Whether or not we make New Year’s resolutions, most of us find ourselves looking for ways to improve as the new year arrives. If your goal for 2018 is to become an exemplary leader, here are some ideas to help you get there.
1. Support your staff: Hospice work can take its toll. When a staff member has had several deaths in a week, it has an emotional impact. Supporting one another is vital to maintaining emotional stamina. We must treat each other as we treat the patients and families we care for; with great respect, understanding and kindness. Most of all CARE. Care about the human beings offering the service you market, and care from your heart.
2. Get out of your office and interact with staff and patients and families: I get it – there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you have to do as a leader. But unless you have a ground-level view of how things are working (or not) in your organization, how can you manage effectively? The exemplary leader has a very clear view of operations, gleaned from their own observations and interaction with staff, volunteers, patients and families. Ask questions. Strike up a conversation; pitch in and help. Let staff and clients know you’re there and you care.
3. Hire the right person, not the “right now” person: When we’re looking for skilled clinical staff, particularly in areas where there just aren’t that many available candidates, it’s sometimes tempting to hire someone just because you’ve got a gap you need to fill. Don’t! It’s always better to pull staff from other areas to cover until that opening can be filled, rather than just settling for the not-quite-right hire. You will pay for a bad decision later
4. Start every meeting with your Mission: Use the first few minutes of every meeting to tell a story (or ask for one) about someone who’s put in special effort, shown a great can-do attitude, or gone above and beyond in some way to achieve your Mission. This sets a positive tone for what follows, and lets staff know you see and appreciate their hard work and extra efforts.
5. Hospices should be the employer of choice in the community and that begins with making sure that you treat your employees well, that you pay them as well as you can and that your hospice is a great place to work. If you cannot be the highest paying employer, then do the things the other employers cannot do: Talk about the importance of the work that’s been carried out. Be supportive and encouraging of staff. Allow flexible schedules if you can, because many in the “sandwich generation” are caring for both elderly family members and growing children.
6. Celebrate out loud: Whether you’ve hit a goal in your capital campaign, honored a stellar volunteer, or hired a new manager – make sure that the community hears about it. If you don’t toot your own horn, there won’t be any music, so make sure you’re getting your stories out in the local press and on your website.
7. When you’re hunting for that next leader, look beyond the résumé: While experience, education and background are important, the more critical qualities are their character, values, personality, and passion for the work. The impact of making a bad hire at the top of your organization can be devastating. While the costs of losing a "normal" employee are high enough, a 2012 study by the Center For American Progress found that the cost of losing an executive is astronomical -- up to 213 percent of the employee's salary. And that doesn’t take into consideration the damage the wrong hire can do to team morale, to your operations, and to your image and standing in the community.
Welcome to 2018! Make it a great year!