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Leadership Study: Organizational Behaviors that Lead to Success

  • Publication: Studer Group
  • Release Date: May 17, 2018

Studer Group completed a nationwide survey of hospital leaders to determine the extent to which they employ organizational behaviors that we believe will lead to more positive outcomes in the quality of care they provide. The result of this research is strong empirical evidence of the direct correlation between behaviors coached by Studer Group and better outcomes in hospital profitability, clinical quality of care, and patient experience ratings.

Studer Group launched this leadership study to measure the degree that hospitals employ organizational “success factors” identified in a 2005 study that lead to high quality care. We also sought to understand how employment of these factors differ in high and low performing organizations as measured by clinical quality of care and patient experience ratings. The new study adds support to the ideas presented in 2005, and validates principles taught by Studer Group speakers and coaches by providing empirical evidence of the power of our Evidence-Based LeadershipSM (EBL) framework to produce meaningfully better outcomes.

The 2018 study was completed by nearly 400 healthcare chief executive officers and chief operating officers, from 361 different healthcare organizations located in 47 states, ranging in bed size from 4 to 1,528 beds, from both actively coached and non-coached healthcare organizations via an email survey. Findings from this representative sample of healthcare leaders can be generalized to hospitals large and small, urban and rural, across the United States.

Leaders were asked to rate their level of agreement with a series of statements under six categories: Leadership, Vision and Values; Innovation and Agility; Leader Evaluation and Accountability; Training; Communication, Reward and Recognition; and Culture and Teamwork. The survey factors that lead to organizational success were measured with “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” on the Likert scale.

Hospital leaders rated their agreement with organizational “success factor” statements related to levels of innovation, accountability, training, communication, teamwork and leader vision/values at their organization. Overall, the study found that healthcare entities whose leaders most strongly agreed that the statements were true for their organization had:

  • Higher profit margins
  • Better patient experience ratings
  • Better clinical quality of care ratings

The 2018 findings are summarized below:

Key Drivers of the Hospital's Overall Quality of Care (57 Metrics) Rating

  • Employees feel that our organization is a great place to work
  • Collaboration and teamwork are common in our organization
  • When needed, employees are willing to put in the extra effort to get a job done
  • Leader training is conducted at least quarterly for all leaders
  • We are expected to voice our opinions
  • Everyone at my organization is held accountable for results
  • We dedicate adequate time to planning for future changes

Key Drivers of Patient Experience Ratings

  • Employees feel that our organization is a great place to work
  • We dedicate adequate time to planning for future changes
  • When needed, employees are willing to put in the extra effort to get a job done
  • Leader training is conducted at least quarterly for all leaders
  • Leaders have the skills they need to succeed
  • We adapt well to changes that affect how we operate
  • Departments have good working relationships
  • Employees believe "Putting patient care at the center of the decision-making process" is conceptually the right thing to do
  • Staff share the goals of organizational leaders
  • Everyone at my organization is held accountable for results
  • It is safe to take well thought-out risks, even if we might fail
  • We use an objective leader evaluation process to measure leader performance
  • Collaboration and teamwork are common in our organization
  • Hospitals that agree “We dedicate adequate time to planning for future changes” have higher patient experience ratings
  • Hospitals where leaders agree “Departments have good working relationships” have higher patient experience ratings

 Key Drivers of Hospital Net Operating Profit Margin

  • Leader training is conducted at least quarterly for all leaders
  • We use an objective leader evaluation process to measure leader performance
  • Leaders have the skills they need to succeed
  • Everyone at my organization is held accountable for results
  • Leaders share a unified vision
  • Leaders clearly outline and communicate expectations
  • Departments have good working relationships
  • Hospitals where leaders agree “We use an objective leader evaluation process to measure leader performance” have higher profit margins
  • Hospitals where leaders agree “Leaders share a unified vision” have higher profit margins
  • Hospitals where leaders agree “Everyone at my organization is held accountable for results” have higher profit margins
  • Hospitals where leaders agree “Leaders have the skills they need to succeed” have higher profit margins

 Key Drivers of “Employees feel that our organization is a great place to work”

  • Collaboration and teamwork are common in our organization
  • When needed, employees are willing to put in the extra effort to get a job done
  • Departments have good working relationships
  • Leaders clearly outline and communicate expectations
  • We adapt well to changes that affect how we operate
  • Everyone at my organization is held accountable for results
  • Success is celebrated
  • High performers are recognized and rewarded
  • Staff share the goals of organizational leaders
  • We dedicate adequate time to planning for future changes
  • Employees believe "Putting patient care at the center of the decision-making process" is conceptually the right thing to do
  • We use an objective leader evaluation process to measure leader performance
  • Leaders have the skills they need to succeed

Studer Group partners agreed significantly more often than non-partners with the following statements:

  • Leader training is conducted at least quarterly for all leaders
  • We use an objective leader evaluation process to measure leader performance
  • High performers are recognized and rewarded
  • A significant amount of an individual leader's compensation is tied directly to achieving results
  • We dedicate adequate time to planning for future changes
  • Leaders have the skills they need to succeed
  • Everyone at my organization is held accountable for results
  • Leaders clearly outline and communicate expectations

The Alliance for Health Care Research, a former research arm of Studer Group, completed a study in 2005 to understand the most influential leadership “success factors.” The study titled, “Organizational Change Processes in High Performing Organizations: In-Depth Case Studies with Health Care Facilities,” asked 47 leaders from seven healthcare organizations, who Studer Group was coaching at the time, open-ended questions with the purpose of understanding:

  • The most influential factors in their success
  • Barriers they faced and how they overcame them
  • How they harvested the energy from their successes to propel them forward
  • In retrospect, what they could have done better or differently
  • The most significant changes observed in the hospitals’ cultures
  • The most significant changes experienced in working relationships among departments and employees
  • What percentage of ‘hardwiring’ they have achieved and their plans to maintain or improve this level

 The 2005 findings are summarized below:

What were the most influential factors in their successes?

  1. Executive and senior leadership commitment
  2. Leadership evaluation and accountability
  3. Leadership Development Institutes (LDIs) and training
  4. Communication and employee forums
  5. Knowing this was the ‘right’ thing to do

What barriers did they face and how were they overcome?

  1. Employees believing this was the ‘latest program of the month’ and it too would soon pass
  2. Inertia; accepting the status quo as ‘good enough’ and resisting change
  3. Accountability
  4. Managers not having the necessary skills or not having the right leaders in place

What could they have done better?

  1. Accountability
  2. Involve lower level employees earlier in the process
  3. Develop key words that fit the environment and employees

Changes they have noticed most in the hospitals’ cultures:

  1. The environment is much friendlier and helpful
  2. Employees feel it is a great place to work; they have pride
  3. Employees are happier
  4. There is less turnover; more stability in employment
  5. Employees walk visitors to their destinations

Changes they have noticed most in employees’ and departments’ working relationships:

  1. There is more collaboration and teamwork
  2. Departments rate each other on performance and respect each other
  3. Departments solve problems collaboratively before they get out of hand

If you have questions about the study, or if you would like to learn more about how Studer Group can help improve results in these areas, email partnerships@studergroup.com.

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