We all know that good bosses can make a world of difference in our professional lives. A great boss can help you find solutions where you would normally only see problems, and an incompetent boss can make driving to work without bursting into tears feel like a feat of cinematic proportions.
I think it’s fair to say that this is even truer when you work a high-stress job, and any position in healthcare qualifies as high-stress in my book. Among other reasons, this is why it’s super important for healthcare managers to take their leadership positions seriously, and adopting the behaviors of “superbosses” is one way to do that.
Sidney Finkelstein, the Steven Roth Professor of Management at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, has written at length about how adopting the habits of “superbosses” can help managers in all industries, including healthcare, to ensure that their organization is known as a “Best Place to Work.” So whether you just started managing a new team, or you’ve been managing entire departments for years, you should read on.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that the personal well-being or professional success of every healthcare employee hinges solely on the habits of their bosses. We’re all responsible for our own career advancement, personal lives, and workplace behavior. However, it’s no secret that job dissatisfaction, burnout, and turnover disproportionately affect healthcare employees in general and nursing staff in particular; so it’s not unreasonable to expect healthcare leaders to do whatever they can to combat these industry-wide concerns.
The thing is, no matter how crucial the healthcare industry is, it’s also one of the most physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding fields to work in. Although the U.S. can boast the largest nursing population in the world, (we currently stand at around 3.5 million) understaffing continues to be a significant source of stress for hospitals and health systems nationwide. The nursing shortage and the subsequent state of understaffing are undoubtedly part of the reason why nurses are two times more likely than the general population to experience depression, and it might have something to do with the statistic that one in five new nurses quit their first job within a year of being hired.
The bottom line is, nurses, doctors, clinicians, and yes, even professional staff are under more stress than ever to provide high-quality patient care, so healthcare leaders must do everything within their power to encourage, support, and engage their employees on a daily basis.
Here are four habits of superbosses that all healthcare leaders should adopt:
1. They Hire Creative People
As an English major and professional writer whose first “real” job after college was as an administrative assistant at a dialysis clinic, I’ve written quite a bit about why creative people make excellent healthcare hires. In my opinion, the same traits that make creatives, well, creative, (like a penchant for multi-tasking and a built-in creative outlet) also make us invaluable assets to the healthcare industry. I’m not the only person who feels that creativity sometimes trumps experience, either.
Famous superbosses, like Lorne Michaels and Ralph Lauren, know the value of creativity as well. In fact, Ralph Lauren once promoted a runway model to the head of women’s design, “for no other reason than she seemed to get it — she got the clothes.” Additionally, Lorne Michaels, longtime producer of Saturday Night Live, has reportedly said this of leadership positions: “If you look around the room and think, ‘God, these people are amazing,’ then you’re probably in the right room.”
Obviously, the healthcare industry is vastly different from show business and high fashion, but that doesn’t mean creative problem solving is any less important. According to Finklestein, when looking to fill a position, the best bosses of any industry value creativity, intelligence, and flexibility above all else. In Harvard Business Review, Finklestein put it this way, “Superbosses want people who can approach problems from new angles, handle surprises, learn quickly, and excel in any position.”
2. They Aren’t Afraid Of Turnover
Turnover is a legitimate concern when you work in healthcare. Losing a high-performing employee who you have invested time and money recruiting and training can cost your organization anywhere from $42,000 to $60,000. Moreover, as I stated above, about one in five new nurses leave their first job within a year, and the talent shortage is disconcerting. So, yes, reducing turnover is a major focus for healthcare leaders, and that makes perfect sense. However, one of the ways superbosses stand out among the rest is by understanding that the quality of their talent matters more than the stability of their scheduling.
Superbosses know that the most talented hires will likely want to advance their career at some point, and that could mean they won’t stay in one position, or with one organization, for very long. Superbosses are OK with this, because they see turnover as an opportunity to hire amazing new people, and they realize that reacting supportively toward employees who leave their organization can only work in their favor.
If it becomes well-known that you’re the type of manager who values your employees’ individual success over the organization’s retention rate, then you’re probably going to attract some high-quality candidates. As Finklestein explains it, “This kind of attitude has an added payoff: when word gets out that people who work for you succeed not only at your organization but outside it, the world will start beating a path to your door. Superbosses barely need to recruit, because their reputations bring a continuous stream of talent to them.”
3. They Delegate Without Micromanaging
I doubt that anyone who is reading this needs to be told to delegate more considering healthcare leaders (and just healthcare employees in general) are notoriously overworked. This is so much the case, in fact, that a recent study of 40 different hospital units found that one-third of nurses plan to quit their job within the next year. On top of that, a survey published in BMJ Quality and Safety discovered that more than 50 percent of nurses worry their job is negatively affecting their health. So, no, you probably don’t need one more person tell you about the importance of delegating. However, what you might not know is this: there’s a big difference between assigning tasks and delegating like a superboss.
Since superbosses value quality over stability when it comes to their staffing needs, they’re confident that all their hires are smart, ambitious, and adaptable people. When superbosses delegate, they trust in the abilities of their employees instead of micromanaging their every move. In turn, this instills confidence in employees while simultaneously freeing management up to handle other high-level issues. As superboss and Kraft CEO Michael Miles explained it, you have to work closely enough with your employees to “elicit skills” without working so closely that you “limit skills.” Basically, superbosses know that micromanaging is not an efficient way to delegate, and it’s a truth that healthcare leaders should also take to heart.
4. They Keep In Touch With Former Employees
While it may seem unconventional to stay connected with employees after they leave your organization, superbosses know that investing in former employees is almost as important as mentoring and coaching current ones. You never know when a former employee might want to work for you or with you again. So, while it might be time-consuming, keeping in touch with former talent is actually super practical.
“For superbosses, counseling protégés is a long-term commitment. Even after someone moves out of their organization, superbosses continue to offer advice, personal introductions, and ‘membership’ in their networks,” says Finklestein. “When the time is right, superbosses often encourage star talent to leave, after which these acolytes usually become part of the superboss’s strategic network in the industry.”
Everyone’s different, so no two managers are going to interact with their employees in the exact same way, and that’s more than OK. However, when you discover habits that result in high levels of employee satisfaction and organizational success, it makes sense to apply them to your own managerial style. Clearly, the behaviors of famous superbosses are worth trying.
Are you interested in learning how to leverage employee engagement to become a superboss? Download our free how-to guide:
Image: Thought Catalog