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Time Management

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Companies routinely squander their most precious resource the time of their managers and clinical teams

A few simple changes in the way behavioral health top management and clinical teams set agendas and structure meetings can make an enormous difference in organizational efficiency and effectiveness. And once members of these Teams get the basics right, they can make fundamental changes in the way they work together. Policies and strategy making can be readily transformed from a series of fragmented and unproductive events into a streamlined, effective series of coordinated decisions aimed at competitive advantage.

Research by Harvard’s School of Business has shown many management teams spend too much time discussing issues that have no direct impact on valued goals and objectives. As a direct result, few meetings ever produce the strategic quality decision-making required for superior clinical and financial performance outcomes.

Because most meetings generally lack focus on the operations strategic goals and objectives, leaving staff with the general conclusion: they are  amorphous events never producing tangible results. Even with meetings that do produce decisions it’s hard to make them stick. Once the meeting ends participants often take away different interpretations of the group’s decisions. It is important to keep everyone’s eyes on a goals oriented horizon and not stumbling over their own feet. Delays should be viewed as the worst forms of denial and avoided if possible. Minutes should include a decision timetable and identified supervisors who are responsible for objectives, so items clear through the process as quickly as possible.every-staff-meeting-represents-a-significant-expenditure-of-organization-resources.jpg

Key issues managers should address when reviewing time management:

  1. Length of time spent in leadership and team educational meetings? As an example, utilizing costly Clinical Staff time to engage in re-writing Policy Manuals without fully understanding Accreditation Standards is wasteful. Varying types of poorly led committees approaches almost always leads to staff frustration usually caused by endless changes in direction.
  2. Are the agenda’s for staff meetings sent out in advance and are they focused and disciplined enough to be useful? Who is assigned leadership responsibilities for the team’s agenda and will high value, designated priorities be addressed? Are staff committee team recommendations for corrective action been initiated in a timely manner? How is this information being tracked and followed-up?
  3. How much actual time is now being placed on reviewing operational departmental goals, objectives and the strategies necessary to achieving them? Is the management team reviewing the organizations present performance measures and outcome data really making the strategic decisions?
  4. Initial analysis of both the Management and Clinical Staff Committees often don’t appear to be structured in a manner capable of producing real decisions. Grinding away on fruitless projects sometimes appears to be an endless mission in futility.
  5. From past survey experiences, we have found most management meetings are not necessarily called for the purpose of making a decision rather their called for the purposes of “information sharing”, group input”, or “group discussion”.
  6. One recommendation is to deal with daily Clinical issues separately from Management planning and strategy development. Most successful health care companies hold separate meetings for each purpose. This approach prevents day to day operations from dominating team meetings and frees up times for important strategy debates.

Other time management considerations:

  1. As with most team meetings, the focus must necessarily be on decisions not endless discussions.
  2. Having MEANINGFUL agendas focused on specific people assigned key priorities, with time limits necessarily keeps the emphasis on positive actions aimed at achieving objectives.
  3. Somebody in leadership, preferably the CEO needs to regularly measure the real value of key items on meeting agendas. High value items should rise to the top of meetings and should defined as critical time oriented items driving operations performance.
  4. Getting issues off the agenda as quickly as possible ensures a sense of progress towards objectives.
  5. Real Choices in the decision-making process should be put on the table. With the clock ticking the most important requirement is to present realistic options. Having viable alternatives is invariably a winning strategy for moving the ball towards the goal line.
  6. Teams can determine whether their on task by asking themselves:
    • Do we have the facts correct or are we deluding ourselves?
    • What’s the Return on Investment for working on these issues?
    • Have we really reviewed the Financial & Strategic alternatives fully?
    • Will these decisions aid directly in achieving our Strategic Plans?
    • How quickly can we implement this decision
    • How do we gain staff support to improve our ability to manage time?