Jim Pope says dealing with his employees is a lot like dealing with his kids. He has four children and about 550 employees, and
the common thread between them is that they all want something different from him. As the president and CEO of the WRH
Health System, which operates Wadsworth-Rittman Hospital, Pope has a diverse work force. And like different children in the
same family, a radiologist and pharmacist have different needs and wants, and Pope’s job as CEO is to provide them with the
tools they need to do their job well. Smart Business spoke with Pope about how improving your organization is like improving
your time in the 40-yard dash.
Know when to let others lead. Sometimes you
also have to be intuitive enough to know
when you shouldn’t be leading. Somebody
else within your organization should be
taking the lead on something.
Maybe it’s important that a physician
takes the lead on something as opposed to
me, because it has to do with the medical
staff. You have to know when it’s time to
help the people working for you to grow
and learn how to lead.
How do you know when that’s a good
decision? You’ll see it in people, you’ll feel
it in people. It’s the person that walks into
your office and says, ‘Jim, I’ve got an idea,’
or ‘I was just thinking about this.’ It’s the
person who e-mails you at 2 in the morning
and says, ‘I was awake this morning, and I
was thinking about this.’
If you take the time to listen and look at
what’s going on in people’s minds, you’ll
know when they need to be let go a little
bit, and let grow a little bit. And they will
make you successful.
Keep your eyes on the organization’s direction.
You have to first know where you are.
You’ve got to know what your strengths are
and what your weaknesses are. You’ve got
to know what’s going on around you.
You’ve got to know what you’re good at.
Is what you’re good at, what the area
you’re working within needs? You begin to
develop a picture of who you are.
In setting a vision, you start with where
you are, then look into the future and say,
in a perfect world, what should we look
like? What kind of service should we provide? What are those key priorities that
allow you to get to that point?
If you remember the Apollo astronauts,
on their trips to the moon they were off
course 90 to 95 percent of the time. Not
majorly off course, but off course. They
had retro-rockets on those spaceships, and
they would fire them from time to time to
get themselves back on course.
Any kind of business is like that. You start
out with where you’re going, and you make
a decision, you say, ‘We’re heading this
direction.’ By evaluating metrics, you measure what kind of volume we’re getting in.
What kind of patient are we getting? Are
they coming from certain areas? Are we
growing in Seville, are we growing in
Rittman? What are we doing with our metrics? That will tell you if you’re off course,
and you make course corrections all along
the way. Eventually, you get to where you
need to be.
Be ready to change. The trip to the moon was
truly only the beginning of what we would
define as what we’re doing in space. We
learned from that; we’ve reached that
vision, if you will, but we have to continue
to look for where we go from there. Every
minute of every day, it’s changing.
Successful businesses know that occasionally, the moon gets moved and the
vision that you had isn’t going to take you
there. Yeah, you’ll get to the moon, but
that’s not where you need to be anymore.
If you have to change directions, we constantly go back to the buggy whip manufacturer. If that’s what you did forever, you’d be out of business. They’ve moved
your moon. Now they’ve got motorized
cars with wheels, so what are you going to
do to be successful? Maybe since you work
with leather, you’re making seats for those
It’s looking for a way to modify your business to meet that vision, and that business
is ever-changing. And successful businesses know that. They don’t hold to just one
vision of the future. They are constantly
looking to see, ‘What would our vision look
like if we went left a little bit? What if we
went right a little bit?’
That’s why I stress over and over again
the need for metrics, statistics and data
that show you how you are reaching your
vision, how you’re moving forward. Those
are the retro-rockets; those are the gauges
on your dashboard.
Work to reach your full potential. The challenge
with any organization is the vision. Once
you’ve been in a location, it’s easy to get
caught up in day-to-day operations of an
organization, and not where we’re going
for the future.
We’ve looked at saying ‘How do you create an organization where everyone feels
like they’re a part of that vision?’ What it is
in any organization is trying to help people
understand you’re not at your full potential.
We were having a conversation with my
son the other day, talking about the
[National Football League’s] pro combine.
One of my relative’s children runs a 4.5
[second] 40-yard dash. That’s pretty fast,
but it’s not world-class speed.
My son was quick to say that when you’re
in college, they can teach your body how to
be faster. They can drop you from a 4.5 to a
4.4 by training different parts of your muscle groups to be faster.
It’s the same with any organization. You
can say, ‘We may be running really fast;
maybe we are running a 4.5. But what do
we need to do to run a 4.3?’ You need to
find what you need to do as an organization to get better, to get quicker.
HOW TO REACH: WRH Health System, (330) 334-1504 or