Posted December 11, 2017

COACHING MINUTE: Engaging Leaders in Goal-Setting

By Kelly Dickey

As organizations mature their goal-setting competencies, they often struggle to keep leaders engaged. It’s common for our Studer Group coaching team to hear from partner organizations that would like to “spice up” their goal-setting. We recommend that organizations find ways to make goal-setting interesting, so leaders remain committed to moving the organization’s results forward.

Recently, the Leadership Development Team of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) in Boone, NC, took special steps to make goal-setting engaging, effective and fun by giving their quarterly training a “Court is in Session” theme.

The legal theme was woven throughout the day. To start, attendees received a summons to attend training. When entering the session, leaders sat at tables decorated with legal pads, gavel pencils and scales. After a goal-writing review, attendees swore an oath to only write SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goals. While the atmosphere was playful, the day was carefully planned with a mix of instruction, hands-on training and working sessions to help leaders sharpen their goal-writing skills.

Amy Crabbe, Senior Vice President, People Services, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, is arrested for writing a “criminal” goal.

Amy Crabbe, Senior Vice President, People Services, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, is arrested for writing a “criminal” goal.

Representatives of each pillar - Service, Quality, Growth, Finance and People - presented their goals, weaving legal language throughout. While they delivered the information lightheartedly, each champion was serious about communicating the “why” behind the metrics attached to each goal. Explaining why each goal matters and what the outcome will do to improve patient care is critical to engaging everyone in the success of achieving the goals.

The pillar champions, who sat in a “jury box,” answered leaders’ questions and approved the final goals. There was also “cross-pollination,” a term ARHS uses for cross-departmental collaboration. Departments reviewed goals together to ensure there were no conflicts. At the end of the one-day session, managers walked away with finalized and approved goals and were given two weeks to enter their goals into Leader Evaluation Manager®, Studer Group’s accountability software.

ARHS is getting results from its focus on goal setting. Employee engagement rose from the 19th percentile in 2014 to the 86th in 2015, with sustained results. Also, operating margins rose due to managed expenses and increased revenue.

At ARHS, margins rose due to managed expenses and increased revenue. At ARHS, employee engagement rose from the 19th percentile in 2014 to the 86th in 2015.

Although it takes a lot of work, says Amy Crabbe, leader of the Leadership Development team, “the energy we put into planning is worth it.” After each training, the LDI team wants leaders to be able to say, “this was worth my time.”

At Studer Group, we recommend that teams hold annual sessions to give leaders dedicated time and access to subject matter experts to finalize their yearly goals.

Studer Group would like to thank Amy Crabbe, Senior Vice President, People Services, of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and the rest of the Leadership Development team, -- Kathy Berlinghoff, Crystal Blankenship, Robin Fox, Kenietha Presnell, Emily Roberts and Janet Streett --, for providing information about their best practices for planning training sessions.

As a coach specialist, Kelly Dickey has been instrumental in leveraging the topic of accountability inside of Studer Group and with Studer Group's partners in the U.S., Australia and Canada. With her primary focus on national and regional systems, Kelly uses her passion to help organizations deliver on their strategies and fulfill their missions by aligning expectations from the executive leadership team to frontline leaders.

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