Engage others in finding ways to improve the process. Hospital-based processes are extremely complex and involve many stakeholders, entities, and professions. A number of pieces usually need attention. As the project progresses, be creative. Solve problems with open discussion and make improvements along the way. Focus on the end goal and suggest, implement, and monitor adjustments. Any sizable project will take time. Hospitalists and other physicians are used to seeing action and immediate reaction: Lasix relieves heart failure; nebulizers relieve shortness of breath. However, projects that really change organizations are long and arduous. They are multimonth and many times multiyear. This is quite a learning curve for many practitioners.
Responsibility #3: Do What you say
We certainly expect this of our leaders; we should expect it of ourselves as followers. It is difficult to lead a project when others on the team are late on deadlines or fail to show up. Volunteer to do only what you can. If you are overextended and don’t complete your part, the project can be crippled. Budget your time and energy to successfully meet expectations. If you get stuck on an assignment, ask for help. Delaying until the project is greatly behind can result in loss of your credibility and the whole project coming to a halt. Identify what you don’t know and identify ways to get the information you need. Many facilities and groups have a number of resources to assist you. They have members with experience expertise and other references available. SHM provides resources and online help at your fingertips.
Responsibility #4: stay the course
As mentioned above, the timelines on many projects take weeks and months. Don’t be discouraged if your progress is not as smooth as expected. Remember, you are remaking healthcare. Focus on your strategic priorities: Are they aligned with your patient care values? If you are off track, reanalyze. Look for the ways that the process is failing and revise the process. Maybe the wrong person is assigned to a task that is not to their strength. Review what you were trying to achieve. Maybe there is another path to get there. Follow directions and processes and support the design.
These are some ideas about the responsibilities of a follower. Keep in mind that others need you to follow just as you need them to lead. Performing as a good follower has some outcomes that help you. You can learn important successes with the right leader. The group’s goals can be accomplished more readily. If you can follow others and assist them in being successful with their goals, you can expect them to follow you in return. Have some faith in your leader; work at being a good follower and then you’ll be leading, too!
I would like to recognize the Petrous Group (www.petrous.net) for sharing their material for this column. TH
Dr. Gorman is the president of SHM.