A book changed Jho Outlaw’s life. As a long-time finance department manager, she was human resource’s dream – enforcing every policy – but she was bored and saw herself as a babysitter of adults. Then she read Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson’s “Work Sucks and How to Fix It.”
“The ‘Work Sucks’ book was the book that changed my life. I mean it changed my life,” she said. “Work sucked for me, too, even though I was career oriented and I had promotions and I had made a good living. I still say work sucked pretty much, but now it doesn’t.”
The reason work doesn’t suck for Outlaw any more – and the reason Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals ranked first in the large hospitals category of Healthcare Finance News’ inaugural “Where to Work: BEST Hospital Finance Departments” – is because the finance department instituted a results-only work environment.
“We went from an environment that judged work on what work looks like to what work is,” Outlaw said. “It doesn’t matter where you get it done or how you get it done or when you get it done. It just matters that you get it done – as long as it's legal, moral and ethical.”
In order to establish a results-only work environment, the way things got done in the department had to change. The department started by developing self-directed work teams and clearly defined roles and expectations. Employees were also given the option of working from home.
The change has been remarkable. There are no more sore feelings because employees who look like they’re doing work are not getting away with not doing work; innovation is encouraged; people work collaboratively and managers are freed from micromanaging and better able to support staff.
The department went from mediocre employee satisfaction scores to being the largest department with the highest scores.
“The autonomy to get it done how they wanted, when they wanted and where they wanted was the key to the turn around,” said Outlaw. “Removing the strict barriers – the confinements that people were held in – and trusting people to get it done made the difference.