CASE STUDY (part three): Showing Employees How to Get Along

You’ll remember, after reading part one, that as a result of verbal feedback from Patient Care’s referral partners and data obtained from patient surveys, the CEO learned that the behavior of his employees was having a negative impact on Patient Care’s image as an organization.  Even worse, it was affecting the bottom line.

  • New Patient Enrollment Was Down (reduced income)
  • Patient Cancellations Were Too High (reduced income)
  • Employee Turnover and Absenteeism Were Up (increased expense)

Then, in part two, I explained that in order to fix Patient Care’s image problem, it was crucial we begin with management.  Why?  Because I am a firm believer the behavior of employees is a direct reflection of the way in which management interacts with them.

Those of you who are parents know that the way in which you speak to and interact with your children has a direct impact on how they turn right around and speak to and interact with others.  This holds true for managers and their employees, as well.

If employees are not getting along and working cohesively together, there’s a very good chance their management team isn’t leading by example.

So, we began with management first.  Then, when finished, we moved on to Patient Care’s employees.  And yes, if you are wondering, Patient Care’s management team participated in the employee sessions.  Their presence and support was crucial to our success.  In fact, Patient Care’s CEO participated in EVERY employee session!!!

Learning Objective: Enhance Workplace Relations
To strengthen patient relationships, we first must be sure strong, healthy relationships exist among employees.  Strengthening their relationships and improving communication will result in a more productive and cohesive work environment where…

  • everyone is getting along,
  • there is an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust, and
  • disagreements and conflict are handled with class and professionalism.

Prior to attending, Patient Care’s entire team was asked to complete an online Everything DiSC Workplace Profile®.

This personalized assessment provided each employee with insight into his or her own workplace behaviors and helped him or her better understand the workplace behaviors of colleagues so that they can avoid conflict, connect better (with colleagues and patients) and improve the quality of their interactions.

Face-to-Face Workshops
Using a series of face-to-face, on-sight workshops, we slowly and methodically discussed the following:

STEP ONE: The first step in connecting better with others is to become more self-aware of how others are experiencing us.  Therefore, our first step was to help Patient Care’s employees better understand their workplace behavioral style and how impacts others. 

PRIMARY LEARNING POINT: The combination of what we prioritize and fear influences the way we work and interact with others.  In other words, our priorities and fears DRIVE our behavior!

For example, 15% of Patient Care’s employees have a primary D or Dominance behavioral style.

They prioritize results, action and challenge.  They push for results, show decisiveness, display confidence, convey urgency and aren’t afraid to speak up when there are problems.  They fear failure, loss of control, appearing week and being taken advantage of.  When faced with conflict they become autocratic and demanding.

That said, it is important that the D Behavioral Style knows that it’s adventurous and assertive nature is often perceived as (or misunderstood to be) rude, unfriendly, pushy, intimidating, strong-willed and too competitive by those without a primary or secondary D Style.

STEP TWO: The second step in connecting better with others is to become more aware of the priorities and fears that drive other people’s behavior.  Sometimes they are similar to ours and sometimes they are different.  Therefore, our next step was to help Patient Care’s employees better understand their colleagues’ workplace behavioral styles.  Rather than simply find a way to tolerate them, we wanted them to respect and appreciate their colleagues’ priorities, motivators, stressors and fears.

To facilitate this discussion, we used something called Comparison Reports which illustrated the similarities and differences between two employees and provided valuable tips on how they could increase the effectiveness of their individual communication.

PRIMARY LEARNING POINT: Differences and similarities in what we prioritize and fear can sometimes create challenges to connecting and getting along with everyone in our work environment.

For example, 10% of Patient Care’s employees have a primary I or Influence behavioral style.

They prioritize enthusiasm, action and collaboration.  While the D Style also prioritizes action, it important that he or she understand and respect the fact that the I Style prefers to work in an enthusiastic and collaborative work environment rather than the challenging and results-focused environment preferred by the D Style.

STEP THREE: Once Patient Care’s employees better understood their work behavioral style and the behavioral styles of their colleagues, the third and final step was to show them how to connect and communicate effectively with everyone including those individuals who have completely different behavioral styles.

A well-rounded team almost always includes a healthy balance of all four behavioral styles (DiSC).  Each style has value and brings something very different to the table.  Therefore, it was imperative that employees understood the key to success was knowing how to work cohesively with every style.

(Note: If you want to boost your personal magnetism, this is one of the best ways to do it! Learn how to quickly and easily adjust your approach when interacting with the various behavioral styles.)

PRIMARY LEARNING POINT: To work more effectively with others, we sometimes have to bridge differences in style preferences and priorities.  This doesn’t mean changing who we are, but rather being willing to adjust our approach to accommodate the preferences of others.

For example, 68% of Patient Care’s employees have a primary S or Steadiness behavioral style.

They prioritize support, stability and collaboration.  They are patient listeners and excellent team players, and know how to accommodate different people and ideas.  They are often described as cautious, reflective, calm and tactful.  However, just like the other styles, they have fears, as well.  They do not like rapid change, loss of harmony and upsetting others.

To avoid conflict and improve the quality of their interactions, we recommended that employees with a primary I Style adapt the following strategies when problems need to be solved with the S Style:

  • Keep in mind their more cautious approach may be a good counterbalance for your spontaneity.
  • Remember they are sometimes hesitant to speak up.  Be sure to proactively encourage them to share their concerns and do this often.
  • Weigh the evidence and information carefully before moving too quickly on new ideas.  Be sure to discuss the impact that new ideas and changes will have on team members and company processes.

This always works best when both styles are willing to slightly adjust their approach to accommodate each other’s style preferences.

New Patient Enrollment Is Back Up!
When speaking with John, Patient Care’s CEO, he proudly announced they are at capacity!  Every patient slot for every day of the week is spoken for.  Physician referrals have improved and very few patients are leaving once they’ve been referred to Patient Care.

Patient Cancellations and Employee Turnover and Absenteeism Are On Their Way Back Down!
Behavioral changes take time.  Trial & error and trial & success are simply part of the process.  So as Patient Care continues to make this new way of interacting with each other part of its natural behavior, we’ll continue to see patient cancellations along with employee turnover and absenteeism decline.

A BIG THUMBS UP goes to Patient Care for realizing employee behavior was negatively impacting both their corporate image and bottom line.  We give them a DOUBLE THUMBS UP for taking the necessary steps to improve it!

(Note: For confidentiality purposes, we changed the name of our client to Patient Care, Inc.)

What thoughts or questions do you have for us?  We’d love to hear them.

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