What are the leadership barriers to doing this?
We have established that we must change our culture and identify our customer. However, if we stop here, we are almost certain to miss the mark of success. We must identify what our customer expects of us. It is not enough to assume that we know what their needs are based on previous experience. We must engage our customer and allow them input into our culture. This is can be hard because as leaders of service departments we like to think we know what people need from us and how to best provide it to them.
What is the case for doing it anyway?
While it may seem reasonable to assume we know what they need, we are not living in other leader’s shoes each day. We do not know the challenges their team is facing. If we work together with them to identify how we can best serve them, we will see improvement in key indicators in each department. Service to patients will be better. Outcomes will improve. Satisfaction will rise. Working with the departments you serve produces better results than working for the departments you serve. The difference is having the humility to ask how we can best serve instead of assuming we already know.
How can you do it?
Engage your colleagues. Reach out to the leaders that your team serves. Ask them what is working and what isn’t? Ask them if your efforts are in alignment with their goals?
Make it a habit. We must understand that the dynamics of our engagement is likely changing. Set up a regularly meeting with these leaders to make sure that you are still aligned in your efforts. I would suggest that you start by committing to this discussion quarterly. From there you can see if this is too often or not often enough.
Listen. Good leaders identify opportunities for improvement and try to fix them. When your colleagues ask you a questions or share a request, what they may be saying is that our process can be improved. Listen to what they have to say and see if it is an outlier or the result of a process that needs improved.