September/November 2006

LEAD Tools Become Part of the Culture

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Market-based organizations are strengthening their policies and
practices by integrating elements of Catholic Health Initiatives’ LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) program.

Mary Steuber, LEAD training manager for Catholic Health Initiatives, said that the Symphony process is one element of LEAD that is being “hardwired” into market-based organization operations. “The Symphony process identifies influences on an employee’s performance and appropriate interventions for performance problems. It focuses on leading employees to peak performance.” Steuber said that Symphony helps managers understand the things that influence the performance of their employees. “Research shows two influences that originate entirely with the manager — communication of expectations and feedback — are responsible for more than 70 percent of all gaps in employee performance,” said Steuber. “Market-based organizations are making the Symphony process part of their cultures.” Peak Performer is an online tool that allows managers to use the Symphony process to develop coaching and performance improvement plans for individual employees. “Peak Performer is very easy to use,” said Steuber. “Managers simply enter information about the performance problem. Peak Performer gives them a coaching plan they can use to work with the employee to improve performance. It helps managers determine which interventions will be most successful with a specific employee.” Martha Ayoub, education specialist at Good Samaritan Health Systems in Kearney, Neb., affirmed that that lack of communication from manager to employee is often the source of employee performance problems. “If a Good Samaritan employee is not meeting expectations, the supervisor uses Peak Performer to create an action plan for the employee,” she said. “Many supervisors find that the problem stems from a breakdown in communication of expectations. By using Peak Performer, issues can be resolved quickly, which often creates better relationships between employees and supervisors.” St. Joseph’s Area Health Services in Park Rapids, Minn., also uses a tool from the Symphony module — the Symphony Scorecard — to strengthen its corrective action process. “The Symphony Scorecard brings more structure to the initial phase of our corrective action process, which consists of coaching and counseling,” said John Tormanen, human resources manager at St. Joseph’s. “It helps ensure that we address all of the potential issues. With the help of the Symphony Scorecard, we’ve actually eliminated verbal warnings in favor of encouraging two-way conversations between employees and managers.” In Towson, Md., St. Joseph Medical Center requires managers to attach a Peak Performer action plan to all employee performance improvement plans. “The major benefit of Peak Performer is that it helps managers look at their own performance,” said Joy Goldman, director of leadership and organizational development for St. Joseph. “When an employee has performance challenges, a manager’s first instinct is often to scrutinize the employee’s behavior. Peak Performer helps managers look at what they can do differently, as well as what employees can do differently. Our managers tell me that’s very helpful to them.” Steuber said Catholic Health Initiatives’ national human resources managers also use Peak Performer to assist employees with performance issues. “It’s a tool that can be used any time a manager has a need to coach an employee,” she said. “It isn’t reserved for formal corrective action processes — in fact, early use can help prevent performance problems.” For more information on Symphony and Peak Performer, contact Mary Steuber at