I am a skeptical person by nature. It turns out that has served me well in my field. For over 25 years I have listened to people proclaim how information technology will transform health care in the near future.

Usually I am the one trying to temper expectations. But, today I found myself claiming that we are on the verge of some really interesting things in healthcare technology. For a long time we have lacked the standards and networks that exist in in the financial sector. But, I believe we are close to implementing early versions of these at the state level. This is due to the federal stimulus funds and the hard work of state agencies partnering with the private sector.

Some aspects of the meaningful use are frustrating.  I believe we are still chasing a list of functionality that does not have a clear line of sight to specific and prioritized goals. I once heard this referred to as planning by the cover of Modern Healthcare.

But, I believe 5 years from now we will see interoperable heathcare systems at the state level. I am optimistic.

6 Management Lessons I Learned by Watching Tabatha’s Salon Takeover

I am in the process of a significant IT Reorganization.  The goals of the reorganization are:

  1. make IT Operations more reliable and
  2. improve the overall efficiency of the IT team so we can complete more projects (the demand keeps increasing).

One of the new IT leadership positions is a supervisor to manage the work of support techs in each of our 5 IT regions. As you would expect, the candidates are primarily the existing support techs. I have had the greatest time talking to these men and women about their interest in the position and their ideas to provide end users with a better service. They are talented, bright, optimistic people.  It has been a real energy boost for me.

For all of their raw talent, most are new to management. Providing them good mentorship will be key to their success.

Now there are libraries filled with books on management philosophies. But, that would require me to travel to a library, or to read a book.  Instead, I chose to watch some reality TV on Bravo. Tabatha’s Salon Takeover follows “celebrity hair stylist”, Tabitha, as she travels across the country helping struggling salons. It is my guilty pleasure.

The owners of these salons are usually in deep debt and losing money. Much of what Tabatha does is address poor management, including bad employee supervision.  The salon employees always have the same concerns, and as such, these have become the basis for my primer for supervising people for first-time managers:

  1. Employees want their manager to be present. There are various approaches to being present, some more effective than others. As Studer disciples will attest, effective rounding is a great tool.
  2. Employees want regular staff meeting where managers can communicate the big picture and where things are going.
  3. Employees want clearly defined, preferably written and measurable, performance expectations.
  4. Employees want opportunities for growth, including a plan for their continued education.
  5. Employees want feedback regarding their performance. They want to know when they are not meeting expectations and they REALLY want recognition for good work. Sending employees hand-written thank you notes is a Studer “must-have”.
  6. Employees want to be treated fairly. While low performers are often the biggest complainers about fairness, it is the high performers that are demotivated when they are treated the same as low performers. The Studer Group has great strategies for determining High, Middle and Low Performers and how to manage each group.

Should I tell our new managers to watch Tabitha’s Salon Takeover? Maybe that is not the best conclusion.  I think the real lesson is that inspiration to be a better manager is everywhere. If you are passionate about being better at something, think about it throughout the course of your day and it will find you.