How Toby Cosgrove engages employees to expand The Cleveland Clinic while keeping patients first

Lead people through change When it comes to change, most people aren’t too fond of it, so as Cosgrove took all 37,000 of the clinic’s people through these changes, he stuck to a couple of key principles. “There are two things that help people through change,” he says. “One, involving them in making a plan and understanding the plan, and two, constant, constant, repetitive communication. It takes multiple communication venues in order to get that message across. The more you do it, the more people feel comfortable with it, but involvement in the planning is essential.” Cosgrove involved hundreds of people at every level of change. For example, with the Miller Pavilion, he had nurses help him with planning the nurses’ units. He had mock-ups of the operating rooms, and then he’d have all of the surgeons come in and give their input. He did the same thing with the intensive care unit and did a mock-up of the cath labs and had the cardiologists come in and give their input. Additionally, he traveled to what he thought to be the best facilities to get ideas and feedback. He hired top architects and landscapers. He also talked to food service people and volunteers, and he enlisted consultants and industry experts and got opinions on everything even down to the chairs and beds. Lastly, he talked directly to the patients. He held focus groups with them to see what amenities they wanted to see in the facility and how it should feel and look. “The more people that are involved, the more they have the buy-in, and the more they’ll help, and it’s a multiplier effect,” Cosgrove says. “The multiplier effect comes if it’s your plan — you’re going to go out and sell it.” In addition to involving people as you make the changes, you also need to make sure you’re communicating with them. “I talk to multiple groups every single day,” he says. “It seems like an awful lot of my time [is spent] just talking to people.” Cosgrove communicates with his employees through various venues. He does it in large group settings, small groups, print, television, in-person and through Web sites. “People get their information in different ways, and you have to go to multiple roots to deliver the message,” he says. As you continue to communicate and work your way through, it’s important to also share in the success with your people. “At the end of the success, you celebrate,” Cosgrove says. “As people see success come and they have an opportunity to celebrate success, I think they’re ready for more of it. [It’s] adrenaline. Everybody likes adrenaline, reward and recognition” The Cleveland Clinic had a weeklong celebration in September to commemorate its new facilities, and it even invited all 3,000 of the people who worked on the new facilities and their families to attend. Cosgrove recognized that as more people and employees saw the facilities and saw the future of the organization, they got more excited about it, but again, he says to stay connected to what your core is and not lose yourself in that excitement. “The buildings, the campus, the strategic plan, all hinge around that individual patient and the quality of the care that we deliver for that patient,” he says. “We’ve never lost sight of that, and that has been the point at which we started at.”