Mike Powers: Move Beyond ‘It’s Just Political’

Recently, I was talking with a colleague and mentioned that a new role he was considering with another organization was indeed a great opportunity, but that it may be wise to temper his expectations. Since the new organization was a university-based healthcare delivery organization (HDO), I told him that it was in all likelihood quite a “political” environment. He disagreed with more than a little enthusiasm, setting in motion a wonderful conversation.

As a member of my organization’s clinical engineering department, I subscribe to many of the usual stereotypes—I work in the basement, next to the morgue. I am also more introverted than extroverted, like many clinical engineers that I have met and work with. That is to say that I recharge my batteries with more solitary moments.

I have also found that, in my day to day, it is more important for an equipment end user to have that moment of human interaction—that effort to rebuild their faith in the device—than it is to have a more expedient return to service. I would go as far as to say that most would be willing to wait longer for a return to service if it came with better communication.

My colleague and I expressed all of these thoughts in the course of our conversation, and then the solution for how to sidestep the “it’s political” concern came out—have a conversation! I’m lucky to work in a place where there is a very diverse set of talents and employees from all backgrounds with unique perspectives and skill sets. When each person is treated with compassion and understanding, work politics seem to diminish.

That was a familiar “a-ha!” moment. Yes, a stakeholder might have a different perspective on which cost center funds service contracts, or a unique view on bench stock versus just-in-time procurement, but they also have those views because they want the best for the HDO’s patients. A conversation may not come easy, especially if, like me, you prefer a more introverted route. But many of the best ideas shine through on their own if the time is taken to talk with that stakeholder.

So, respect their perspective. Use data and industry best practices to make your point if need be. But always make sure you take the time to ask, and to take ownership of your actions and perspectives. Solicit the feedback, and—although that can be scary—it may be the beginning of diffusing what was previously just chalked up as, “it’s political.”

Mike Powers is a clinical engineering supervisor for Christiana Care Health System in Newark, DE.

One thought on “Mike Powers: Move Beyond ‘It’s Just Political’

  1. That is good insight and advise.
    This works great when all parts discuss with each other with open minded conversation to reach a goal that benefits the whole part.
    There are those that are the “I am right whether I’m right or not”. A quick example the current CEO in the WH.
    The best suggestion I could give agree to disagree and table the conversation even for a few hours. Then make sure to information is set in granite with some more flexible or interpretative fall back information to give both a point that either one could use as an out if the discussion is going “no where”. After checking your motivation, to may sure this discussion necessary, then it’s time to continue the conversation.
    Remember there is always a point where mediation could be needed. Never get angry, resentful or bitter these things will hurt only you in the long run. There is no first aide for hitting you head again wall and expecting the other person to get the headache.

    Why people can’t be flexible and open enough to at least consider to opposing view is beyond me.

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