"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

We Can't Help Ourselves

What do the following have in common: Health Care, the Catholic Church, Education and Government?
The answer is that we hold onto low performing staff members far too long.

Yesterday in my blog, I mentioned Quint Studer (author consultant and former hospital CEO) whose company has done work at WMHS in the past.  Quint is an expert on service excellence and leadership with a focus on health care, although he is now consulting outside of health care as well.  Quint spent a considerable amount of time on the issue of low performers and how we don't have the luxury in allowing the low performers to continue in our organizations.   We never really had a place for them; however, we tolerated them over the years.  Based on the demands on hospitals and the increasing complexity of our industry according to Quint, we can barely tolerate middle performers.  

He said that when he was at the Baldridge Award presentation ceremony receiving his award along with a barbecue restaurant in Texas, the owner of the barbecue restaurant was asked what does he do with an employee who doesn't wash his hands.  He answered in his Texas drawl, "I fire them."   Quint's point was look at what we tolerate in health care with our low performers.  

A couple of years ago at WMHS, we asked our department directors to provide what they think is the percentage of low performers at WMHS.  The result of that exercise was 13% or around 300 employees.  We then used that opportunity to identify who they were in the individual departments and to focus our attention on them.  Preferably, work to develop them to at least be middle performers and eventually high performers.  We saw a lot of success with some employees stepping up their performance, others leaving the organization because of too much attention on their individual performance and others being dealt with because of their low performance and other service excellence shortcomings. 

We haven't solved the problem of low performers in its entirety, but we have made great progress.  Maybe in the short term, we can be in better company (no intended disrespect to the Catholic Church and Education; Government is a whole other story) by completely turning the corner in dealing with low performers at WMHS.

Happy Birthday!

As a side, a very happy birthday to my wife, Pamela and former President George H. W. Bush.  We had the opportunity to meet President Bush a number of years ago (see the attached photo).  He was both gracious and charming.  He had a great deal in common with Pamela, who is also gracious and charming.  I have always liked President Bush, but Pamela remains the love of my life.  I hope that both have a wonderful day and a great year!

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