When a request to help the community comes across his desk, Mickey Smith has a hard time saying no.
But that’s OK: If Smith can show his 850 employees how being involved in the project would benefit them as a person, there is a good possibility someone will volunteer.
And not only does volunteering help both the community and the individual, it also gets the hospital’s name out in a positive light.
Smith says that if an employee is out helping the community and saying good things about the hospital which posted 2006 revenue of about $126 million that becomes the organization’s face in the community. Volunteering also offers a great opportunity for employees to do something together outside of the intensity of the workplace, he says.
Smart Business spoke with Smith about why communication has to be an ongoing thing and how being a basketball referee helps him lead.
Believe in yourself. I attended some excellent schools and am very proud of the academic part of my training. But, the very best training I received for this job was as a basketball referee. Because, as a basketball referee, you spend a lot of time studying the rules don’t even get to call a game until you pass a test on it.
Every two weeks, everybody gets together and does rule review together. You are put into the position where you are out there making decisions based on rules that you’ve really studied, and you have a bunch of people who never bothered to look at the rules who want to second-guess what your decision is.
As a referee, at least half of the people aren’t going to like the decision that you make, and they are going to scream and yell at you about that and you’ve got to basically learn to make quick decisions without being affected by a bunch of people screaming and yelling who, by the way, don’t know the rules.
And also, if I am doing a good job in my mechanics, I’m within a few feet of where I am making the decision, whereas all these other people who are screaming and yelling are hundreds of feet away. It really was great training because you have to make the best decision you can at the time, you need to make it timely, and you can’t worry too much about the other folks and the screaming and yelling that goes on. You’ve got to do the very best in that situation.
Repeat your message. In any communication, what I’ve learned over time is that, No. 1, you can’t just tell the message once. If it’s an important message, it’s got to be repeated multiple times. And the other thing is, you can’t just use one mode to communicate the message. You need to do it in writing; you need to do it in person.
You’ve got to use multiple modes if you want to reach that wide and diverse a group. About once a month, I send an e-mail out to everybody in the organization and just give them an update of what is going on.
Use a multiple interview format. If it’s a case of a department manager, the senior management team would interview that individual. We’d get a group of our department managers or peers who would interview that individual, and then we would get a sampling of the folks that would directly report to that position and they interview, as well.
It’s really effective because sometimes I’ll interview somebody, and I’ll think, ‘Man, they are really slick,’ and then they’ll go in and be interviewing with the folks that report to them and either treat them poorly or say something that may be different than what they told me. So, the more heads you have, probably the better decision you are going to make.
The other thing is when the peers and the direct reports interview and then make a recommendation to me about the hire; all of a sudden, they’ve got some skin in the game, in terms of that person being successful, as opposed to, I go out and hire somebody and I throw them into a position, and then everybody sits back and waits to see if they sink or swim. So, there is more of that vested interest in that person being successful if they’ve been the one recommending that that’s who we hire.
One of the huge challenges for me is that I’m the baby boomer generation, and so I do not understand the Generation Xers and Yers. I’m from the generation that I live to work; they’re from the generation where they work to live. So, the things that might motivate me don’t motivate them. So, I always need help in terms of making sure that we’ve got the environment that’s also attractive to that group.
Keep yourself grounded. I had a real interesting experience. After being a CEO for many years, I left that to start consulting. I had been CEO long enough that I had a fairly high opinion of myself because people seemed to do what I asked them to do, and they were always friendly and wanting to meet me and have lunch with me, and I must have been a very popular and good-looking person for all the attention I got.
So, all of a sudden, you go out into consulting and you think that all of this is not because you are CEO or your position, you think it’s because, ‘Hey it’s me.’ That’s not the case.
You get deference due to position. I try to always remember not to take all that stuff so seriously or think that I’m so great because I had the experience of folks that would do anything to spend time with me, but then, when I was out in consulting, they didn’t have the time of day for me.
HOW TO REACH: Oak Hill Hospital, (352) 596-6632 or www.oakhillhospital.com