Listen to Moments Move Us Season 2 Episode 9: Leading with Vulnerability with Sylvain Trepanier
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New Podcast Episode: Leading with Vulnerability with Sylvain Trepanier
What You’ll Learn:
Great teams have great coaches who recognize the potential of each member. Linda McHugh was happy in her job, working as assistant to the CEO of Cleveland Clinic, implementing their policy changes as the company grew.
When the CHRO of the company left, Linda was prepared to begin looking for another qualified individual to fill the position, but the CEO stopped her with one sentence: “I think you can do this job.”
Today, Linda serves as EVP, Chief Experience and People Officer at Hackensack Meridian Health, bringing the same challenge to all employees. She sees healthcare as “the ultimate team sport,” and she makes that team as strong and connected as possible.
Listen to learn more about how Linda’s vision for people-first healthcare applies to staffing, technology, and improving patient experience.
THEMES: Mentorship, Imposter Syndrome, Innovation, Growth Mindset, Psychological Safety
“I started my career right out of college as a medical technologist in the laboratory working in microbiology. I spent probably nine years in the lab ending up as a supervisor there and decided that couldn’t be where I spent the rest of my career. I needed to interact with people, and I had learned all that I was going to learn there. I like to consider myself a lifelong learner, so if I start getting bored, I’m looking for the next thing. And so I went back to school, got my MBA, and I was lucky enough that a few people took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to go into leadership roles.”
“[I] had a great learning experience and great mentors and teachers that saw my potential and gave me opportunities. I ultimately ended up working directly with the Chairman of Cardiac Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic to set up cardiac surgery programs. [When] he became the CEO, he made me basically his Chief of Staff, and I worked in that role and helped him actualize all of his ideas that he had over about 10 years to help grow the Cleveland Clinic. And he had been talking to me about, ‘What’s next? What do you want to do? What’s your career aspirations?’ And I said, ‘I’m enjoying what I’m doing. This is really fun. We did a lot of innovative things. We created a lot of programs.’ Our CHRO ended up leaving and [our CEO] came into my office one Friday and said he thought of someone [to replace our CHRO.] He said, ‘I think you can do this job.’ I hadn’t even considered that as an option, and I said, ‘Can I think about it over the weekend?’ I went home and told my husband, and my husband said, ‘The CEO is asking you to take an important job and he thinks you can do it. You have to give it a try.’ So I did, and I loved it. I thrived in it. My passion is always patients, and the team members, and the people that care for them, and figuring out what’s the best way we can support our team members so that they can provide the best possible care for our patients. And it’s all interconnected. And that’s why I’m really happy in my current role at Hackensack Meridian Health, that I have both the opportunity to influence the team member experience as well as the patient experience.”
“Having that individual conversation that says, ‘What are your aspirations, and what’s your individual development plan?’ There may be people that are happy with what they’re doing, but I think sometimes you have to push and tell them what the possible is, particularly if you see potential in them to do more or to grow even in what they’re doing currently. [For example,] they’re a nurse on the floor that might be really good at identifying issues that others don’t. They may make a great ICU nurse, and you could say, ‘Have you thought about going to the ICU? Have you thought about some of the skills that you want to grow outside of what you’re currently doing that might enhance your practice?’ Having those individual conversations is what we’ve been talking with our leaders about in our coaching model.
The leader as a coach, that’s part of their job is identifying those strengths, and then leveraging them, and helping that team member grow and focus on their strengths. A strength-based model is the best thing for anybody in anything. You always like to do the things that you’re good at.”
“We’ve been focusing on creating a highly reliable organization, and the basics of it is psychological safety: making it safe for someone to speak up if they see something, or if they want to stop something from happening to speak up, or to report it after the fact so that we can learn from it. We’re doing a high reliability training for all of our leaders, but we are also working on creating a Good Catch Program and Good Catch Awards. Storytelling is so powerful. Telling the stories about team members that have spoken up and prevented harm to a patient or to a coworker. As we talk about anxiety in the workplace/anxiety in society, that’s been escalating in the U.S. and has turned in some cases into violence. Making sure that people speak up if they see something that’s just not right, whether it’s in care that’s being provided or in behaviors that they’re seeing. We’re really excited to launch this Good Catch Program and our goal is to capture all this data and then provide awards and rewards to the team members that do come forward.”
“I’ve really been thinking about how do we leverage technology? Any kind of digital interaction with our patients, and technology to support the bedside caregiver. As well as being flexible in how we do scheduling. How can we be more flexible in how we resolve things and reduce the bureaucracy and the inefficiency and the operations. Leveraging technology so that we can communicate with the patients, provide them easier access, and get them to the place and time of care that we need, they need at that point in time.
We’re going to pilot a virtual nursing program to supplement the care that’s provided at the bedside. There will be a nurse that will come through a monitor in the patient’s room to talk through admission, to talk through the plan for discharge, what the plan of care is, what’s going to happen day one, and based on that, what we’re going to do day two. We’re setting ourselves up to have constant communication in one form or another, whether it’s digital or whether it’s in person, and figuring out what patients’ preferences are. Figuring out what they want, and how do we use technology to get there. All of that is what the future of a personalized care-experience looks like that then eases the burden on the caregivers.”
“[I recently received a note from a team member whose family member had a serious medical condition.] It was just so heartwarming, she went through all the care that she received, how wonderful it was. She ended it by saying, ‘And on top of all of that, my family member is doing better, but I did not get a bill because our health insurance is so well constructed that I used all of the HMH resources that were available to me and understood what that was. If I didn’t have this healthcare at this level, I don’t know what I would’ve done because I couldn’t have afforded it somewhere else.’ And so, it was both sides: a great experience, a great outcome. And the benefit that we provided her through the medical plan made her feel financially safe.”
“The sting of how hard [COVID-19] was in the beginning will never go away, because we lost so many people in a sudden way. I think we’ll remember that it was really hard and we were praying for a solution and the solution came. And the majority of the people came on board, and we solved it, we lived through it, we improvised, we innovated. We figured out how to get through it, how to take care people, and how to improve the outcomes even before we got the vaccine. And I think the anger that happened after the fact, of people not being vaccinated and then getting sick and showing up in the hospital won’t fade. I think people have developed somewhat of a tolerance of choice. Some people made that choice even though it impacted the healthcare providers because they had to still take care of them and their families. But I think that it’ll all be a sorrow, but also proud innovation and that we got through it. The resilience that it built in people. If I got through that, I can get through anything.”
“We have to be partners as strategic partners with our frontline caregivers and their leaders to really understand what their needs are and how we can help them grow and thrive.”
“It does incredible things for people when you’re recognized for your abilities, and you’re truly given authentic appreciation and credit for what ideas you brought to the table.”
“It has to be consistent, transparent, communication and the same message. Not a different message, always the same message, and it’s amplified with the stories. Truly anything that takes hold is about consistency and it’s about empowering local leaders to celebrate those moments.”
“Healthcare is the ultimate team sport. It’s almost a team of teams taking care of that patient and sharing information because it’s key for everyone to be on the same page about what’s next.”
“When people see people that look like them that have made that leap, they say, she did it. I can do it, too.”
“We’re ready to take care of the complex issues people have out there. That’s our tagline now: We’re ready.”
Explore transformative stories from healthcare executives as they share impactful moments of human connection from their professional journeys.