There is often more than one team in any given hospital. There is the whole hospital team, but then there are teams within the hospital. While the manager or supervisor of that particular team is well meaning in boosting up the morale of their own team, they often do it in a way that devalues the other hospital teams. When the surgery department complains about the general practice team, the manager may respond with, “You know they are disorganized and we can’t do anything about them.” This not only causes a divide between the leadership but also the hospital team. Ultimately the leaders start feeling competitive or ostracized because of the disconnect. How do we bring the leaders back together?
All Leaders Means All Leaders
Too often I see levels of leaders within hospitals and there becomes an exclusion of certain levels from meetings. The most common example of this is when the front office and veterinary technician managers are excluded from meetings with the medical director, practice manager and/or hospital administrator. When we exclude technician and client service representative managers from meetings there becomes a divide in hospital leadership.
Depending on the size of the hospital it may not be possible to invite all the supervisors to a meeting. In some hospitals there might be 20 supervisors. However, managers that oversee a department or a group of individuals need to be included in the same meeting that the medical director is included in. The medical director is overseeing the veterinarians. The technician manager oversees technicians. The client service manager oversees the client service representatives. Why is it then that the technician or front office manager are excluded from meetings with the practice manager? It's hard to talk about team when the leaders of those teams are not present. All leaders means all leaders. Stop excluding each other.
Be sure to have monthly standing meetings for all managers in the hospital. Each manager should have an opportunity to speak and bring up concerns as well as provide input on any new policies and procedures. In too many hospitals manager meetings do not occur. Meetings will allow for better communication and a more cohesive leadership team.
More importantly all leaders need to remember that they are striving for the same hospital goals. Most of the disagreements and communication issues within leadership meetings is because each manager is only advocating for their own individual team. Whenever disagreements do occur ask the question, “Does this benefit the entire hospital or only my team?”
But I Don’t Agree With the Other Leaders
It's imperative that the hospital leadership team is a cohesive united front. Hospital leadership is usually made up of strong personalities. At times there will be disagreement with how to proceed with a policy or procedure within the hospital. That's normal. However, you have to leave your disagreements in the room. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with a change that's being made you must present the same message to every team within the hospital.
Nothing is worse than when a manager disagrees with the other managers and then tells their team about it. This is done usually to inflate one's own ego. You want to make sure that your team knows you didn't have anything to do with the new change that they may struggle with. It wasn't your fault. It was the fault of those other leaders. When you present information like that to your team you cause a worse divide in the leadership all at the expense of saving your own ego.
Every leader in every company, including presidents and CEOs, have had to roll out something they disagreed with. Certainly advocate for your thoughts and opinions but every good leader knows when to compromise. It is imperative that all leaders agree that in the very least they will bring the same message forward to the entire team regardless of their personal views. Agree to carry out the new policy regardless of your personal opinion.
Get to Know Each Other
Right now it’s hard during the time of COVID to host teambuilders, but the best leadership teams are those that truly know each other. When leadership teams trust each other and have respect for each other then they can weather any storm that comes through the hospital. However, if they rarely meet and only push their own team’s agenda then there will continue to be a divide. Get to know every member on the leadership team both professionally and personally. It's important to building a cohesive leadership team.
The best leadership teams not only have each other's backs but also have fun together. If the leaders of the hospital are having fun, the rest of the team usually does as well. Be sure to celebrate the wins of a team together as a hospital. When a client service representative does something extraordinary the whole hospital should celebrate. When a veterinarian has a baby it should be a hospital wide celebration. When a veterinary technician earns their VTS…you got it…the whole hospital should celebrate. The more cohesive the leadership team, the more fun they have together and the more fun the hospital has.