When the Team is Not Delivering

By: Kriss Barlow | kbarlow@barlowmccarthy.com

“One of my organization’s team members just dropped the ball…” Whether it is an operations lead who fails to follow-up with a doctor or a colleague who failed to meet a promised deadline, it’s frustrating. And while there may be a reason, we all appreciate that customer experience takes a hit. You’d like to call them out for it and I suspect most of us have tried that in an active or passive way without much satisfaction. What’s the alternative?

  1. Inventory the frequency. Ask, “Is it a chronic issue or an outlier?” Consider other times when we failed to honor a promise with this practice- customer. List all that you know in a given time frame (not since ‘93). Reports with numbers get attention in healthcare so if we can quantify the frequency of failure we may expose a pattern.
  2. Learn the customer perception. Listen to gather not just what happened, but also to assess how it made them feel. Physicians often have long memories. Avoid any inclination to justify; just listen and learn. From there you’ll be able to fit the pieces together to craft an action.
  3. Investigate
    • Is there a pattern?
    • Do you have options for an easy fix?
    • Is the issue with a person or a process? Or is it because we’ve got too many work-arounds?
    • Is there commitment (vs. lip service) to improve the team, the process or the individual?
  1. Communicate multiple methods in several different ways to multiple internal audiences. For example,
    • Beyond an email to call out the issue; track and report frequency and response in your monthly report.
    • Let the individuals who have oversight for that area know the repetitive nature of the issue.
    • Put numbers and stories together to get impact. Charts and graphs are marvelous impact tools.
    • Make sure you call out perceived issues as part of your operational readiness so you don’t promise to grow an area when you know there are internal concerns.

While this is tedious at best, work to be positive and use small steps to move the dial. If your tried and true approach is not working, then get creative and find new ways to have an impact. Saying the same thing louder or more often is not going to solve it and it is sooo frustrating!

At the end of the day, most of us crave that trusted relationship with the practices and constituents we serve on both sides. Central to that is our ability to count on our team mates to value their role in our relationship. So it’s all worth it.

No comments