“Excellence Wins” in Healthcare – Managers Push: Leaders Inspire.

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Can you believe it’s nine weeks already that we’ve been reviewing the book titled, “Excellence Wins”, by Horst Schulze, founding president and COO of Ritz-Carlton? Mr. Schulze established a new standard of excellence in his industry and we’re finding practical applications from Mr. Schulze’s successes that are relevant in today’s consumer-driven healthcare industry.

While having a copy of the book is certainly not needed to enjoy the next several BLOG posts, if you’d like to grab a copy to follow along, feel free to pick it up at Amazon here, or of course at your favorite book store.

Previous Thinking Thursday TIPs, covering chapters one through eight, may be accessed from MedicalGPS’ BLOG site, linked here for your convenience.

This week we continue to explore part two, ENGAGING YOUR EMPLOYEES, as we dig into chapter nine: MANAGERS PUSH: LEADERS INSPIRE

“Who will do a better job — the employee who ‘has to’ because the boss is breathing down his neck or the employee who wants to do the job? Obviously it would be the latter.” (1)

According to Mr. Schulze there is a great responsibility that shifts to the hiring manager whenever a new employee is selected.

“Once you or I take an employee on board, it is our job to lead them to want to be connected to the overall goal.” (2)

“I believe we were all made with two fundamental desires; 1) purpose and 2) relationship.” (3)

Building mutually beneficial relationships with your employees is the key.

Mutually beneficial relationships takes time and effort to cultivate. Your employees have to know that you have their back and that you support them even when they experience temporary setbacks and failures. During the 90’s I worked for a large physician management company where we had a saying (and culture) that went something like this; “We can tolerate mistakes of the mind, but we cannot tolerate mistakes of the heart.” 

As human beings we make mistakes. If those mistakes are innocence/honest mistakes, they serve as opportunities to learn and grow. Good managers find constructive, positive ways to coach and counsel their employees in a way that lifts-up the employee and allows them to grow and get beyond their mistakes.

On the other hand, if the employee’s “mistakes” are rooted in discontent and resentment, chances are the “mistakes” are happening for reasons deeper than what might appear on the surface. When discontent and resentment creep in, there’s serious work to be done — both on the part of the employee AND on the part of the manager. Discontentment and resentment can spread, and when it does, it leads to toxic employees.

According to Forbes in the article titled, Toxic Employees Can Have Deadly Consequences For Your Business, by Dr. Richard Weinberger, we find the following:
“Toxic employees are like any other dangerous substance; in the context of a business, they can poison a workplace. What may have once been a congenial group of employees can seemingly turn into a renegade band in which no one has any loyalty to the company or even cares what happens in the future as long as salaries are paid.”

Keeping your employees focused on what really matters — serving and taking care of your patients — has to be top priority. Staying focused on the patient helps to fend off a toxic work environment. It has been my experience over my 40-year career that if you want your employees to take care of your patients, YOU first have to take care of your employees.

What I Believe

“We’ve been programmed to seek to achieve in some area so we can look back with pride and say, ‘I did that.’ Along the way, we crave relationships with other human beings. We want to connect, to talk, to be heard, to interact, to gain new ideas, to help another person, and yes, even to love.” (4)

One distraction that takes us away from building and nurturing relationships is how much we are directed to pay so much attention to “the numbers”. Every business is susceptible! From reading economic forecasts, developing and driving key performance indicators (KPIs), key result areas (KRAs), and keeping a daily watch on the performance dashboard, it’s rare to find a business that does not over-stress “hitting the targeted numbers.”

How much of your job, my job, is centered around measurements? What are we measuring? What are the secrets to, ‘making the needle move’, so that our scores make the targeted number?

There is hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask the question, “how can I improve my M3-Patient Experience® scores”? At MedicalGPS we believe measuring the patient experience is very simply a way to gain insights into what the PATIENT thinks about their office visit. Once we better understand the patient’s perspective we can then begin to translate those perspectives into what the patient desires and needs. Only by knowing the patient’s perspective can we have a chance of meeting the patient’s expectations.

We should never lose sight of the main reason for measurement. THE reason for measurement is to enable us to better manage the process, and in turn, achieve continuous quality improvement. Regardless of how great we think our service levels are or how solid we believe our clinical care may be, we can ALWAYS improve. Make performance measurements all about striving for continuous quality improvement, with the ultimate outcome centered around building better relationships. It’s all about relationships. Patient to physician relationships, manager to employee relationships, peer to peer relationships. Relationships matter the most.

So, try this: Focus less on the numbers and focus more on motivating yourself, and those around you, to foster loving relationships — yes I mentioned love — as did Mr. Schulze as noted above. When we focus on building loving relationships the numbers take care of themselves.

“For managers, the most important job is not measurement but motivation. And you can’t motivate numbers.” (5)

Motivating your employees to treat every patient with caring kindness will result in lasting relationships, and improved patient experience scores.

“We who lead businesses and organizations are not in the numbers game! We’re in the people game — dealing with customers, employees, colleges, owners, and all the rest for the best possible outcomes.” (6)

Beyond Pep Talk

“Inspiring employees to have a positive attitude about their work does not, however, mean resorting to rah-rah language and euphemisms.” (7)

Merriam-Webster defines euphemism, as: “… substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant”.
In today’s hyper-sensitive world it seems everybody is so worried about offending someone else that we tend to over-soften our approach and choose our words so carefully as to not offend. When we candy-coat what needs to be said, at best our message gets glossed over, and at worse, our message gets completely lost. When we candy-coat or gloss-over the message we miss the opportunity to be real with each other. Building real relationships requires being real with each other. Sometimes delivering the truth in love, (without fluff, but not without empathy) is exactly what’s needed to build and sustain healthy relationships.

“Bosses who flippantly roll out the “team speech” without an underlying objective or set of expectations that everyone understands and embraces are just wasting their breath.” (8)

Grasping the “Why”

“What do employees care about deep down inside? Earning a living, of course, but more than that, they care about being respected, about feeling useful, about looking at the work they’ve done and being able to call it excellent.’ ” (9)

You have probably heard it said before, while we all need money to sustain ourselves and our families, money is NOT the ultimate motivator.

In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, the fourth non-fiction book by Daniel Pink, Mr. Pink writes the following: “To motivate employees who work beyond basic tasks, give them these three factors to increase performance and satisfaction:

  1. Autonomy — Our desire to be self-directed. It increases engagement over compliance.
  2. Mastery — The urge to get better skills.
  3. Purpose — The desire to do something that has meaning and is important. Businesses that only focus on profits without valuing purpose will end up with poor customer service and unhappy employees.”

“Frederick Herzberg asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements” (10)

Finding the Right Touch

“Inspiring people to rise to excellence can be complicated at times, because individuals are not all alike.” (11)

In his book, Love and Profit: The Art of Caring Leadership, by James A. Autry, it is clearly stated; “Good management is largely a matter of love. Or if you’re uncomfortable with the word, call it caring, because proper management involves caring for people, not manipulating them.”

It Pays Off

“Inspiring employees is vital to an organization’s success. And sometimes it bears more fruit than we could ever imagine.” (12)

In this last section of chapter nine Mr. Schulze talks about when he attended the grand opening for a hotel in Bali, Indonesia. Mr. Schulze, after delivering a brief speech, was approached by young Indonesian women who had attended the orientation session that Mr. Schulze had personally facilitated at the original opening of the Bali hotel. The young woman goes on to describe how she started out as a banquet waiter and is now the general manger of a hotel in Ubud, one of Bali’s most famous tourist destinations.

Sometimes we get to see the fruit of our efforts as we mentor, coach, and otherwise love those that we are privileged to supervise or manage. Such was the case for Mr. Schulze and the young Indonesian woman. My guess is, as you have had opportunities to lead throughout your career, there are more success stories out there than you even know. Be encouraged that treating others with love, respect, and kindness, and even bringing tough-love to the relationship, when needed, will produce good fruit. Here’s the really cool part; those that we have lovingly mentored will do the same for those that they lead, and so the cycle continues and multiplies. Good fruit propagates good fruit.


Please let us know if you have comments or questions, and subscribe to our Email Updates , so that you can be assured to receive Thinking Thursdays TIPs.
Thank you!

Jerry L. Stone
MedicalGPS, LLC.

Names: SCHULZE, HORST, 1939 author. | MERRILL, DEAN
Title: Excellence Wins: a no-nonsense guide to becoming the best in the world of compromise / Horst Schulze, with Dean Merrill
Description: Grand Rapids, MI : Zondervan, [2019]


(1) Page 138
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(4) Page 139
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(6) Page 140
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(8) Page 141
(9) Page 145
(10) Page 146
(11) Page 147
(12) Page 149

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