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The Power of Asking: How to Get What You Need

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Jackie Larson, President, Avantas

Imagine going to work every day and having to work within workarounds for inefficient processes. It’s time-consuming and frustrating, and you know there has to be a better way. But you’re not an executive leader. Sourcing out solutions is above your pay grade, right? Leave the big ideas to those at the top, right?

Wrong! Don’t discount your ideas because you don’t have a standing invitation to the boardroom. As someone who is close to the hustle and bustle of day-to-day tasks, you know perhaps better than anyone if something is working or not. And if you don’t speak up, no one in an executive role may ever find out.

Many organizations are stuck using broken practices because that’s the way it’s always been done. Sure, people may complain about what isn’t working, but complaints aren’t productive. You need to have an idea for something better. More than just having an idea, you need to build your case for a new solution to gain the support of your executive-level leaders. Executives love when people bring them solutions, not problems.

Learn how to explain why this possible new initiative or tool is good for employees and the organization. Get data if applicable. Executives like to see metrics, something tangible that marks improvement. For finance that means dollars. Maybe the new solution will reduce overtime or last-minute high-incentive open shifts. This reduction in costs will speak to finance executives. If the initiative works to alleviate staff burnout, delivers time back to managers, and improves patient care – these details will be significant to chief nursing officers.

If you’re not a technology expert, possibly the biggest hurdle in your effort to pitch a new initiative is to find a way to speak to IT executives. Technology is fast growing and ever changing ever. Technology should improve users’ lives rather than make their work more difficult. If technology requires a workaround to use it, it’s not the right solution.

For example, maybe you’re frustrated with your organization’s staffing and scheduling practices. If you’re a nurse manager, maybe you’re spending hours each pay period scheduling staff through a mix of software and paper, only to have to complete numerous updates as the start of the shift gets closer. You do your best to staff to demand, but without a clear view, some days you run short and others you are calling people off.

It’s an all-too-common scenario in hospitals and health systems across the country. Inaccurate projection of needs can cause several problems for provider organizations, including cultural and financial. But what if technology was available that used advanced modeling techniques and predictive analytics to forecast an accurate demand of resources? This solution exists and now you need to find a way to ask for your executives’ buy-in.

How do you do this? Do your research and craft a compelling story, but keep it simple. Highlight the key takeaways and how the solution will impact the end-users, departments, and the organization. You need the buy-in of everyone to get an initiative off the ground. Champion cross-departmental collaboration by explaining to each leader the positive benefits of the project.

Asking for something you want is a scary thought. The fear of rejection or fear you won’t be taken seriously can be a blow to your ego. But asking someone for something you want is a lot better than waiting for it to happen (because it won’t). With growing competition in the healthcare market, organizations need to be open to change from any employee. Innovation is no longer expected solely from executive-level leaders. So don’t be afraid to step up to the table and make yourself heard.

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