Creating purpose and sustaining culture via better virtual meetings

Insight Article - December 15, 2020

Practice Efficiency

Culture & Engagement

Policies & Procedures

Oscar Moreno III MBA, CMPE


We are no strangers to an evolving work environment in healthcare; however, most of us are accustomed to gradual changes due to convenience and the desire to improve, not because of necessity. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic forced clinics everywhere to scramble to protect the health of patients and employees, as well as the financial health of the clinic.

Most practices experienced a sudden and drastic decrease in patient volume and will most likely operate on reduced volume and/or revenue as the pandemic continues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated 40.9% of the U.S. adult population has avoided medical care, 12% of which includes individuals needing emergency attention.1 The decline in volume has brought many clinics to their knees, demanding a reduction in workforce. It also calls for urgent attention to providing care for those who are avoiding a trip to their doctor.

These chaotic shifts in our day-to-day lives have prompted administrative leadership to use creativity to sustain organizational culture. Change is frequently the culprit of negative attitudes in the workplace; it causes uncertainty, fear of failure and a general feeling of losing control.2 However, with the proper attention, change can also create motivation. The same is true concerning our patients.

To help address this uncertainty, start with your employees. Focus on their well-being and instill them with a purpose.3 Each individual on your team should feel a personal commitment to the patient’s health. Having such a purpose creates internal motivation and gives your employees a reason to come to work and smile, even during difficult times.

Once you have a team full of individuals with a purpose, communicate with them your expectations, and then incorporate the creativity and energy that emerges from having a purpose.

Now let your team get to work. As one CEO quoted in author Daniel Pink’s DRIVE on the topic of leadership said, “Management isn’t about walking around and seeing if people are in their offices, it’s about creating conditions for people to do their best work.”4

The process of creating a purpose is not instantaneous; some employees will need a little extra motivation. It is a continuous process, and with the stresses of the pandemic, along with many nonclinical staff working from home, it has become more difficult. Technology allows for some creativity that otherwise would not happen in the office. Virtual meetings are a great opportunity to excite your team to action — but also might bore them to tears.

Steps for virtual meeting success

  • Incorporate the video function as much as possible. Live video allows the team to read each other’s body language and encourages members to stay focused on the meeting.
  • Remember that a meeting is a call to action and should fall into one of four categories: to influence, to make a decision, to solve a problem and/or to strengthen relationships.5 After identifying your purpose, create an agenda, keep it simple and stick to it; send it to all participants ahead of time.
  • Imagine the meeting; play it out in your head. Some scenarios you may want to consider are, “Which topics may spark discussion, and which topics may put the team to sleep?”
  • Use the knowledge of your team to predict who will dominate the conversation and who will shy away from conversation. Consider who your normal participants are and who is more likely to drift off without interacting.
  • After careful and strategic thought, personally invite individuals to participate in the upcoming meeting at specific points according to their individual strengths and weaknesses. Commit the future contributor to excellence by asking, “Sally, you are talented in this subject matter, I would like for you to share your expertise with the group. Will you thoughtfully prepare and lead a five-minute discussion on the topic?”
  • Get creative and have a little fun to help keep the meeting lively. Create a theme, invite everyone to bring a favorite dessert to eat on screen, or wear a shirt from a favorite sports team. Designate a word during the meeting such as “umm,” and assign someone to count how many times each participant says the word; the person with the most marks chooses the next meeting’s theme.
  • Instead of starting the meeting late waiting on everyone to arrive, open the virtual meeting room 10 to 15 minutes before the meeting starts, and encourage the team to arrive early. Start the meeting with positive energy by assigning one or more attendees the responsibility of greeting each participant by name and with a compliment. Keep in mind that “the quality of the relationships that enter a meeting determines the quality of the conversations that will occur during the meeting.”6
  • Commit your team to following up on key points. After the meeting, send a summary of the minutes highlighting the items the team agreed to pursue.

You have taken several steps in growing a team with a sense of purpose. Allow your team to “bloom where they are planted”7 by encouraging them to live their purpose through their work. With time, and with continued cultivation, your team and your patients will thrive.

Notes:

  1. Czeisler MÉ, Marynak K, Clarke KE, et al. “Delay or Avoidance of Medical Care Because of COVID-19–Related Concerns — United States, June 2020.” MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020; 69, 1250–1257. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6936a4.
  2. Herold DM, Fedor DB, Caldwell SD. “Beyond change management: A multilevel investigation of contextual and personal influences on employees’ commitment to change.” Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(4), 942-951. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.92.4.942.
  3. Pink DH. DRIVE: The surprising truth about what motivates us. 2009. New York: Riverhead Books.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Hale J, Greeny J. “How to Get People to Actually Participate in Virtual Meetings.” Harvard Business Review. March 9, 2020. Available from: bit.ly/32hD06G.
  6. Axtell P. “What Everyone Should Know About Running Virtual Meetings.” Harvard Business Review. April 14, 2016. Available from: bit.ly/2I7gDcZ.
  7. Blitch C. Leadership Development [Online interview]. Sept. 15, 2020.
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About the Author

Oscar Moreno III
Oscar Moreno III MBA, CMPE
Practice Manager Gulf Coast Cardiology — HCA Healthcare Panama City, Fla.
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