Posted February 03, 2011

Skills for a New Economy: A Message to All Employees

By Quint Studer

We are living and working in tough times. The healthcare industry is changing, budgets are shrinking, and a national emphasis on quality means our outcomes need to keep getting better and better.

Even organizations with a strong culture and talented employees can't afford to relax. There is an unprecedented need for excellence at every level, every time.

What does that mean for individuals? It means every employee needs to consistently show his or her value—to bosses, to coworkers, and to patients.

Here's the message leaders need to convey to staff members: To gain the sustainable excellence we'll need to meet the challenges that lie ahead, we all need to take ownership of our individual roles and our organization's mission.

So how can an employee show value and do his or her best possible work every time? Here are a few insights and suggestions to share with staff:

Hone Your Ability to Transfer Your Value across the Organization.

As the external environment gets more complex, an individual's ability to survive and succeed is directly related to the ability to connect the dots, show insight, and communicate well with others. It's important to show value to peers and leaders, inside and outside of your department.

Here's how:

  • Understand the group you support. Know your audience. It's important that we all learn to manage our time with consideration to the time of those we work with.
  • Have a nose for money and opportunity. Be efficient. Look for opportunities and be known as a problem solver inside the company.
  • Periodically attend other department meetings. It's amazing how a different perspective changes the way we view things. Not only does this help us understand how what we do affects others, a fresh pair of problem-solving eyes in the group may help resolve the problem.
  • Offer insight. Be an active participant and share key learnings with those not in the meeting.
  • Connect what you do to revenue. While it isn't possible to do with every job, most positions do connect to revenue directly or indirectly. Understanding this and being able to articulate it can help show value.
  • Understand the external environment and the need for a culture of always. Knowing the state of our industry, it's important to create a culture of always that constantly implements best practices—every time, on every occasion, without exception.
  • Step outside your comfort zone. Sometimes people are too close to a challenge to see a solution. A fresh perspective—yours—can help others in the organization "connect the dots" in a new way. Being willing to boldly offer insights from an "outsider" point of view is a great way to show individual value.

Own Your Professional Development.

When we make a conscious effort to learn new things, professional development happens organically. Seek out structured professional development and training while keeping in mind that some of the most effective growth happens in day-to-day interactions. Here's how to make it happen:

  • Evaluate your personal brand. Do you like what you see? If not, it's time to make adjustments. If you do, it's time to take your personal brand to the next level. It's important for employees to be self-aware and to get their unique talents out there.
  • Search out best practices and use them. Studer Group has spent years inside our National Learning Lab of nearly 800 healthcare organizations researching, harvesting, and refining the best ideas for maximizing human potential. 
  • Take constructive criticism well. Honest feedback is a critical part of professional development. Think carefully about how to respond when feedback that is less than positive comes in.
  • Duplicate yourself. Mentor and teach whenever possible. Not only is it good for the organization (it frees you up for other things), it is incredibly rewarding.

The tips noted here focus on an individual's personal value, brand, and development. In Skills for a New Economy, Part Two, we will focus on how each employee can take these skills to the whole company through maximizing profitability and communication.


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