Leadership Development in Healthcare

Next in our RelateCare Consultancy and Advisory series, we talk to our Director of Learning and Development, Brendan Magan about the philosophy behind RelateCare’s Leadership training and development solutions.

Brendan Magan has over twenty years’ experience deploying and optimizing learning and development solutions across the globe within an array of service industries. Brendan’s background in educational design and leadership development allows him to focus on providing healthcare organizations with the tools, techniques, attitude and knowledge needed to reach their maximum potential through programs such as patient engagement and experience, employee engagement, and leadership development Brendan has several qualifications from the Irish Institute for Training and Development (IITD) and to date, has supported several clients in establishing  learning and development environments with their organizations.

Has last year has changed your approach to learning and development in the healthcare contact center?

“If the last year has taught us anything it is just how important and valuable it is to identify and invest in the skills, attitude, and knowledge needed to lead a frontline dynamic workforce.

So many organizations were faced with huge disruption to how they operate, with many healthcare contact centers – including ourselves – being forced to pivot to a ‘work-from-home’ model in a short amount of time. What this revealed to me was just how important it is to have leaders throughout your organization who can not only adapt themselves, but take their employees with them, and prepare and support them to cope with new challenges while maintaining focus on the patient experience.

In a sense then, the last year has reaffirmed my belief in the importance of training and developing leaders. Not only to deal with crises, but we are all too aware of the ever-changing needs of customers and employees in these difficult times, and how we engage and develop our leaders has a direct impact on the customer, patient and employee experience.”

How do you adapt learning and development methods to this new way of working?

“One thing I would be wary of is the explosion of certain kinds of apps and digital tools that present themselves as the perfect panacea for how we engage remote staff. I’m talking about certain Learning Management Systems and Artificial Intelligence tools that claim all these benefits for improving skills and attitudes, yet are not backed up by the science or by research.

With the development of remote working there can be even more pressure on organizations to shift their learning and development exclusively to virtual apps and portals where the employee is guided by the app itself and expected to learn by themselves.

We have lost sight of the proven and successful traditional methods of engagement and learning that have proven results over hundreds of years!”

Are you saying we place too much emphasis on technology to allow employees to learn on their won?

“Yes. A lot of modern approaches to learning place more and more ownership and responsibility on the learner to engage in the process themselves. And to an extent this is understandable. But when we think of great athletes at the top of their game, the very best in the world, like Tiger Woods or Tom Brady, they still have coaches and need constant coaching. Why is that? It’s because we need the perspective of someone else who can see the bigger picture to help us ‘see the forest from the trees’. When we are actively engaged in a task it becomes difficult to see the broader strategy and goals.

It’s the same in the healthcare contact center. Yes – we need to empower employees to take responsibility, but we need leaders to be a consistent element in the employees learning opportunities. Leaders need to work with employees to ensure that tasks are all directed towards great goals and broader vision This is why I tend to focus on the leader development and increased awareness of traditional learning processes.”

When you say ‘traditional learning processes’ what do you have in mind?

“Learning can be defined in many ways, but most learning experts would agree that it is a relatively permanent change in behavior that results from experience. The key elements of this definition are ‘permanent change’ and ‘experience’. As an organization, we use a variety of learning methods with our clients and staff.

It might be helpful to take a look at The Learning Methods Pyramid as a way of conceptualizing the kinds of approaches we use.

The learning pyramid is a popular learning model and representation relating different degrees of retention induced from various type of learning.

While there is some controversy around findings, in general it is accepted that studies show that varying your study methods and materials will improve your retention and recall of information, and enhance your learning experience.

Developed by the National Training Laboratory, the pyramid suggests that most students only remember about 10% of what they read from textbooks, but retain nearly 90% of what they learn through teaching others. The Learning Pyramid model suggests that some methods of study are more effective than others and that varying study methods will lead to deeper learning and longer-term retention.

We have engaged learners with the classroom-based training methods that address the following methods:

  • Lecture
  • Reading
  • Audio-visual
  • Demonstration
  • Discussion

But, where our opportunities lay are in the final two learning methods, which have the greatest probability of retention, Practice Doing and Teaching Others, and the following will outline avenues that we can use from the perspective of engaging our leaders in their learning and our leaders engaging their teams in their learning.

How are these methods integrated into RelateCare’s training solutions?

“The development of the Skills transfer coaching model is a good example, where we give the leader the 5-step coaching model (Explain, demonstrate, practice with coaching, observation, feedback). This model encompasses the doing and teaching elements that I referred to above.

Other techniques we employ include:

  1. Follow-up: post-learning session to be followed up by the leader’s line manager. As learning is defined as observable behaviors, the leaders are ideally positioned to make these observations supported by the learning & development functions with RelateCare.
  2. Pre-learning engagement: we make the assumption that our learners should already have some level of knowledge of the subject been covered, which is the case in many of our sessions. This can have a negative impact of the learning experience, with individuals seeing themselves as proficient or knowledgeable already, they tend to either attempt to take over the session or are disengaged with the session. Engagement with materials pre-learning would ensure that everyone has a more even knowledge of the subject matter.
  3. Subject Matter Experts (SME’s): our business has an abundance of SMEs that have the potential to support the learning experience, and knowledge transfer. Usage of these individuals is highly recommended across the business to develop a common knowledge of the subject matter and also address the SMEs development needs.
  4. Group projects: currently some of us suffering from not seeing the wood from the trees, and primarily driven by the reactive nature of our business especially over the past year plus. We focus on development through delegation and this is something that serves as a means of delegating for the senior leaders and managers.

Ultimately, we cannot lose sight of what works when it comes to training, leadership and development. Using online, digital and virtual platforms and apps to transfer information is certainly worthwhile, but it needs to be supplemented with a focus on giving leaders the opportunity to practice their tasks, and become fully comfortable with sharing that knowledge with their staff. This is what will take the level of quality and care to the highest level. And this is what RelateCare can help you achieve.”

If you are interested in learning more about RelateCare’s Training and Leadership Development solutions, then please get in touch with us at info@relatecare.com