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Is Success Possible?

I get a monthly shot to battle my seasonal allergies.

As part of the process, the nurse has to confirm my information, prep the injection site, and administer the special concoction. Then there is waiting period where I have to be observed to make sure I don’t have any sort of systemic reaction. The last step is a final check of the injection site for a local reaction, documentation, and cleanup of the injection kit.

The process used to only require a 20 minutes of observation. With that duration, the whole treatment could fit into the 30 minute scheduling window. Recently, though, the observation time was extended to 30 minutes.

The scheduling process, however, did not change. See a problem? The nurses giving allergy shots are being asked to stuff 30-plus minutes of work into a 30 minute slot. Because the allergy appointment only runs a little longer than 30 minutes, the next appointment slot is not blocked off. Whenever there is a patient scheduled immediately after an allergy shot, the nurse has two choices: cut corners or be late. Not a nice position to be in.

Unfortunately, this is a leadership failing. The problem is that the nurse’s boss did not give her a definition of success. If she follows the process, she will always be late for her next appointment, failing on delivery. If she cuts corners, she fails on quality, potentially risking her patients’ health.

The lesson to take from this situation is to always have a clear, and attainable, way for frontline employees to succeed. It is no fun to go to work knowing that every day will bring failure.

If you are a leader, go to your team, and ask them what a successful day looks like. If their definition matches yours, great job. If it doesn’t, or if they can’t tell you, you’ve got something to work on.


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