With our eyes eagerly set on the future, many HTM professionals are thinking about how they are going to continue to re-tool their programs to align with their vision and better support their organizations. Our goals may look something like – “become my own service line,” “re-organize our support of high-tech, high-cost equipment in a radically more cost-effective way,” or “secure the training budget I’ve requested to continue to develop my team.”
I’ve heard time and time again from HTM professionals that they are frustrated by not being able to take their program or their personal development to the next level. They feel that if their leadership could only understand how innovative their ideas were that they could completely transform the landscape of their organization and their support of it. People have reached out to me at their wit’s end wondering how they can change their program, how they can garner their leadership’s support and how to keep on trucking when times get hard. I’ve broken down my top three tips.
GET SOME COMFY RUNNING SHOES
While we could all likely benefit from some more running, I more so mean that your relationship with your leadership team is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m often contacted by individuals who have been in their positions for less than a year who feel like they just can’t get leadership buy-in. The reality is your leadership views you and your success as a body of work over a period of time.
The good news is that not one single incident can make or break this relationship. Remember the equation for work? Work equals force multiplied by distance.
The bad news is your worth or work output is evaluated by consistent force over a time, you can put in more force over a shorter period of time to get to a valued place with your leadership more quickly, but there is still a force and time element to this relationship.
If you aren’t there with your leadership yet, write out a plan as to how you can use this year to enhance your work output and value to your leadership. Think, sustained effort and performance over a period of time, intermixed with periods of high-level effort with big bang for your organization in shorter sprints. For example, ensuring that all of your metrics on your balanced scorecard and your customer satisfaction exceed targets all year as well as integrating your staff into special projects that require additional work. For example, being key team members on rolling out a new EHR, being project managers on a new technology that will allow you to provide different services to patients, etc. Ultimately, consistency, quality and enhanced output of your work product builds your relationship with your leadership team.
GET COMFORTABLE WITH FAILURE
Nobody necessarily loves to fail, but if you are really going to change processes and do things differently, you will fail – there is no question about it. In actuality some of my biggest failures in my career have been the catalysts for big positive changes. Your leaders will also watch what you do when you fail. A person’s true character will show in times of distress and this will let others know that you are dependable when all else fails.
A common question that I get is about building your own service line or re-branding your HTM program and how to have your leadership be open to the concept. In my executive role, there are days where a service may have a 15-minute meeting with me at 3 p.m. and I may have been going since 7 a.m. and maybe had a few jellybeans and coffee to eat all day. You may have a great idea, but I simply don’t have the bandwidth (or it isn’t the most urgent thing at that time) for me to invest in at the executive level. Therefore, I may or may not be able to react positively.
You need to know your leadership team and their style and be able to read when it is a good time to pitch your idea. This also may take a few sessions or various discussions to break the ice. If you fail in getting the outcome you want the first time around, you will always be able to knock on the door again at a later time.
When you do have the opportunity, make sure you have all the data needed. Be prepared, hit the high points in a concise manner and let your leadership ask additional questions, if needed.
You have to take your failures less personally and look at them as opportunities to refine your goals and what you are asking for. You also have to allow yourself time to recover from your failures. Simply ignoring it and moving on doesn’t necessarily allow you to learn.
I, as a rule of thumb, allow myself two days to deal with big professional let-downs. In these two days, I give myself the grace to do whatever I need to process what happened. This may mean I work until midnight refining my goal or this may mean I take a mental health morning off. Whatever it means for you, ensure that you allow yourself to do that.
Once you’ve done this, instead of getting into martyr mode, try to reframe why you are not able to achieve your goals. Ask for feedback on your delivery or what you could do better. Are your wants for your program in alignment with the organization’s goals or your boss’ needs? If not, use feedback to better align them.
A common way that I use to help myself do this is asking myself or my leadership team the following: “OK, X didn’t happen the way I anticipated. This is still a goal of mine, what do I do between now and the next time I ask this again that makes this a yes next time?” By doing this, you can really challenge your pre-conceived notions and garner the feedback necessary to achieve your ultimate goal. This will also allow you to get out of your own way. Digging in your heels almost never gets you in good graces. It makes you look like a poor team member that cannot be counted on when things don’t go exactly your way.
Best of luck in all your endeavors!
Jennifer DeFrancesco is a certified clinical engineer and certified healthcare technology manager. She is the VISN 10 Chief Biomedical Engineer which serves 11 hospitals in three states – Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. She is currently detailed as the associate director of the Dayton VA Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio.
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