Boo! Scare Tactics that Backfire

Many healthcare leaders adopt a “tough love” approach when it comes to managing employee performance and expectations. This method may work well for some staff members, but not all will embrace the negativity it can create. Understanding your team and the styles they respond positively to is critical in realizing continued operational success and employee satisfaction. Experience has shown that a healthy mix of positive reinforcement and constructive criticism are the best motivators. Here are a few ways to modify some typical staff “scare” tactics for a more effective outcome!

  • The Ultimatum: In love and life, few people respond well to an ultimatum. When reducing a situation to only two options, emotions tend to run high and drive decision-making. Staff is more likely to make choices out of spite when they feel backed into a corner. Instead of going right for the ultimatum of doing what is being asked or being let go, perhaps leaders should focus more on the root cause of the employee’s shortcomings. Work together on a corrective plan and be supportive of improvement efforts. Good employees should not be quickly dismissed; they can be hard to find!
  • Un-mitigated Transparency: Being open and honest is usually a positive management attribute. However, there is such a thing as being too transparent. Leaders don’t need to be Casper the Friendly Ghost and be completely see-through with staff; it is essential to keep some information under wraps. Detailing the shaky, sometimes dire, financial status of the organization, and using it to motivate employees to work harder generally has a negative impact. Staff members are more likely to question job security and start looking for opportunities to “jump ship” rather than perform to impress. Share what needs to be shared, but keep the message broad and focused on ownership. Remind employees that they are part of a family, and everyone’s contributions count!
  • The Almighty Dollar: Money motivates. Staff often measure the value they provide by the raises and bonuses they receive, operating under the assumption that the harder they work, the more they will be rewarded. Leaders who consistently reinforce this mentality through their management approach end up doing more damage to staff morale than help to operations. In the current healthcare environment, it is not as cut and dry as work harder, earn more. Hospitals and health systems are performing with tighter margins making overall pay increases more challenging. Therefore, it is vital to stress how employee value extends far beyond the confines of compensation. Leaders need to encourage staff not to question their worth in dollars, but by the skill and talent that they bring to their positions. Contributing to systematic, continuous improvement will allow staff members to benefit from the savings generated as it is reinvested back into the organization.

ALTIUS has a wealth of experience coaching and collaborating with healthcare leaders to develop management tactics that work in their unique settings. To learn more about our successful management strategies or our other services, please reach out directly!

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