Taking Care of Your People Will Solve Most Organizational Problems!

November 27, 2017 - 2:20pm -- bill.taylor@mul...

Taking Care of Your People Will Solve Most Organizational Problems!

Nearly all of our organizational problems, issues and challenges come from our People Systems… They are quality issues…and quality comes from the quality of our people… Hospices are getting this… 43 people from across the country attended the last annual People Development & the Model program…a few more than we like, but we try to make room! The point is, your People Systems are the most important systems in any organization and any person that says “Our people are our most important asset” and then you see how they attract, select, develop and retain their people…And you go “Whoa! There is a disconnect here!” You can’t do it like the majority of other organizations and get anything other than an average result.  

Why do people come to work at a Hospice?

What are the words they use to describe their “attraction” to this type of work? They use the words “Called” or “Led” or some other Spiritually-oriented language to describe divine guidance to the organization. What are they seeking? What do they want? 

The short answer is that they want more than a job…they want “meaning and purpose.” I have found that people normally do not burn out from hard work, but rather from losing their sense of meaning and purpose in the work. They want to do work that matters. This is how they enter the world of Hospice. They are even willing to take a “pay cut” in order to do this type of work. For some people, this may even make it more “Spiritual” as they believe they are sacrificing for the cause. Hospice people want to FEEL special…chosen…part of a “revolution” or “movement” in healthcare and compassion… Think about it… Hospice is supposed to be a Volunteer-Driven, Spiritual, Holistic form of Managed Care that empowers the caregiver to do significant and meaningful work for their loved one...it is transformative for all involved.  So, most of us probably agree that Hospice people seek “meaning and purpose” right?  And that clinician even seem to be willing to take a “pay cut” to work in Hospice for the sake of the mission.  So what are we doing to nurture this?

Where Do Problems Come From?

Most of the issues in running a Hospice, or really any organization, stem from people issues.  I have found that most people want to do a good job. However, they are FAILED by the processes and structures they are given by the organization. This is why service failures are common in most organizations. In fact, they happen sometimes DAILY if you can get your head around that! People don’t even blink when a complaint or service failure is reported. It is often viewed as “just part of the job” or even “normal!” This is mind-blowing!  The processes and structures of an organization are the means by which predictability and quality are achieved. Therefore…if we want to solve the problems of an organization, we have to address the processes and structures that support our people.

This brings us to the Model…which, if you really break it down, is 100% about processes and structures designed to align with the realities of human behavior as understood. These range from financial processes and structures to the words, phrases, smells, look, inflections, specific actions, sequence and, above all, the FEELINGS that are created with every Visit, Phone Interaction and physical product touched. All simplified and de-complicated to create FOCUS on quality…the basis by which we compete in Hospice… 

What are the issues created by not taking care of our people?

*     Inability to Attract Talent – Talented people are ESSENTIAL! You want to attract the most talented people in a service area.

*     Turnover of Talent/Failure to Retain Talent – Turnover of Talent is the #1 Destroyer of Value. You must retain your Talent!

*     Continual Waste – New people have to be trained if people are constantly leaving the organization. Training is expensive in financial terms as well as in loss of reputation when mistakes and errors occur.

*     Loss of Reputation – This is the price an organization is paying everyday by not committing to Integrity and to Quality… All quality comes from the quality of its People Systems, no more, no less.

*     Inability to Grow – If quality is not high, there is not much to sell. Quality sells.

*     Weakling, Non-Talented, Weenie, Mediocre, Energy-Sucks Remain – You are left with the “leftovers” – the people other organizations don’t want. This is your “peer group.”  

There are probably many more, but this short list is sufficient to get the point. We must FOCUS on our people! Especially our Managers from which 70% of the development of a front-line clinician comes from! This is why MVI has put such enormous resources and effort into developing true professional Hospice Managers. They are “replicators.” Therefore, these Professional Managers must know “how to take care of their people!” 

How Do We Take Care of Our People?

By providing them what you are able…as that is a lot! And what you can provide? You can provide the “conditions for success” or a “life-style” that is highly supportive of your people’s goals and desires. What might this entail?

Provide an Electric, Motivating, Spiritually-Oriented, Life-Changing, Transformative Work Environment! 70% of this comes DIRECTLY from the Immediate Manager! Therefore, an organization must have Talented Managers who understand the HUGE impact their words and actions have on the emotions and feelings of the people they lead and provide a supportive, positive environment where people want to contribute. This is the biggest factor of all. In fact, people will leave a great paying job if they feel they are being mistreated or are led by a crappy Manager. 

Create an atmosphere where they FEEL they are growing and progressing as a person and as a professional! Happiness comes from the feeling of progress! So help people feel happy!

Pay Great! Pay better than your competitors or than other employment alternatives. Let employees control their pay to a large extent! Great pay comes from managing well! And there is certainly more than enough reimbursement in Hospice to pay well! All you have to do is look around a little bit to see the evidence of that!

Eliminate 8-5 work hours for Clinicians! Give people a flexible “life-style!” Why not! We can you know! Also why create “shift-mentalities” when they are unnecessary and lead to poor quality via lack of caseload ownership?

Simplify the EMR! Too many organizations have over-complicated these via customization! Use an economy of activity codes!  Make documentation EASY through simple quantification and use of better written narratives! 

Provide enough time for people to rest, relax, release and reflect on their life. This takes a high-trust culture…with results and commitment to justify this latitude! 

Make Phone and Visit work drastically EASIER by use of IRMs strategically placed in the patient/employee work environment to increase predictability.

Help people “believe” they are working for a World-Class, Outlier organization that is so well managed, it goes “days or weeks” and sometimes thousands of visits” without a complaint, service failure or documentation error. This belief is created by actually achieving this level of quality and not from hype or pretty words… People know if it is BS or not… This level of quality is achieved though highly developed Accountability structures. 

Help people “believe” they have been trained extraordinarily well. Help people believe they have been trained better than in any other organization in their lives!

Help people believe everyone is well-trained! And that it is a peer-group of professionals that really work together as a true interdisciplinary team where 100% of its people can be relied upon to do their jobs to 100% of the Standards on a day-to-day basis.

Provide people Standards, processes and structures that make work EASY!

Remove from Clinical Manager’s job description the need to 1) Monitor Documentation, 2) Monitor Productivity and 3) Annual Reviews. The only known means of doing this is through the Compensation System sensitized to the Standards of the organization.

Reduce the number of meetings throughout the organization. IDTs are to be highly focused, enjoyable and renewing! Meetings can be huge time wasters and demotivates if they are run poorly.

Have “massive” amounts of work done by Volunteers. Shoot for 20-40% of all labor to be done by Volunteers. Hospices are doing this believe it or not! A few around 34%. One at 38%. Another at 46%. One is over 50%! You might want to hug MVI closer on this one as we are part of it! Hospice is a Volunteer-Driven Movement! It is where we came from! And it doesn’t matter if you are a For-Profit or Not-For-Profit. People will give their time to organizations that have sufficiently impacted their lives. It is that simple.

The point is, you can do ALL of these things for your people! Every one of these points is being done NOW by top organizations in our movement! These Hospices have deviated from the “Herd” by choice or circumstance. We have tremendous flexibility in HOW we operate our respective Hospices! We are so fortunate to have a reimbursement system that allows for such flexibility and creativity! The few “constraints” we have provide the fuel to unleash our problem/challenge solving skills!

This is all part of your People System really… Understanding what people desire (whether explicitly expressed or not) and fulfilling these them to the extent possible with the tools and methods that are “known…” The practices have to be “known” (we must be aware of them), otherwise they can’t be employed. In addition to being “known,” they must be operationalized. This takes courage, which comes from the domain of Integrity combined with the domains of Intelligence and Energy… However, Integrity is really where most organizations miss it. They get a “Best Known Practice” intellectually. They normally have the Energy to do it as well… But they “just can’t bring themselves to pull the trigger and do it.” It takes guts to deviate from the “Huddled Masses.” But the truth is that your people WANT you to do this! They want to FEEL they work for an elite organization! They want to work with a WINNER! Your numbers (financial and quality) show if they are working for a winner!

Serving from a place of Love for All ~ Andrew, CEO & Chief Teaching Officer


Program: People Development & the Model:
“I have no words to express my gratitude that our paths crossed. I am inspired and so energized to bring the Model Back to my agency and to develop Hospice Stars!”


Aimee Orr, Willamette Valley Hospice