Stretch Your Team to Greatness

By: Susan Boydell | sboydell@barlowmccarthy.com

“By reaching for what appears to be the impossible, we often actually do the impossible. And even when we do not quite make it, we inevitably wind up doing much better than we would have done.” -Jack Welch

We live in a world where much of our success is measured by our ability to achieve goals.  We build our programs to be results-driven.  We hire individuals who are goal-oriented.  And, let’s face it, we spend a lot of time developing and redeveloping dashboards just to show how we did against our goals.

What I’m not too sure about is how much time do we spend thinking about setting goals that will push our teams to greatness.  Notice I didn’t say “greater results.”  Yes, I’m talking about “stretch” goals.  There are a lot of definitions out there for stretch goals, but I like Jack Welch’s definition.  His quote uses language to describe goals that are perceived unattainable.  More specifically, unattainable with existing resources and more importantly, current thinking.  You can’t achieve a stretch goal by doing things the way you’ve always done it.  This is about challenging our teams to do things differently.

There are different levels of stretch goals. For example, an organization might create a huge stretch goal to be the benchmark for physician experience.  Based on how most physicians feel about health systems, that would be a lofty goal and I’m guessing most would think its impossible today.  This might be a good stretch goal for an organization.

When thinking about stretch goals for your physician relations team, consider the following tips to help get you there:

  1. Pick One. This isn’t about creating a whole bunch of stretch goals, but creating one that challenges the team to think differently. Pick an area that is real challenge and seems impossible to achieve.  It could be to reduce leakage from your employed or network physicians.  An actual example might be to go from 40 percent leakage to less than 5 percent in the next three years. Another idea is to increase the number of meaningful conversations with physicians.  Gatekeepers are ferocious and getting quality face time physicians is nearly impossible.
  2. Break It Down. Once you’ve identified your stretch goal, it’s important to break it down into meaningful actions.  This can be a perfect place for creating SMART goals:
    • Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound
  3. Get Innovative. Innovation is required to achieve a stretch goal.  Involve everyone who has a role in achieving the stretch goal.  Challenge your data folks to look at the data differently.  Consider dedicating an entire team meeting or two to thinking outside the box.  Challenge the team to try something new and different.  Take wacky ideas and turn them into actions they can try in the field.
  4. In many cases, teams don’t actually hit the stretch goal but they do make significant improvement. Results that might not have happened if they continued to do things as they always have.  Encourage people to try new things and share stories of what worked and what didn’t.  Never under estimate the value of learning.

Setting stretch goals not only helps push our teams to greatness but they create a culture of innovation. What a great gift to give your team and your organization.  We look forward to hearing about your journey, learnings and results in 2018!