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  • Writer's pictureBruce Cummings

Note from Hospital Employees to Hospital Leaders: “It’s Not Me, It’s You.”

Updated: May 13

One of the phrases ascendant in 2023's HR and executive lexicon was, of course, "quiet quitting". Just giving the minimum effort -- enough to get by and/or avoid disciplinary action -- is hardly a new phenomenon and, sadly, it's not foreign to healthcare. However, it has taken on new significance in the aftermath of the acute phase of the pandemic as employees, including hospitals and medical group practices, are still finding their way through hybrid work arrangements, flexible scheduling, the role and extent of remote work (and who is eligible to work remotely), and how to assure awareness of and alignment around key organizational objectives.

The Antidote to "Quiet Quitting"

Guess what? The antidote to "quiet quitting" is not scheduling lots of employee meetings.

Indeed, against the backdrop of widespread teeth gnashing among leaders about the alleged epidemic of "quiet quitting" in the workplace comes this intriguing article by Bryan Robinson, PhD in the December 14 issue of Forbes. Here are the two opening paragraphs:

Note from employee to employer: “It’s Not Me, It’s You.” This could be the cliff notes to Part 2 of the 2023 Digital Work Trends report in which 34% of employees say they have to guess their priorities at work. According to this new research from Slingshot, companies rushed to address “quiet quitting” in 2023 when an employee might be chronically disengaged at work, doing the bare minimum of what is required. When employees are not functioning fully, it can become an invisible drain on a company’s engagement and productivity. So managers addressed the problem with constant check-ins and long, drawn-out status meetings neither of which worked, revealing a disconnect between the standard of work that leaders expect and what employees need to be productive and perform well, according to Dean Guida, founder of Slingshot and CEO of Infragistics, told me. “When employees don’t know what their priorities are, many will guess what’s most important or simply choose what to do. This often does not line up with what leaders believe need to be prioritized–and leaves them scrambling to finish tasks or meet deadlines. This is caused by a lack of visibility across teams and alignment on goals and objectives.

“When the world shifted to remote and hybrid workplaces, many quick exchanges in the office were replaced with 30-plus minute meetings. While leaders may feel like they have a better gauge on what individual employees are working on and their performance with more meetings, it’s actually hurting employees’ productivity,” Guida continued. “Not to mention, it’s making nearly half of employees feel micromanaged. By aligning with employees on clear priorities and set goals, leaders can have peace of mind that the highest value tasks will be completed and employees have the autonomy to reach goals in their own way.”

The Epidemic of Meetings in your Hospital or Medical Group

Is this -- an epidemic of 30 minute meetings -- happening in your hospital or medical group practice? If so, the odds are good that it's producing two unwanted, counterintuitive phenomena: more disengagement, not less; and, more confusion around the organization's top priorities.

The propensity for leaders to substitute informational meetings for direct engagement with front-line clinicians in their work setting -- by job shadowing, for example, or by giving front-line staff both the latitude as well as the problem-solving tools to fix irksome "flow stoppers" and other recurring hassles, or by investing in a robust, hardwired daily management system -- is understandable, if wrong. Leaders are comfortable with meetings. It's what they know. They are not so comfortable going to gemba -- that is, leaving the office to go where the work is being done by front-line caregivers.

...And. Just. Listen.

Ready to transform your hospital or workplace?

Are you frustrated by adversarial relationships between front-line clinicians and senior leadership? Organizational Wellbeing Solutions was formed to enable senior leaders to identify the specific drivers of clinician burnout in their organization; and to support leaders in designing and executing a comprehensive plan to stop clinician burnout, increase retention, and improve operating results. A hallmark of our consultancy is correcting the all-too-frequent distrust and alienation clinicians feel toward the c-suite generally and the CEO in particular. Let us help you help your organization and its clinicians develop a more trusting, aligned, and productive working relationship.

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