Vision Accomplished: The Journey to Engagement and Buy-In
As leaders, we know where we are headed. We’ve led the brainstorming and late-night meetings to articulate a compelling vision and big, bold goals.
We also know that what follows is the real work.
Because going from having a vision to your team understanding, owning and achieving the vision can be a massive climb. As you pack your gear for the ascent, keep these strategies in mind:
Tell a Story About Where You Are Headed and Why
People want to understand the “why” behind what they are being asked to do, especially when change is hard. It’s essential that the patient transport team and anesthesiology group alike understand where the system is headed and can articulate their role.
When building a story, use the narrators that matter most. For instance, direct testimonials from peers about a new way of working are far more powerful than an executive decree. Spotlight team members pioneering the path forward, and more are likely to follow.
Be cognizant that even the best story doesn’t do anything if it’s not delivered properly. Know that teams need to hear from leadership first – not Facebook – about major changes that impact them.
Connect the Dots
Make it clear how each major change, from closing a service line to opening a new building, is connected to the underlying strategy. Hard choices will be easier to understand if you’ve built trust and a track record of telling your team what to expect and why. People may not like certain changes, but they are more likely to partner with leadership if they have a clear understanding of how you are investing, evolving and growing. The alternative is change fatigue and burnout.
Start building early so you have plenty of time to ask your team members about how they are feeling along the way. You can bet your team is talking about what’s underway, but are you and your team benefiting from those conversations? Listening and sharing back what you hear help builds the trust that is essential for new ways of working to take root.
This is “authentic listening.” It requires:
- Being completely mentally engaged in conversations and not distracted by your phone.
- Taking advantage of moments in elevators and the hallway to have brief check-ins that show you’ve been paying attention.
- Maintaining strong eye contact, asking questions and responding to the answer you get (not the answer you expected or wanted).
We advise our clients to gather team members in-person and through quick pulse surveys to 1) measure and discuss their understanding of the current vision and strategy and 2) keep an eye on hot spots as new initiatives are planned and launched. Using listening sessions as regular touch points and sending follow-up summaries of what you are hearing, builds a sense of community and momentum.
Define “Leader” as Broadly as Possible
The success or failure of your vision comes down to the people doing the work. You must engage your entire organization to go from vision to strategy to execution. Therefore, you need to have leaders at every level. Reset your thinking so that the front line – managers and directors – is the first group you consider. Including all levels of leadership signals the important role you expect everyone to play when leading change on the ground.
Equip all Leaders to Be a Part of the Story
When we slow down to include and inform leaders along the way, they become ambassadors for the change we are creating. Keeping people in the loop can be a challenge, and skillsets vary within a team, but leaders can only guide their people if they know what’s happening and why. Equip them by:
- Hosting a summit to launch a new vision and provide hands-on skill building.
- Committing to regular, concise executive emails to ensure everyone feels comfortable sharing the nuts and bolts of major initiatives.
- Gathering your team in-person to share announcements and answer questions.
- Articulating how you expect leaders to connect with their teams
Habits like these can engrain a culture of conversation and stop the tendency to talk at, not with, your people.
Make the Hard Choices
You’re no stranger to hard choices. Encourage yourself to be clear about when your leadership team gets it right—and when they don’t. Remove leaders from the organization who don’t champion the values and attitude your bold vision requires. The respect earned from team members when you choose to remove human obstacles is immense.
Celebrate Along the Way
Our current healthcare landscape demands massive change. Just thinking about what’s required can be exhausting. Multi-prong strategies are necessary but can be overwhelming. As you achieve progress, do more than talk about it. Celebrate what you have achieved.
If you tend to relentlessly focus on results, this may sound indulgent. But shared celebration can accelerate team work and re-energize your team as the next big hurdle looms. To do this:
- Measure and share progress regularly.
- Interact with and thank the people doing the work.
- Revisit award programs, ensuring that they invoke pride, not eye rolls.
- Kick off meetings with words of gratitude and ask your teams to reflect on points of pride amidst the chaos.
As you ponder bold visions that require big change, slow down and humanize what’s happening before you tack the next Gantt chart to the wall. Explicitly define how these changes will affect people within your organization and take off the rose-colored glasses when you do. Acknowledge that change is hard. Tell the story about what your community counts on you to deliver. Celebrate the dedicated team members who bring your vision to life, listen to their challenges and be willing to pivot along the way. Choose courage and kindness, coupled with bold expectations and a pragmatic view of the world today, and you’ll find a better way to bring your vision to life.