Top-down goal setting for hospitals

Goal setting for hospitals

The future success of your hospital lies in the executive team’s ability to set the right goals, and  middle management’s ability to translate those goals so that they make sense to employees.

In this article, we offer advice for making sure the people at the top are setting the right goals, and that the people on the “bottom” or the frontline, are engaged and able to reach those goals.

Setting the right goals

Hospital goals are usually around improving patient service, quality of care, staff retention and skill, hospital growth, and finances.

The goals may not change much, but the way each goal is phrased, applied and measured can have a huge impact on staff performance. If employees don’t understand or agree with your goals, or if they don’t feel able to achieve them, they’ll quickly become disengaged and unproductive.

The first step in successful top-down goal setting for hospitals is to make sure your hospital’s objectives and goals align with:

  • Employee capabilities
  • Patient needs
  • The leadership’s vision

You can do this by gathering data from these three groups. Speak to front-line patient carers, assign someone to review employee performance reports and look for insights and patterns in their responses. Invite staff to complete a short survey, or group together for short workshops.

This will help you understand what’s important to your workforce and will make employees more likely to buy into the final goals you set for the hospital.

You can follow the same exercise with patients. Invite them to rate their experiences with your hospital, to make sure their perceptions and requests are reflected in your goal setting.

In both cases, you should make sure your rating system is clear and easy to report on, and that you weight goals in terms of priority.

Your hospital’s leadership team may already have a clear idea of its vision, but if not, it’s worth looking at what other hospitals and healthcare organizations are doing. And don’t narrow your focus to the US only – some European hospitals are achieving wonderful things.

Translate hospital goals into department goals

Once you know where you need to go, it’s time to translate the broad vision and hospital goals into clear, relevant and achievable goals for each department, and then for individuals.

For department managers, you’ll need to think carefully about which top-level goals they can actually influence. Some teams may not be able to contribute much to financial goals, while others may not be able to contribute to patient service goals. Rank and weight goals as relevant for each department.

Now you can begin to work with team leaders on the tactics and projects required to meet each of their goals. For example, if improving nurse retention is an important goal, you can encourage their manager to increase the frequency of performance review and feedback sessions, implement a recognition program, etc.

Turn department goals into individual goals and objectives

Managers can now begin to turn department goals into individual career plans, KPIs and strategic projects.

Some words for the wise:

  • Always share the vision. If people don’t understand why the people at the top have set the goals they did, or if they can’t see how their own targets align to these goals, then you can’t expect them to care very much.
  • Don’t overdo it. Stick to a few key priorities so that people don’t get confused or overwhelmed. Try to state each person’s goals as clearly as possible and think about how exactly you’ll measure progress monthly or quarterly. Employee performance reviews should be focused and take place regularly.
  • Be honest. When your goals are clearly articulated, managers will be able to tell employees exactly how they’re doing, because they’ll have a clear idea as to whether they’re meeting those goals or not. This enables them to be honest, without ‘getting personal’.

In conclusion

Effective top-down goal setting for your hospital requires careful thought and planning, from the moment a set of goals is determined by the executive team, to the way it is managed in performance reviews.

The more your employees understand the hospital’s goals, and how important their own efforts are in achieving these goals, the more engaged, loyal and effective they’ll be.

To learn more about vi’s performance management and real-time feedback solutions, and how they can help you implement, manage and track top-down goal setting in your hospital, follow the link below.

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