HOW DO LEADERS IN HOSPITALS THINK ABOUT EXTERNAL CONSULTING?

From my experience as a consultant, leaders in hospitals as experts in their fields are basically not aware of the importance of leadership competence. They primarily lack interest in external coaching and consulting for themselves when leading their employees or managing the different conflicts, especially in times of change. Leaders are used to requesting external consulting for their teams or asking for a technical advisor only in medical processes or financial issues. Apart from specialist knowledge in questions of medical and nursing science, therapeutic skills, skills in medical technology, the development of social and communication competence are indispensable for the professional work of all people in a leadership role. The challenging task for consultancy therefore is to enhance and develop step by step the consciousness of the experts and leaders in hospitals about the benefit of the support by consultancy. This is a long-term project and succeeds only, if the first experiences with consultancy are so supportive and helpful for the clients, that their ambivalence and skepticism towards accepting help from external consultants will be overcome.

I will attempt to describe a concept of consulting for hospitals and also the different learning opportunities which are generated out of the effects of different consulting forms, rules, values, key points, and conditions of planning preparing and implementing all consulting processes. This concept addresses different target groups. I describe all of my consulting activities in relation to leaders, the tasks they have to perform, the problems they have and all the effects resulting from the special situation of leaders and managers in a hospital.

The whole topic of professional consulting in hospitals can be outlined by the following questions:

• How can one increase the learning opportunities for a hospital organization and its leaders and support them through complex forms of consulting?

• How should a consulting concept for a hospital organization be molded in order to integrate the special culture and working conditions in a hospital with the professional approach of a team of external consultants?

• Which types of counseling and consulting are useful, meaningful and sensible to support leading personnel and the organization itself in their general development?

• Which rules must be applied by external consultants on one side and the hospital management and the leaders on the other side in order to produce the best possible effects and results in consulting processes?

• Which commitments, interventions and rules of the concept are helpful in supporting individual and organizational learning in a hospital as well as what is beneficial in promoting connections between organization and leadership development?

• How can one raise awareness of all professionals in a hospital to this basic requirement for the professional treatment of patients? How can one support, in particular, the leaders in a hospital to become progressively more competent and reflective in their communication within the teams, with the patients, among the different professional groups and between the different hierarchy levels within the hospital?

THE "CENTER FOR DEVELOPMENT AND COUNSELING" (CDC) IN GESPAG

Since 2000, I have, as an external consultant, managed, and taken the responsibility for all external consulting activities offered to the employees, leaders and teams within gespag. Step by step I designed a system of assistance, coaching and consulting managers, employees, team leaders, teams, and departments. In 2004 we started with conflict mediation, team development and teambuilding processes. Since the year 2009 we are working on management consultation in individual departments and entire hospitals as well as organization development consulting in cooperation with the department of quality management.

In 2012 about 110 consultants, coaches, psychotherapists, team developers, and mediators are used as external consultants who receive their own contract for each consulting project, to support all clients, asking our consulting services. Since 2010 three persons within CDC have been assigned as external consultants to professionally accompany and organizationally prepare and evaluate all counseling services. The counseling offers comprise six main types that are available for leaders, employees and teams:

1. Team Consulting

2. Casework Consulting

3. Coaching for people in a leadership position

4. Crisis Intervention

5. Conflict Mediation

6. Teambuilding Projects + Organizational Development

7. All types are well described in their purposes, goals, target groups and methods for the clients (see Figure 22.1).

Between the years 2000 and 2011 about 21.760 counseling sessions have been carried out through CDC. About 6,600 employees have thus been supported. Of the 21.760 counseling sessions between the years 2000 and 2011, about 40% were used for team building or development of a department and about 30% were used as coaching for executive managers and management teams.

 
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