Production line Featured

7:00pm EDT January 26, 2009

Joyce Anderson follows the numbers religiously to gauge employee productivity levels. And no, she doesn’t just check the financials.

As CEO of Florida Orthopaedic Institute, Anderson uses management by statistics to measure employee and company performance. Combined with effective and open employee communication, her style is a recipe for honesty, productivity, growth and empowerment, she says.

“People are a lot more productive if you put them on a statistical system because they know what’s expected of them, and you know what should be able to be done by that position,” Anderson says.

In an industry that involves never-ending training of staff and updating materials based on new procedures and laws, Anderson must continue to be flexible and keep the lines of communication open when it comes to managing her 500 employees at the $62 million company.

Smart Business spoke with Anderson about how to identify concrete goals and how to communicate in a way that motivates and empowers employees.

Follow the numbers. I do management by statistics, which means we staticize the different areas of the organization from each individual staff member to each department to each of the executives. Each of them has quality and quantity types of statistics. Then we monitor those on a regular basis weekly.

When a statistic goes down, we go in and find out why it goes down to try to correct any issues. Then if it goes up, we find out why it goes up. Then we bolster those things that cause the statistics to improve.

It works. It takes out the opinion, it takes out the politics. It removes those types of things that make it unfair, and you judge a person by their performance. You can hear all sorts of rumors, you can hear people say things, but the statistics can actually have a quantitative item of, ‘Is that person doing their job; how do they compare to their peers?’

The statistics allow you to empower people. I let my managers and directors run with their stuff because I can monitor it through statistics. If the statistics dropped a little bit, they can say, ‘Hey, this dropped. This is how I’m going to fix it.’

It’s a continuous process. Any time we see a problem, we can then take a look at the statistics and see if we need to refine it.

You have to define your statistic correctly, or you get something inadvertently you might not want. You have to be able to specifically identify the statistic very well and manage those.

Start with the product. What product do we want for this department? How can we measure this? Where are we going to get the information? You don’t want the gathering of statistics to be a painful process.

Set concrete goals to see real growth and progress. Underlying these statistics themselves is the product. The statistic is just a measure of are you producing the products you want to produce.

Set your goal and then look at where you are right now, what the existing scene is. Then, step by step, work out how to realize what we would call your ideal scene, what is your ultimate goal. You have to be realistic in what the existing scene is, and it has to be something that is measured in a concrete manner. So you can see at the end of the process whether you actually achieved it or not.

If you say, ‘Work on training materials,’ you can’t judge that at the end of the quarter. You worked on training materials, but what did you actually do? Did you complete anything?

We like to do it in a concrete format, so that at the end of the time, you can say, ‘This is clearly done.’ You have to really make those things identifiable as things that can be completed.

Communicate in a way that will boost morale. To me, there are three basic ways to deal with a person. One is enhancement, taking what they are saying and saying, ‘OK, let’s work out how we can improve this or go from here.’

Then there’s domination, do this or else. And then there’s nullification, which is saying, ‘You’re basically nothing; my dog could have done a better job than you.’

My viewpoint is enhancement is the only appropriate way to communicate, and that’s in life just as well as it is in business.

We all know that there’s room for improvement in anything. The second you go into invalidating something they’ve done or being very negative, the person is on the defensive and spends all their time justifying instead of producing.

I try to point out how they could do something better or how I might have done it to get a better result. Using enhancement motivates better because they know you’re working with them. You’re saying, ‘How can we do this better? How can we not have this outcome next time?’

The ability to communicate means not just talking but the interchange of ideas. It’s not talking at a person. Part of the time you’re listening and actually figuring out what they’re saying.

You have to identify from their questions and their responses whether they can actually understand what you’re saying. You have to get it into a situation where, given the situation, you ask them, ‘How would you use that?’ So then you can think through how they would actually go about doing it.

HOW TO REACH: Florida Orthopaedic Institute, (813) 978-9700 or www.floridaortho.com