Your people will make the difference. 

I am convinced of that now more than ever.  Healthcare organizations that survive round one of transformation, complete implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and then round two, sweeping deficit reduction initiatives which will probably include brutal cuts in Medicare reimbursement, must have best-in-market executives and managers or this will be a difficult time.

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The heart and soul of a great organization is the quality of its directors, managers and frontline supervisors.  Not to diminish the importance of the CEO or the executive leadership team, but as I have said many times in the past, it is the former roster of employees who really run the place, and who make the meaningful difference, day in and day out.

When it comes to developing credible employee engagement, the CEO can preach that gospel, but without really good directors and middle management personnel, that empowerment sermon will never gain traction.

Here are five questions to test the quality of your management group:

  1. How many of them visit with their clients, the physicians, in their offices to learn how their department is doing in terms of clinical quality and service?
  2. How many visit patients who were customers of their departments at least three days per week to find out how they were treated by the clinical personnel, technicians or support staff?
  3. How many have regular departmental meetings where there is meaningful discussion on quality, process improvement and patient satisfaction?
  4. How many recommend process or quality changes based on their own research versus waiting for some Vice President to show them the way?
  5. How many have a list of potential candidates for HR/recruiting when a key member of the department leaves?

Within five years we will be in some uncharted waters.  The executive teams will be smaller and each Vice President will have more on his/her plate.  That means that the role of the department director or manager will become more important than ever.  That also means that the quality of these Directors will have to be top flight.  There will be no margin for error.