Formed from the 2012 merger of several entities with very different secular and denominational cultures, Epicura – a hospital complex in Hainaut – is a complex organisation that faces numerous challenges. In 2014, former consulting industry executive François Burhin was appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer; as such, he presides over the fate of more than 2,500 people. Since then, he has endeavoured to revitalise the managerial culture…
What makes a hospital complex different from other organisations?
Hospitals often have a very strong service- and patient-oriented culture but – historically – a poor managerial culture. They are also under relentless pressure due to better informed patients, more complex technologies and the need to work ever faster to reduce the length and therefore cost of hospitalisation, etc.
So, why change the organisation’s managerial culture?
Firstly, to meet current efficiency and agility requirements, and secondly to improve skills development. Not to mention a challenge specific to Epicura: that of creating a real managerial culture by integrating teams from different entities, despite their distance and the cultural differences between them.
How did you plan to bring about these changes?
From the outset, I decided to focus on training the men and women already in place. So, I quickly put together a substantial budget. But we still need to establish what kind of training is actually needed. That is why I felt it was important to work closely with each of the managers. I therefore asked PerformanSe to support us in assessing all of the group’s managers individually.
What exactly did you ask PerformanSe to do?
PerformanSe offered us a straightforward but comprehensive and very effective solution based on the joint assessment of individual management skills. We began by assessing managers, followed by their direct reports. Then we assessed them all again to see how much progress they had made. We are now preparing for a third round of assessments, probably on a slightly different basis…
How conclusive do you feel this experience has been?
First of all, the assessments – which were carried out during three-way interviews with a PerformanSe consultant and the manager’s direct supervisor – were an opportunity to talk things over and get some perspective, which I think is important. Secondly, they helped the managers identify their strengths and the areas they need to work on. Lastly, the interviews as a whole helped to guide collective discussion and action by highlighting areas where training is really needed, for example interpersonal and professional communication. Of course, this approach is not a cure for all ills, but it plays a key role in bringing about positive change. Because technical skills alone are no longer enough…
“…they helped the managers identify their strengths and the areas they need to work on…”
How would you describe the long-term goals of this progress strategy?
I think it’s important to bring out the best in all Epicura employees. With a view to improving efficiency, since our organisations need to keep pace with the changes in an increasingly demanding environment. But also, with a view to employee recognition, skills development and employability. To attract, recruit and retain the talent that the organisation needs to care for patients! Based on a genuine promise of equality and progress.
A final word?
Allow me to quote a grand gentleman of the consulting business, who was a colleague of mine for many years: “People before strategy”. Workers are increasingly important. In fact, they are more important than anything else. Without them, you wouldn’t be able to do a thing. With them, you will succeed.
Assess, share, progress… Focus on the approach implemented by PerformanSe
PerformanSe has used its Perf Manager tool to meet the needs of Epicura: with the group’s 19 senior executives in 2015, their 50 direct reports in 2016, and the top 70 in 2017.
A three-step approach:
- Everyone completes the self-assessment questionnaire (70 questions, 10 to 15 minutes), which immediately generates a personalised report.
- A three-way meeting to share ideas and feedback, led by a PerformanSe consultant and involving the manager and his or her direct supervisor.
- An analysis and joint summary of the results, and a presentation of potential areas for collective development.
- Enable everyone to step back and take a critical look at their strengths, practices and areas for improvement.
- Enable real managerial sharing.
- Give the group’s management a comprehensive understanding of the overall situation.
- Enable both individual and collective progress to be measured, in successive phases.
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