April 2000

Leadership Letter from Robert Lanik, Gary Rowe,
and Joseph Swedish

400leaders Photo

In health care today, all kinds of pressures, both internal and external, can lead to a decline in financial performance. When the decline becomes too steep, as it did for our market-based organizations, it calls for decisive turnaround action. Our three turnaround situations, and our solutions, are very different from each other. One called for a painful layoff of valued employees; one for the separation of a recently acquired clinic; and one for the reversal of work that others had undertaken with the best of intentions. But, while each turnaround is unique, some constants apply to all situations in which a market-based organization must make and implement difficult decisions.

Clear, consistent communication is important when times are good but especially when an organization is in trouble. Communicating the reality of a serious financial situation is important to earning the trust and support of all the people whose help is needed in a turnaround: employees/associates, medical staff, local church leaders, patients and even the general public. People can cope much better with a situation they understand than with rumor and uncertainty.

The mission and ministry of faith-based organizations like ours is a great strength in a turnaround situation. Ministries with roots that reach 100 years or more into the past provide a foundation for recovery and revitalization that cannot be replicated. The sense of belonging that is created by a shared mission and ministry also helps sustain the commitment and performance of an organization’s staff during a time of challenge.

Turnaround situations require an incredible amount of time, analysis and commitment from all those involved – and that’s just in the beginning stages. The work that follows is detailed and demanding. However, there is a profound and immeasurable satisfaction in putting a market-based organization back on a growth track. Achieving a level of performance that helps to safeguard the future of our mission and ministry is a great reward for everyone associated with our market-based organizations.