January/February 2007

LEAD Helps Managers Identify Priorities, Set Goals


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Taking a fresh look at all of the work responsibilities on your “plate” — and determining which have the highest priority — can be a daunting task even for the most experienced leaders. One of the courses available through Catholic Health Initiatives’ LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) program builds the skills required to clarify priorities and set goals, and market-based organizations have begun to adapt the course tools to their own needs.


The LEAD course, “Identifying Work Priorities and Setting Verifiable Goals,” gives participants an opportunity to reflect on their responsibilities and priorities. “We give participants actual paper plates on which they write all of the tasks in their areas of responsibility,” said Mary Steuber, LEAD training manager for Catholic Health Initiatives. “They share their plates with other participants, listening to their opinions on which tasks may take highest priority in the eyes of their staff members, co-workers and leaders.” Once the priorities are identified, participants rank them with consideration for how clearly they contribute to the strategic plans of their organizations and of Catholic Health Initiatives. “When participants think about their priorities from a strategic standpoint, they often identify tasks that take lots of time, but do not contribute to any strategic goals,” said Steuber. “They realize that those tasks may not be priorities after all.” The course also includes a tool participants use to set verifiable goals related to work priorities. The goal-setting tool focuses on being “SMART:” setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-bound. Leaders at Unity Family Healthcare, Little Falls, Minn., have adapted this goal-setting tool for their managers’ use in setting departmental goals. “We needed to give our managers a way to better connect with their employees in setting annual departmental goals,” said Barb Miller, director of St. Camillus Place and of leadership education and development for Unity Family Healthcare. “We use the goal-setting tool from LEAD to help managers communicate with their employees about our organization’s strategic goals and those of Catholic Health Initiatives. This helps employees understand their roles in accomplishing those goals; this, in turn, helps define departmental goals for the year.” During the next year, Unity Family Healthcare plans to add a goal achievement assessment to its appraisal process for managers. “This LEAD course and its tools give managers a rare opportunity to reflect on tasks and goals that will contribute to organizational goals,” said Steuber. “We’re thrilled whenever a market-based organization can use and adapt any of the LEAD tools to develop these and other leadership skills in their managers.” For more information about any of the LEAD courses, contact Mary Steuber at marysteuber@catholichealth.net.