You’ve Got To Measure It To Move It (Lesson 4)

New quality standards place a great deal of focus on leadership and culture. It's no longer just about the clinical standards—it's also about your culture. This is why much of the focus of the CILCA/CISCA and HILCA/HISCA assessment tools is around helping organisations understand what leaders and teams need to look at.

If you're not really clear about what it is you need to measure then you’re already behind. A lot of times people will tell me that they know they’re not great with safety, and so they question why they need an assessment to tell them something they already know.

The reality is, sometimes people are not as bad as they think they are, or they are struggling in areas that they thought they were managing well in. Measuring allows you to pinpoint exactly where you're not strong in the safety element. Even if it is simply confirming what you already know, it gives you a baseline to measure. It's an annuity measurement tool, so that once you've got the baseline, have put the initiatives and activities in to close those gaps, and have retested the following year, you can then see whether those activities have worked or not. At this point, you'll see where the return on investment is.

You may know where the problems lie. However, if you don’t measure because you just don't want to look at it, then you've got no opportunities to work out why the problems exists. And if you don’t know why they exist, then you can’t solve them. You’re just continually treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

For instance, there may be one or two team leaders or nurses who the service manager is finding a bit tricky to manage. They might be a bit difficult, a bit challenging, or a bit prickly, and so the service manager sends the staff to participate in a leadership program.

Of course, leadership programs can have a positive impact. But perhaps the person who actually needs to be in the room is the leader who's just recommended them to attend. If service managers haven’t learned how to have conversations with prickly people, or how to put boundaries in place and performance manage people, then sending off frontline staff to leadership programs isn’t addressing the root of the problem—it’s just a band aid. And the problem is likely to arise again in the future.

The really good people and culture leaders in organisations are the ones who recognise when they need help. Having experts come in and demonstrate the “how,” so that this understanding can then be embedded in the organisation and maintained and monitored by the in-house leaders is crucial to the continuous improvement of organisations. It’s the whole point of working with external partners.

A partner is someone who's going to have your back and allow you to be vulnerable—to create the space for you to say you've messed up. But they're also going to be there to push you along, teach you new things, and have challenging conversations with you.

A good partner will help you to build the skills and the attitude that you've got what it takes, and then they will step back. They will always be available to assist with specific incidents or situations that may arise in the future, but the primary aim is to ensure you and your people have the tools to navigate without ongoing hands-on help from your trusted advisor.

When you've got a measurement tool and you are aware of your strengths and weak points, everything becomes much easier to manage. If the results of everything you’re measuring indicate that you’re very strong in most things but need a bit of support in certain areas, then it may well be that you don't need a comprehensive—and expensive—leadership program.

There may be specific areas where you really need support, and those areas may be the only ones where you need to acquire more skills. So measuring has the potential to save organisations a lot of money because you're targeting areas of development strategically.

Additionally, once you've developed an understanding of how measurement works, and you've used it in some areas, it's much easier to see what needs doing if you start having problems in a different area. When you learn to measure, it becomes much easier to recognise when you need to measure, how you need to measure, and how you go about implementing any necessary changes.