by Mike Monahan, RN, MEd
Part Four: Don’t Treat Them All the Same
In Part Three of this series, we discussed how to Build a Winning Team. In this article, we discuss key issues behind treating healthcare staff the same, and identify ways you can address these and encourage a culture of accountability.
Historians and political scientists agree that the decline and fall of Communism was in large part due to the economic impact of treating all workers alike. No special recognition for top performance and no consequences for poor performance led to no better than “Average” performance in all work endeavors.
U.S. hospitals are struggling with the same issues! At Strategic Programs, Inc., our research shows that one of the top 5 reasons staff leave their jobs is a failure of managers to hold coworkers accountable for their performance.
When presented with this data, it is common for hospital managers to blame HR or imagined privacy policies. Managers may claim they are dealing with poor performers, but are unable to share interventions with staff that remain unaware of manager actions. Focus groups with hospital staff, however, tell a deeper story. RN’s, and other clinical and administrative staff routinely report that:
- They are aware of who and who doesn’t perform well while their supervisors don’t.
- Poor performing staff receive the same promotions, merit pay increases and day-to-day feedback as better performers do.
- Performance metrics can be misleading. Team-based metrics may let poor performers hide from appropriate scrutiny. Individual metrics may hold good performers responsible for the actions of many that “Touch” the patient.
High performance requires individual and team accountability. Leaders need to:
- Be clear on expectations.
- Know who is performing well and who is not, and respond accordingly.
- Give regular feedback – positive and negative.
- Treat everyone respectfully, but differently according to performance.
HR and senior leaders can help by letting staff know that distinguishing behavior is desirable. Distinguishing between poor, average and top performers will incent those with an inclination to do better to try harder and move your organization towards a culture of excellence and achievement. Don’t treat them all the same!