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Building a Healthy Workplace Culture at Mary Lanning

Building a Healthy Workplace Culture at Mary Lanning

Webcast Details

  • How can focusing on employee engagement, wellbeing and strengths impact organizational turnover?
  • What role does measurement play in the crafting of an effective employee wellbeing program?
  • In what way can a commitment to employee wellbeing be a springboard to strengths?

Bruce Cutright, Vice President of Human Resources at Mary Lanning Healthcare System, and Becky Sullivan, Wellness Manager at Mary Lanning, were our guests on a recent Called to Coach. Mary Lanning Healthcare, based in Hastings, Nebraska, has worked with Gallup for more than a decade in areas like employee engagement and wellbeing, along with CliftonStrengths and selection, and received a Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award in 2020. Bruce and Becky shared how Mary Lanning has focused on its employees' wellbeing and engagement over the years and the organizational benefits that has produced, including significant reductions in turnover and over a million dollars in savings. That focus has proven difficult, yet crucial, during the increased stresses of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Along with these, the organization has added a focus on CliftonStrengths more recently, and is experiencing positive cultural change as a result.

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 7.

When we decided that we really wanted to engage deeper into strengths, it wasn't a great time for us. ... [But we were] really passionate about making this happen.

Becky Sullivan, 7:35

So is there a financial impact to using strengths-based management, hiring for talent, listening to people's opinions, making their opinions count and having an engaged workforce? ... Yes, there definitely is.

Bruce Cutright, 26:25

Our staff doesn't have time to reach everyone in the organization, and our leaders are great assets in helping us to spread that strengths message.

Becky Sullivan, 12:00

We reduced our first-year turnover rate from 48% ... to the end of 2020, down to 12%. ... And that's over a million dollars in savings in the cost of turnover.

Bruce Cutright, 25:09

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world -- or at least today here in the state of Nebraska -- this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on February 26, 2021.

Jim Collison 0:21

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. And today, we have a very special organization with us. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's actually a link right above me there on the live page that'll take you to YouTube. Sign in with your Google account. You can post your questions in the chat. And we'd love to even have you check in where you're listening from. If you're listening to the recorded version -- and many of you do -- and you have questions, you can still send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app -- we make these available that way as well -- or on YouTube. Don't forget to hit the Like button while you're at it. Denise McLain is our host today. She works as a Senior Practice Expert with Gallup, and Denise, that sounds super important. Thanks for being on Called to Coach, and welcome!

Denise McLain 1:14

Thanks, Jim. It's a beautiful day in Nebraska. Not only am I here sitting in sunny Nebraska, but so is our first-ever Strengths-Based Organization winners. We have two folks from Mary Lanning Healthcare System. They're out of Hastings, Nebraska. Before I introduce them, let me just do a few intro about Mary Lanning Healthcare. So, Mary Lanning Healthcare is a stand-alone private, not-for-profit healthcare organization. It's headquartered in Hastings, Nebraska. They have approximately 1,300 employees, which includes 187 physicians and advanced practice professionals. So, and they offer a broad array of acute care and outpatient services. Like many of our friends in the healthcare world, they've been dealing with COVID dramatically this year. But most importantly, they've also been a Gallup partner for over 14 years. This has resulted in changing their culture. And they began with employee engagement. They actually started with an employee engagement ratio of about a 2:1 ratio. Today, they sit at a world-class ratio of 16:1. They've been very proud to be named a Gallup Workplace Excellence Award last year for the first time. But prior to that they were a Gallup Workplace Award Winner for six consecutive years.

Denise McLain 2:46

I've got two very special people here today. First, we have Bruce Cutright. He is currently the Vice President of Human Resources at Mary Lanning. He has over 35 years of human resource management experience. He has been in multiple industries, but has really spent most of his career in healthcare. Over the years, mostly at, at Mary Lanning, he's remodeled their selection process to think about talent. He's created performance development programs, which includes our philosophy around 5 Conversations. He's worked within their benefits, their compensation strategies and their industrial relations. So we're very proud to have him. He has Empathy, Communication, Includer, Woo and Individualization. Those are great strengths, Bruce! He's a very fine person, by the way.

Denise McLain 3:37

The other wonderful person on the call is Becky Sullivan. And Becky is their Wellness Manager for Mary Lanning. She's also a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, and she has led the entire effort around creating an integrated approach for Mary Lanning between wellbeing, engagement and strengths. So I know you're gonna have lots of questions; she's done it. She's figured out that magic of How do I help my team members at Mary Lanning really focus on their strengths, help them be engaged and help them live a life where they can thrive? Becky's top strengths are Ideation, Maximizer, Relator, Input and Activator.

Denise McLain 4:22

So we've got some great strengths to talk about, both from them individually, and for what they've done for their organization. But I'm going to start with Bruce. So Bruce, tell us, you know, how did this partnership with Gallup begin?

Bruce Cutright 4:36

Wow. Well, it started back in 2008. Actually, we had an initiative going on with the hospital to remodel the hospital. We were updating the facility. But at the same time, our human resources metrics did not look good. And there was a lot of focus on making the hospital look good, but we weren't investing in those human capital strategies -- at least, I didn't think, as much as we should be. And when we looked at our HR metrics, our first-year turnover was 48%. So you think about that -- 1 out of every 2 people that we were hiring back in 2007, 2008, 1 out of every 2 were leaving the organization before the end of the year from the time that they hired.

Bruce Cutright 5:24

And I thought about that, and I thought, gee, you know, when you started college, a lot of us, maybe we had that same experience in that year that you're in orientation as a freshman, and maybe the president or the counselor says, "1 out of, out of every 3 of you will be here in your senior year," that's not very engaging. So we knew we had a problem. And we had a 25% turnover rate with RNs, which were very hard to find in Hastings, Nebraska, so that was unacceptable, and a 22% turnover rate overall. Again, unacceptable for our marketplace, because the labor pool is so skinny.

Bruce Cutright 6:03

So I knew we had to do something. On top of the poor financials, we had the poor human resource metrics. And I knew intuitively that if I didn't do something, and then if the rest of the senior team didn't do something, frankly, maybe our jobs were in trouble. I knew about Gallup. I had some experience, having been, as an undergrad, knew about Donald Clifton. I knew about strengths. I did a lot of reading. And where we're located, we're not very far from Omaha, Nebraska. So I actually made an appointment with a Gallup representative at that time, and that's where our engagement began. But little did I know how much I didn't know at the time. And it's been a wonderful partnership, since 2008. And we can elaborate a lot more on that, as, throughout this, this hour.

Denise McLain 7:00

Oh, that's perfect, Bruce. Thank you. So you really started the partnership; you created the path and this journey. And then Becky, you came in, and you really wanted to make this journey around becoming a strengths-based organization. Do you want to, do you want to talk a little bit around how Mary Lanning has become a strengths-based organization?

Becky Sullivan 7:21

Denise is giving me a lot of credit, but there's actually a whole team of people here. We have some great strengths coaches, some great wellbeing coaches that have really worked to push this through. And I guess to start, I guess, just when we decided that we really wanted to engage deeper into strengths, it wasn't a great time for us. You know, they say that there's, there's no great time to ask for things. Well, this really was not a great time to ask for something. We we actually had a new hospital that was being built down the road from us, which was going to be new competition. We were told kind of across the board to cut expenses in a big way. So it wasn't a really excellent time to ask for more spending.

Becky Sullivan 8:04

And we had just implemented new EMR software, which anyone who works in healthcare knows what a trying task that is, not only from the expenditure, but also just the training of everyone. And so that was the time we chose to ask to do strengths on a more universal basis. My, my colleague, Renee Foster, and I put together some proposals, and we're actually really passionate about making this happen. Went in and talked to our CEO, and fortunately, he approved it. And I guess at that point, we were kind of off and running.

Denise McLain 8:38

You know, Becky, you began, Mary Lanning began with wellbeing and engagement first. How did the wellbeing path help you with the strengths path?

Becky Sullivan 8:51

Yeah, I mean, honestly, I feel like our wellbeing program paved the way for our strengths program. We had been, when we first started really thinking about making strengths more of a, becoming a strengths-based organization, we had had a wellbeing program in place for about 8 years. And that program, we meet with people one on one, we do coaching with them. And so, and we have about 85% participation in our wellbeing program, so we were hitting the majority of our employees. So it was a pretty natural transition for us to go from wellbeing coaching to strengths coaching.

Becky Sullivan 9:30

And we, as part of our initiative, every single person in our organization knows at least their Top 5 strengths. Our leaders all know their Top 34, and we actually have departments within the organization who, actually the entire department has their full 34. And we do coaching around all of that. So every single person, from the CEO on down, has been coached, has had a coaching session with strengths, and we, you know, we use that as kind of our springboard; I guess that wellbeing is part of our springboard of how we can work with strengths as well.

Denise McLain 10:06

And if I'm, if I'm not mistaken, you actually use strengths to help people focus on their wellbeing, correct? So if I have high Activator, what would you tell me?

Becky Sullivan 10:20

I'd tell you, you're going to be great at starting everything that you're going to do. But the end result, you're going to have to find a different strength to use, probably. But, and that's so true, Denise, I know -- and if other people listening in have tried to do coaching in the whole organization and tried to do that, the Naming and Claiming piece is great on that. We're easily able to help people with the Naming and the Claiming; it's the Aiming that can get to be difficult.

Becky Sullivan 10:49

And where we've integrated that strengths with our wellbeing, that gives us opportunities for conversations every year with people on how they are Aiming their strengths at their wellbeing goals. So, you know, how, how would they take those strengths that they have, and use those to achieve goals? And sometimes it's not, it's not using a specific strength; maybe it's turning down another strength because that strength is keeping you from achieving your goals. And so, you know, that's, that's one way we look to really integrate into the organization.

Becky Sullivan 11:20

When we first started, we also just tried to see what, what was in existence that we could start using the strengths language with. So our new employee orientation, we talk about strengths with our employees from Day 1. When leaders do rounding with their employees, we, we give them some help with questions that they could ask around strengths that they can do that. We talk about it at leader meetings; we try to give our leaders tools to be able to take strengths back to their departments. And I should mention here too, we have an excellent, excellent team of managers that work here that help significantly with spreading the message. We, you know, our staff doesn't have time to reach everyone in the organization, and our leaders are great assets in helping us to spread that strengths message, and just really looking at every place that we could possibly integrate that strengths terminology -- and wellbeing terminology -- into the organization.

Denise McLain 12:20

That is fabulous. Now, you know, Becky, you went from the individual perspective. Bruce, I'd like you to share the story of how, you know, you have this wonderful strategic idea of creating a very ... strengths-based organization and some of the things that you've done with performance management, or, you know, what you've done with your performance development and how you've looked at that, and what you've started to create, from your lens.

Bruce Cutright 12:49

Yeah, thanks for asking. Performance management -- and most CHROs you would talk to, that's a topic that's of great interest to most people, and of great frustration. And it's been a topic that I've been interested in for probably two decades, and never found what I thought was the right thing. But we knew from Gallup how important strengths-based management was. And we knew, from the research that Gallup performed, that when people are managed to their strengths, they're more engaged -- rather than trying to fix weaknesses. So we knew managing people from their strengths made them more engaged. And making people more engaged, or facilitating engagement, also improved performance. And that translates into higher service to our customers, in this case, patients.

Bruce Cutright 13:40

So we were very interested in that. But we had matured enough as an organization. And through the work that Becky did and her team on -- we had an advantage because everybody had been coached. Everybody had had their Clifton StrengthsFinders; they'd had at least one coaching session. Our managers, our vice presidents, our CEO, they all were conversant in the language of strengths-based management. They knew their own strengths, and we had started down the journey of team strengths. So that lent itself very nicely to what we learned, again from Gallup, about those 5 Conversations.

Bruce Cutright 14:21

And we already knew that employees want frequent, two-way communication. They want to know frequently how they're performing. They want to be involved in their own goal-setting. They want to know what the company's goals are. And department directors want to have their department goals aligned with the corporate goals, and the individual goals aligned with the department goals. All that being said, everything came into alignment. Our employees were coached in strengths; they were conversant in strengths-based language. We had the tools now necessary. So through a great collaborative effort, we actually took what we knew, and the, and we also surveyed our directors and asked them, "What, what's important? What do you like about our current process? What do you dislike?" And we knew we had to, to develop our own process.

Bruce Cutright 15:20

So with the involvement of the IT department and the marketing department and the HR department, we developed what we call "GPS," which stands for Goals, Performance and Strengths. And so all of those things were aligned. And we explained the "why" to each step. So the first step, of course, was goal-setting. And before people go and do that, it's more than just a database. We wanted something that wasn't an off-the-shelf performance management process.

Bruce Cutright 15:54

You know, in the old days, when we trained people how to do performance evaluations, to use that old term, we trained them in finding a quiet place to work, to be, to talk about the positives as much as the, how much people could improve. But we knew we weren't doing enough. It was about performance development. And in this case, we have the tools necessary then to develop people through their strengths. So first step, goal-setting. Next step, a Quick Connect. Third step, which comes, all of this, throughout the year, we talk again about reconnecting, team collaboration. All of these involve strengths.

Bruce Cutright 16:37

And then the fourth step I consider to be the most important: We really get into that strengths performance development, career development discussion between manager and employee, or, and that takes some doing. And with each introduction of each step, we provide a video to explain the "why" we're doing this. And so we actually have, in one video, Becky and one of her employees talking about strengths, and how we're using strengths in that conversation to improve performance. It was so well-received by our employees. We're into our, starting our third year with this process, making improvements as we go, explaining to people using 21st century technology, video teaching, and people having the opportunity to do it on their own pace and learn. And then the fifth step is the Look-Back.

Bruce Cutright 17:35

But the whole time, it's a seamless conversation, that we're managing people to their strengths and building that bridge from manager to employee in that strengths-based concept. We're very excited about it, and it has been met with, with a lot of excitement, I think, by our employees. They, they enjoy it so much better, to have that two-way communication. And it's more transformational than transactional. We want the conversations to transform people to -- and the, I've, Becky doesn't give herself enough credit, I don't think. I've always said that the wellbeing initiative at Mary Lanning was the "secret sauce" to our engagement. People know that the organization cares about them, not just as integral parts of the big, of all the gears, but we care about them as individuals. And when you add strengths on top of that, on top of the wellbeing, it all fits together. The results have been remarkable.

Denise McLain 18:45

Bruce, I am just going to have you comment, and then we'll get Becky's input on kind of what she's seen from the GPS. But you did something quite bold. You removed ratings, correct?

Bruce Cutright 18:56


Denise McLain 18:57

From, from, from people's performance reviews. So just give us a little bit of why you did that. What does it look like? And if I'm a manager, how do I rate my, my team? And how does that fit with a strengths-based philosophy?

Bruce Cutright 19:13

Yeah, that's a great question, Denise. And I'm glad you asked it. And to be honest, there are people -- it's so, rating systems are so ingrained in most performance management processes. And anybody listening to this will know that you're probably shaking their heads up and down. Yes, we know that. And yet, as an individual, it doesn't feel good to be the recipient of a rating system. When we hire people -- and think about it: You hire people to succeed. You hire them for their innate talent, and you want them to succeed. Nobody starts a position with the intent to fail. And nobody starts a position with the intent to goof off, to be lazy. Everybody starts the position to, to succeed. And so this performance development process is designed to do just that.

Bruce Cutright 20:05

The Look Back -- the rating systems are focused on the Look Back only. How did you do? And, and there's some merit to understanding how a person performs, if you have pay for performance, for example. But we want our focus to be on development and that constant feedback. And the, the advantage of having 5 Steps or 5 Conversations that are totally dedicated to performance gives the employee frequent feedback -- they know how they stand. They don't walk into the last conversation not knowing how they stand. So a rating system really becomes unimportant. It's not important at all, and we want to continue to keep that focus on development.

Denise McLain 20:55

Now Becky, you know, you were really the person on the street, right? So I'm the manager, and I've got my team, and I don't have ratings. What were some of the questions that the managers were giving you and saying, "How do I do this?" What were some of the most common questions or the things that you really had to coach managers through, through?

Becky Sullivan 21:16

Well, I think, actually, just that if I'm not rating people, how am I measuring? If I, if I can't measure something, then, then how am I able to evaluate? And, you know, I think some of that just worked its way back through our wellbeing process. You know, you can set a goal of wanting to lose weight, which would be measurable, but how are you going to lose weight? And then how do I hold you accountable for that? So I'm going to lose weight, because I'm going to, you know, limit my calorie intake to X amount, or I'm going to exercise so many days a week. Well, we just tried to help leaders see that they could still do that within their, their departments.

Becky Sullivan 21:55

So, you know, if the goal is to have better relations within the department, you know, I'm going to talk to or find out something new about 3 people every month, or you know, just kind of things that they could use as ways to, to be able to measure, but maybe on a little different thought process than they had before. And I think one thing that's worked really well, too, is we've tried to, again, integrate the things that we're doing.

Becky Sullivan 22:23

So when people set their goals within their department on the GPS, some of those sometimes carry over into what they were planning to do for wellbeing. So a lot of the department leaders will, will, on the GPS system, have their employees set one personal goal. So maybe that personal goal might be the same thing that they're going to do for their wellbeing goal. Or if their purpose or career goal that they're setting in their department, maybe that's something that they also want to use for their wellbeing goal. So instead of just having that one touch, you actually are getting two touches, then, with the same goal, and things are all together: You're not having to set a goal for this thing and a goal for this thing and a goal for this thing. They all kind of interweave together.

Denise McLain 23:07

Not to put you on the spot, Becky, but when you think about what has been the best outcome from using this integrated model of engagement, wellbeing and strengths, what are you seeing the associates saying about it? I know you've done quite a few follow-up surveys and gained their input. But what, what are you hearing from associates about all of this process?

Becky Sullivan 23:32

Well, I think they feel cared for. Because all of, all of these goals are about them, and assessing what are they good at? And what do they want -- how do they want to be developed? What do they want for themselves? How can we help them be thriving individuals that all kind of -- it centers around them as human beings, more so than an asset within the organization. And so I think it, it just personalizes -- it's a very personal approach. We're not all of the same; we, we can't just set like a universal goal for a department and expect every single person is going to excel at that. People need different levels of things, and they need things that speak to their, to their strengths.

Denise McLain 24:20

That is fabulous. So you know, Bruce, you quoted a pretty high turnover score in 2008, I believe that was the year, where you first started tracking your turnover with you. You've had some different impact over the years. Tell us about how all of these programs, from engagement to wellbeing to now becoming a strengths-based organization, has impacted Mary Lanning's performance.

Bruce Cutright 24:47

Yeah, and thank you for that question. And that, this is so much fun to talk about, particularly when you, when talking to other organizations. You know, when we talk about strengths and engagement, for some people, they maybe don't realize the impact that that truly does have on the bottom line of an organization. But what we were able to find, we reduced our first-year turnover rate from 48%, as I mentioned earlier, to the end of 2020, down to 12%. So think about how much that impacts the cost, the cost, there's a true cost to turnover. And that's over a million dollars in savings in the cost of turnover, from 48% to 12% at the end of 2020, in just first-year turnover. Our overall turnover reduced from 22% down to 12%.

Bruce Cutright 25:45

I want to note, going back to first-year turnover, 2 years ago, our first-year turnover rate was only 8%. And when we provided that information to some other entities, they thought we did our calculations incorrectly, because it's almost unheard of to have an 8% turnover rate. We had a 0% first-year RN turnover rate 2 years ago. So think about that: In a labor pool that is so skinny, where there's 1 candidate for every 10 vacancies in the state of Nebraska for RNs, we lost none that we hired in that first year.

Bruce Cutright 26:25

So is there a financial impact to using strengths-based management, hiring for talent, listening to people's opinions, making their opinions count and having an engaged workforce? The answer, shortly, is "Yes, there definitely is." So, in that, the impact has been remarkable with that. And our engagement ratio went from 2.5:1, the first year that we measured it and then you mentioned it in the introductory remarks, to 16.3:1 engaged to actively disengaged. And I credit the work that, that Becky and her group has done on, on strengths, everybody being conversant in the strengths language, as we talk about that, along with our managers really being invested in this whole concept. It's important now; it's a competency for managers at Mary Lanning to understand and to know what strengths-based management is. It's important when we hire managers, they have to know and they have to buy into that. That is a competency now at Mary Lanning.

Denise McLain 27:33

I, you know, one of the things I really appreciate about the leadership team at Mary Lanning is that they never rest on their laurels. They're always thinking about, What's our next step? What's the next journey? What's the next mountain we might climb? So for either one of you, when you think about, What is the next journey for Mary Lanning? Where do you see the next emphasis, or the next skill development that you think needs to be put in place, either for leadership, managers or individual contributors?

Bruce Cutright 28:08

Well, I'll jump in first. Yeah, I'll jump in first, that I think it's important -- and we're, we've started this initiative somewhat, and not, and in a formal way, we hope very soon, our managers have to transition from boss to coach. And I think we have started that initiative. People understand, again, a competency is to become a coach rather than being a boss. So in the performance management process, performance development process that we just talked about, that will be one of the next important initiatives is that those managers have yet another level of understanding of strengths, as taught by Becky and her team, and how to be conversant in that dialogue, in that two-way communication, every step of the way in the GPS.

Bruce Cutright 29:00

And so I see that as the next step. It's hard to sustain sometimes; it was, in some ways, easier to go from very low to very high engagement. But sustaining that engagement in times of a pandemic and all of the other challenges that healthcare organizations have -- sometimes that can be hard, and it's contin -- it requires continuous and, continuous focus. We cannot take our eye off the ball. We have to focus on those tools that got us there in the first place and not forget about that. So Becky, I jumped in; you probably have better ideas than I do on what those next steps are.

Becky Sullivan 29:41

Well, I think, Bruce, you know, you said it perfectly. We, COVID obviously derailed a lot of plans for a lot of people all over the world. We were fortunate in that our engagement scores did stay pretty steady, which of course we, I think, [attribute] to the culture that we had built. Common language, again, you know, we had people who were gone; we had people who were here all the time. We kind of had a wide range of, of things that were happening with our employees. Because we had that common language, we could still message, we could still do things around wellbeing and around strengths that didn't necessarily need explaining, that people could just look at or access and be able to do on their own.

Becky Sullivan 30:27

But because of everything that happened last year, we weren't able to target messages probably as much as what we would like. We weren't able to maybe do some of the things that we had hoped to do with leaders, with individual contributors. So this year definitely is to, to work more with managers with strengths. I'm thrilled; we actually were in our kind of action-planning stages for our engagement, our engagement survey. So I'm getting tons of emails from our leaders who want to do strengths-based things with their employees as part of their action plans for this year, to help increase their engagement scores.

Becky Sullivan 31:05

So that's already coming through on their own. And we haven't actually even ourselves offered the things that we'd like to do this year, which is doing more of that Aiming with leaders. We just, we need to sit them down again, have more, more coaching with them, for themselves personally, their own personal development, but also how that looks when they go back into their departments. And, and just providing, I know, our strengths team is working on a menu of things that we can give to leaders. So either things that we can come to their departments and do or that they can just do on their own. So we're going to provide them with some tools to be able to, to continue that, either with or without us. But, but definitely focusing more on that Aiming. How do we continue to aim our strengths?

Becky Sullivan 31:56

That's excellent. Jim, I am hoping that we have some great questions from the group. Do you want to come in and help us hear some of those great questions?

Jim Collison 32:04

Yeah, we've got quite a few that are out there. Bruce, I think we'll throw this one over to you. So you're saying that you simply measure people on whether they achieve their goals or not? It's a simple "Yes" or "No," rather than rating scores, specific to highly personalized goals? So is the goal-setting process a "Yes" or "No"? Or is it -- and if it's not, how are you measuring that on the back end, as far as people achieving those?

Bruce Cutright 32:27

Well, it really isn't a simple "Yes" or "No." And if we think about it in practical terms, many goals don't have a 12-month lifespan to them. They may have a 2- or 3- or 4-year lifespan to them, or they may just be 3 months. But so when we measure the goals, the conversation is more than just "Yes" or "No"; it's, "Did you accomplish the goal or is it still in progress"? And if it's still in progress, what were some of those barriers? What is it that we have to do? What can I do as your manager to remove those barriers, etc.? And what are your plans to do that? And if you didn't accomplish the goal, let's explain why.

Bruce Cutright 33:09

We all know and we've been in situations where you have, you establish a goal at the beginning of the year, and then life happens; things change. The Black Swan event happens, i.e., the pandemic. Everything changes. So the important part of this whole conversation is about the two-way dialogue and having an understanding about that. We hire people as professionals; they should be treated as professionals. And we want that to always happen. It's not simple "Yes" or "No," but "How are we doing? And what progress are you making towards that goal?" I hope that helped the person that asked the question.

Jim Collison 33:50

I think so. Becky, you want to add?

Becky Sullivan 33:51

Yeah, I just want to add too; I want to just point out, too: We still have, there's required competencies that people have to do. There's, there's a separate disciplinary action type of thing that people still have to do. But this, this is the meat. I mean, you have very few people who need the disciplinary action or don't complete their competencies. This is, this is for the majority of the people, not the minority of the people.

Denise McLain 34:16

And Becky, just highlight also, because you are a healthcare system, you also have regulations and standards and protocols minimums, right. So when you think about your, your patient quality scores, your physician interactions, those types of things, those are all part of the conversations, correct?

Becky Sullivan 34:35

Exactly. So right, we have certain things that are required. And the cool thing about the way we have it set up with the 5 Critical Conversations is you are touching base with your manager consistently throughout the year. So if there's something that needs to be addressed with an employee, that can happen during one of those conversations as well.

Jim Collison 34:54

Becky, before I get to Kevin's question in the chat room, I want to ask you, as a Certified Coach on the ground doing the work, oftentimes not everybody's super excited about -- like, we talk about these things, they're like a slam dunk. Like, "Oh, yeah, everybody's gonna be super excited!" How do you or how are you handling -- this is a common question I get in the coaching community all the time -- How are you handling the folks that are kind of, I don't want to say skeptical, but they're a little standoffish? How do you guys, how do you guys kind of work with individuals like that?

Becky Sullivan 35:23

Well, I think, first off, they're required to do the coaching. But, but to your point, Jim, I mean, I can't tell you the number of people I've had come sit down in my office, and it's like, "Oh, gosh, I -- my manager told me I have to do this thing." And honestly, usually, by the end of the conversation, they have flipped. Again, you always have your handful of people who who just really think it's, it's a bunch of hooey. But for the most part, once people understand it, and understand that it's about them and their personal development, it's a lot easier to, to kind of change that. So we have a few, but for the most part, people are pretty well bought in.

Jim Collison 36:07

I think, Denise, would you add anything to that? You're on the ground all the time.

Denise McLain 36:10

I, well I try and be on the ground with these guys. They're, they're fantastic to work with. I don't want to take credit for this; Bruce brought this in. Mary Lanning selects managers using the Gallup selection tool. So they're looking for people who have the talent and want to lead people, right. So there's always a few of those who aren't thrilled about it. But they're already helping themselves as an organization by selecting the right type of manager who wants to lead people and care about people.

Jim Collison 36:42

Bruce, do you, do you want to talk to that a little bit?

Bruce Cutright 36:44

Yeah, I am so glad you brought that up. Because it is important. I think a lot of the listeners may be so familiar with the language of, in some organizations, it's all about getting rid of the low performers and dealing with people that aren't performing at the level where they're supposed to be. There's a lot of time and effort and books written about that. But they're missing the point. The most important thing that any employer can do is to hire the right person to begin with.

Bruce Cutright 37:16

You know, if you put it in terms if you owned your own business, you want to hire somebody that you know can perform that job innately. And when somebody has the innate talent to perform a job, they enjoy it a lot more. They don't fatigue as quickly. They have lower absenteeism. And they just enjoy themselves so much better in the job. So we put a lot of effort into that. And our latest Q12 scores spoke to that. We found out that the people that we hired that are recommended are 76% engaged. Think about that. Those that were just conditional were 60% engaged; and those that were not recommended -- and, full disclosure, not everybody we hire passes the, the (I shouldn't use the word "pass"), but they don't display the innate talent to perform the position. Those folks are only 56% engaged.

Bruce Cutright 38:13

But it kind of makes sense. If you've known and you think of people who are very successful in their own fields, they never fatigue; they keep working. They love what they do. They live what they do. And they sometimes do it into their elderly age. I'm thinking of musicians; I'm thinking of politicians; I'm thinking of people that we all know that are very famous because they have the innate talent to perform their job. And that should be at every level in an organization. That has really been one of the strongest levers we've pulled, long with, after we get people in there.

Bruce Cutright 38:50

I -- if I can, and I, I don't want to be guilty of talking too much. And I know that I can. But I think that it's, if we think of it in terms of going on a hike. And if you, a big storm comes up in the middle of the hike, and you have to find shelter. Engagement really does live and breathe at the workgroup level. So if you have a bad manager, somebody who's not innately talented to manage that group, and you're stuck in that shelter with that bad manager, your experience will be very poor.

Bruce Cutright 39:32

Again, maybe you have a good manager but you have other coworkers or other hikers, in this case, that you're hunkered up with in the shelter that you don't get along with or they don't display the innate talent to do their jobs, your experience will again be very miserable. And if you didn't yourself have the innate talent to go on the hike in the first place, and you're stuck in the shelter, you would have been miserable before the storm even came up. And you're even more miserable inside the shelter.

Bruce Cutright 40:03

But if you have the best of all combinations -- the good manager who is innately talented to manage others; your coworkers or your cohikers are innately talented to do the hike; and you have a manager that manages people to their strengths, you're going to get out of that shelter more quickly and with greater ease. And so it's maybe a dumb analogy, but I like to think of it in those terms. Because when we go to work, we don't think about who the CEO is. We don't think about who the vice presidents are. We think about our coworkers and we think about our immediate supervisor. And if they all have the innate talent and they're all managing to their strengths, life is so much easier and more fun.

Jim Collison 40:47

Denise, there's a question in the chat room, and we don't want to turn this into a sales pitch about our selection tool. But can you, if folks were interested in partnering with us -- that is a tool that, that you need to partner with us on -- can you just, what's the best way for them to get in touch with us on that?

Denise McLain 41:02

If you already have a colleague, a Gallup colleague, that you're working with, just reach out to them. They'll bring in the right person to talk about our science. I think it's always important for you to understand what our science is behind our selection process, and what roles it's at best to use it for. We can use it from the very top of the house with CEOs all the way down to the front line. We have a sweeter spot with what we call our indepth interviews right now. So that would be the first place. If you don't have a Gallup person that you've already spoken to, within our Gallup website, you can just reach out to kind of our hotline. You can certainly do that. Or I don't know if my contact information is in here, Jim. I'm happy to take that and just refer it to the right people also.

Jim Collison 41:48

Yeah, Denise, I'll tell them the easiest way is just send us an email: And we'll make sure we get that routed to the right person that way. OK, Becky, anything you want to weigh in on that before I go to the next question? Any, anything else you want to say?

Becky Sullivan 42:02

No, I'm good.

Jim Collison 42:02

OK, awesome. So Kevin asks this question around wellbeing. And Becky, I'll throw this one to you first. So during this very high-stress time in the healthcare industry, due to the pandemic, what have you done in the areas of wellbeing to promote support, self-care, boundaries, etc? Kind of how -- you alluded to it, I think, a little bit during the time, but can you give us maybe some practical steps of what you guys are doing around wellbeing?

Becky Sullivan 42:24

Well, on an organizational level, I guess, you know, we've, we've kind of spent the last year just accumulating a lot of resources that people can access. We have an internal internet kind of tool that people can click on. So we've put a ton of things in there, from meditation and mindfulness to the, the -- the Registered Dietitian that works on our staff put together how to -- easy meals to make at home, because all of a sudden, we were cooking, and nobody knew how to cook, food prep, that kind of thing.

Becky Sullivan 43:01

And so you know, we just kind of tried to put together some things that we thought universally would be helpful. We also, even though we couldn't do them, necessarily, in person all the time, depending on the directed health measures that were in place in, in our area, but we were still doing our wellbeing coaching visits with people, even if it was by the phone, or it was via Zoom. So we were able to kind of individually help people with those things too, and direct them to resources. And again, just because we've had this program in place for so long, and people do see us as a resource, usually, if people are really struggling, they do reach out to us so that we can get them to the right place. And I just do want to mention, we have a great employee assistance program also that we made sure people had all of the information for. So if they needed counseling during that time, that they were able to access that as well.

Jim Collison 43:55

That sounds, that sounds great. We have a, we've learned a ton about wellbeing through this time. You know, we wrote a book 10 years ago on it. We have a brand-new book coming out here in early April that's really designed for corporate wellbeing. I'm sure you guys, that's kind of be in your sweet spot, right? It's kind of the the Part 2 of this and how we do this in organizations. Bruce, would you add anything from, from your role, when we think about wellbeing? Would you add anything to that conversation?

Bruce Cutright 44:24

Just that having a wellbeing initiative like we do, having Becky and her team, has provided a lot more resilience than perhaps some organizations that don't have that have. We have been more resilient, not to say that we don't have some post-traumatic stress, post-traumatic stress from the pandemic. We have people that were at the bedside of patients with COVID, severe cases. And literally watching people die every week. That's very hard. And it's, it's life drama every single day. And these folks can't get enough praise for what they do. I admire every single one of them. And it's, the wellbeing program's so important to focusing on that. It's not a guarantee; it doesn't provide immunity from the kind of trauma that you might see, the kind of sad stories that exist out there. But it certainly does help. And that focus on wellbeing's so important, I think, in a hospital setting -- in any organization, but particularly now, and was during, during the pan -- 2020.

Jim Collison 45:41

Denise, in your role, and what you do for Gallup as a kind of senior expert, anything you're seeing or advice you'd give to folks that are both listening, and -- ?

Denise McLain 45:50

Yep, yep. So I do want to, so the book that Jim just spoke about, our new wellbeing book, is actually written for the manager. So it has, What can I do as a manager to help my team with their well, their wellbeing? You know, there's certain conversations that are easier to have with a manager than others. Within our wellbeing framework, you know, when you think about finances, right, which is, financial health is one of our spokes on our wellbeing wheel, you know, that's a harder conversation. But as a manager, I can certainly share all of our financial support systems that we have from the organization. We might have a financial adviser. So that's No. 1 that you might want to think about.

Denise McLain 46:29

No. 2, our Gallup website, if you are a current Gallup client, on your Access, your Gallup Access, we have so many articles, pieces of advice around wellbeing and what you can do as a manager to support wellbeing. Make sure you're looking at that. And then the third, I want to talk, just to give you a few quick, quick tips about our COVID research that we started -- launched in is about March through September. So we work with 400 organizations -- it's actually a little bit less than 400 -- but that we measured around COVID. Right? How was the leadership responding to COVID? What were their managers doing? Was there a plan?

Denise McLain 47:08

Our No. 1 item that helped with a person feeling cared about and having stronger wellbeing was if their manager kept them informed and helped them be flexible in their work environment. Just think about those two things. And with what Bruce said around keeping the dialogue open, hearing what people are struggling with, a simple conversation is, "How are you doing this week?" You know, "What's, what's causing you a barrier to your work?" "How are you doing at home with juggling all the new responsibilities that you have?" There are some easy questions that you could ask of a, of a team member that really shows that you care, and that you're representing the organization, and you're going to work for that employee to make it work for them. So those are just the three, three little tidbits I'd give you.

Jim Collison 47:52

That's great. That's great. Thanks for that, Denise. OK, final question for the two of you. Becky, I'll start with you. By the way, I was in a phone conversation with a buddy the other day and he said, "Hey, I haven't asked you this in a while. How are you?" You know, it was just like a simple, "How's it going?" And I knew we, it wasn't just a "Hi, how are you?" I knew it was, "I care about you," right? And I think even as a manager, I think it's important that other managers are checking in with their, with the management and their team to ask the managers how they're doing. They're just getting crushed these days. So we have to be aware of that.

Jim Collison 48:27

Becky, let me start with you. As you think about 2021, what are you most hopeful for? As we get through this year, as you look out ahead, and you kind of see what's there, what are you most hopeful for?

Becky Sullivan 48:40

Wow. I guess personally, there would be a lot of things. You know, organizationally, I'm just, I, I'm excited that hopefully we can hopefully return to some fragment of normalcy at some point. Be able to gather in groups again. I know people really miss being with each other, seeing each other, being in person. And I think, just again, for us, that, that, that strengths conversation, that wellbeing conversation, that integration of that.

Becky Sullivan 49:12

I just want to add to what Denise said too, with some Gallup resources. I know some of those tools, I know one that I used with our leaders was, there was one with how different strengths react to stress. And so that was great, because, you know, I actually had been thinking, "Oh, Adaptability people, they're so lucky. They can just go with it!" When in reality, they may be ones that are really suffering because they're trying to adapt to everybody's needs, and they might be completely exhausted from all of the adapting that they're trying to do. And so just some tools like that, back to that strengths-based conversation. You know, how are we using strengths even to check on people? How are your strengths doing? Are your strengths OK? And just, you know, being able to, I hope to continue that here at Mary Lanning. We've got some great things going, but we have a lot more that we can do.

Jim Collison 49:57

That's great. Bruce, in the minute or two we have left, what are you most hopeful for as we think about 2021?

Bruce Cutright 50:05

Yeah, and I hope I can make this brief. But when you ask that question, I actually thought -- and people have to bear with me here, when I think of this. I've known 3 concentration camp survivors in my lifetime. And what we went through in the pandemic is not anything near what the survivors of a concentration camp went through. But those 3 survivors of the concentration camp all said one thing in common, and that was when they got out, when the Allies came and they were freed from the concentration camp, one lady that I knew and thought so much of, said, The soldiers felt sorry for them; they were trying to offer them gifts: gold, jewelry, things that the Nazis had confiscated, and trying to give it back to them. But the survivors didn't want any of that. They were just so happy for their freedom.

Bruce Cutright 50:56

And what happened was, it was a realization that they were still alive, and that they were, could still communicate with each other, and that they had a life to look forward to. The pandemic had, I think, an effect of normalizing things, in terms of bringing us back to what is important in life. And I think that what we're seeing now are some of the residual effects, maybe some post-traumatic stress. In a way, what I'm hopeful for is that we start to refocus again on those things that are most important that does make a workplace, really, what makes it a good workplace. And not that -- I feel so fortunate to work with the people that I do, the Beckys of the world, the CEO that I work with, my coworkers. We're more resilient because we have what we have. But I think 2021 gives us an opportunity to really have laser focus on those things that make work a good place to work.

Bruce Cutright 51:00

That's a good, Bruce, that's a great way to say it. Denise, any final thoughts from you? And let's thank our guests for coming out today.

Denise McLain 52:07

Would love that. Last final thought: Appreciation, acknowledgment and recognition are one of the biggest levers for resilience, and thinking through just how do we give that to each other and encouraging each other to give that, I think, is one of the best things that we can do right now. And to acknowledge that we've made progress, we've survived and we're conquering, right? So I think that we're never -- one of Don's favorite quotes was, "We're never as strong as when we have our strengths in mind." And Don Clifton is who I'm speaking to.

Denise McLain 52:41

And so how do we, you know, how do we live that every day? And how do we help others see their strengths in action? That's what I would ask of all of the people on the call today. And then Becky and Bruce, your leadership, your enthusiasm, your, your patience to keep this alive and driving. It hasn't been a journey overnight. It's been small steps that had, had led you to a huge goal. You know, you've really conquered a nice mountain. And I'm looking forward to the next journey with you. I appreciate being a partner of you, and Gallup appreciates your partnership. So thank you so much! Jim, thank you for allowing us to share the story.

Jim Collison 53:24

Yeah, you bet. My pleasure. Thanks to you two, as well. And it's always fun, like I have the best job in the world because I get to hear all these stories in real time. Not only that, I get to see and meet you guys behind the scenes as we set up and we get to have the conversation. So thanks for doing that. I'm gonna ask you guys to hang tight for a second. Don't go anywhere.

Jim Collison 53:41

With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we have available now in Gallup Access, and Denise mentioned this a little bit earlier. If you head out to, that sign-in there will take you right to your Strengths Dashboard. Kind of a convenient way to get into those. Maybe it's been a while since you've seen them. Go back and revisit them. So If you need coaching, master coaching or you want to become a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach like Becky is there, you, we could do that for you as well. Send us an email: If you want, if you're an organization and you got some questions around this, you can send that email in as well. Same, same place: We'll get right back to you. If you, first time you've watched this and you want to watch, you want to see more like it, just follow us on Eventbrite: Don't forget, we have a Summit coming up, virtual Summit, 2-day. Satya Nadella from Microsoft is going to be our keynoter. It's going to be, it's going to be super great. You're not going to want to miss it:, you can get all the details there, June 8 and 9, to make that available for you. Join us on any social platform; just search "CliftonStrengths." And we want to thank you for joining us today. If you're in the chat room, and you're live with us, a special thanks. It's always fun to hang out with you guys. We'll see you next week here on Called to Coach. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Bruce Cutright's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Empathy, Communication, Includer, Woo and Individualization.

Becky Sullivan's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Maximizer, Relator, Input and Activator.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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