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Create a healthcare environment where employees thrive

March 19th, 2014

by Scott Kashman

What does it take to create an environment where people thrive? In many ways, we all know, although it's often an afterthought. Every organization has goals. Smart leaders focus on their organizations' customers and how to continually improve. It takes a deeper, more optimistic, sincere and caring commitment to truly understand what creates that connection and culture to engage others.

A couple of real-life examples hit home. Recently, I participated in a local half marathon race. While I was not physically conditioned to hit my personal best, I hoped to still enjoy myself and have a good race.

I have a few people who stand out and mentally push me at every local race. I noticed one of them, "Aob" (name disguised for confidential sake) was not racing. He was cheering runners on a few miles into the race. In three races, the two of us had less than 5 seconds between our finishes after a total of 19.3 miles. In some ways, I was disappointed he was not racing.

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When I turned the corner around mile nine or 10, things changed. Guess who I noticed to my left? You guessed it: Aob. Like an old Seinfeld episode between Jerry and Newman, I proclaimed, "Hello Aob." I heard, "Hello Scott ... I am your spectator."

He said he knew the last three to four miles were mentally grueling; therefore, he would be my spectator and push me to the end. I thanked him, then asked him to run ahead without me. He declined. I must say, I did not like him for a while.

At the end, he was near the finish line screaming--or as he probably thought, cheering me on--until I finished. My calves throbbed and I was exhausted, but I pushed hard until the end. I left nothing on the field that day. Aob helped me reach my full potential, and, in turn, I helped other racers as they crossed the finish line (e.g., getting drinks or food if they looked dehydrated).

Then last week, our helathcare system pulled together a value stream mapping using lean methodology. The team focused on pre-procedure testing (PPT). In one instance, these individuals knew each other personally. They worked together for three days to understand their current state, create the future state and determine what obstacles to remove to close the gap on the future state. Throughout that time frame, they got to know each other in a more meaningful way.

The participants provided different perspectives over those three days. The energy was incredible--everyone concentrated on one thing--the future state. They brought out the best in each other and as an organization, we benefited. One person thought it would be more about "do more with less." She found out she was able to do less non-valued tactics with more time to take care of her patients. I wish we could bottle it up and distribute to everyone.

Your full potential isn't many years out--you could reach your full potential this year, month, day or even at this moment. By doing so, you help others do the same and create an environment for all to thrive. That is the impact we could have every moment and every day in healthcare.

This does not mean losing sight of the main goals. On the contrary, it's so much more meaningful, and the measurable results will absolutely follow. Congratulations to our PPT team; thank you Aob--you all bring out the best in people.

What are you doing to create an environment for your patients, families, employees, physicians and volunteers to thrive?

Scott Kashman serves as the Chief Administrative Officer of Cape Coral Hospital, part of the Lee Memorial Health System in southwest Florida.

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