing health systems and the businesses that serve them to adapt – often sending ripples throughout the organization. With so many complex drivers shaping strategy, an educated and engaged workforce has never been more important. Yet, CEOs are increasingly challenged to share their vision in a way that is not only meaningful – but actionable. To further complicate matters, that vision must reach a diverse, distracted and highly mobile workforce.
When it comes to communicating strategy, it turns out less is often more. Rather than ramping up the volume and frequency of communications, stepping back to evaluate what you’re really trying to say and who it matters to the most can be transformative.
Here are a few tips to guide your efforts:
Go to the mountaintop. Before you can get people to take the action you want, you have to make them believe. It’s been said great brands are God-like because they represent something greater than a product or service – they represent a feeling (think Don Draper’s famous carousel pitch from Mad Men). The same principle applies to your vision. Step away from strategies and KPIs and focus on the why… Then tell that story using real people and examples. Storytelling – whether shared in conversation or through blogs or videos – is one of the most effective ways to connect with others and create lasting inspiration that will give your vision life.
Break it down. Once you’ve got them on board, share – in plain language – what the organization’s strategic plan or vision really means for them. Give them the context to understand changes in strategy and answer the all-important question “What’s in it for me?” That means explaining how it impacts their job and what you’re asking them to do differently. Use practical examples to illustrate your points and, by all means, stay away from jargon.
Segment your message. To make communication about strategic issues truly meaningful, it must be tailored. This is especially true in a hospital setting where employees have vastly different roles, experience levels, and work settings. Take a deep dive into each of the groups you need to reach and tailor your message and the communication channel accordingly. For example, posters or printouts alerting nursing staff to features of a new health information system will be more effective than email while the reverse may be true for coding staff. Always reinforce messages through one-on-one communication with managers and other respected “champions” within each group.
Respect your audience. Only communicate when you have something meaningful to share or risk being tuned out completely. I recently read about a hospital that creates a compact with new physicians – asking them to share a personal email address in exchange for a promise they will receive only relevant and important communications.
There’s no way around it – engaging employees and physicians around complex change takes time and effort. However, doing it right has the potential to transform your organization’s culture and impact the bottom line.
Rebecca is a Senior Vice President at Lovell Communications. Connect with her at: Rebecca@lovell.com.
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