I’m new to my position in people development in the Healthcare arena, and since it is not currently possible to explore the context due to COVID restrictions, I’ve been researching in an effort to better understand. For past research endeavors, I’ve often gone to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as a reliable source. OECD produces independent analysis and statistics to promote policies to improve economic and social wellbeing across the globe. So, when global health service leader Mark Britnell quoted OECD research in his book (2019) in reference to how to get everyone on your team to work to their skillset, I was intrigued from both an organizational and people development perspective.
Britnell quotes OECD research that 76% of doctors and 79% of nurses in many countries reported performing tasks for which they were overqualified. He names the reality of nurses who find themselves doing food delivery, transporting patients around the hospital, cleaning patients’ rooms and equipment, and collecting supplies, or completing what they see as ‘non-essential’ paperwork. His essential point is that we can be more efficient with human resources. Each person has a distinct role and it is important to clearly define roles and responsibilities and for people to work to their skillset.
The People Development team I work with supports healthcare leaders in manager and director roles and this research underscores the importance of their role in helping professionals to work at the limits of their license and ensuring that every member of the team knows what those limits are.
Drawing on my special education background, I’ll use the term ‘functional task analysis’ as a helpful way to evaluate what is necessary in terms of sequential steps in specific work tasks. If managers in any context can engage a task analysis with the goal of simplifying, standardizing, and strengthening delivery, this can result in greater efficiencies, higher standards, increased leadership confidence, and less burnout.
The example Britnell refers to is described in a resource: The Practical Approach to Care Kit (PACK) guide:(https://gh.bmj.com/content/3/Suppl_5/e000962) which sets out clear diagnostic, management, and referral guidelines for the primary health team. PACK color-codes every step to help each professional in the team identify which of them has the authority to carry out each task.
The takeaway: No matter what industry or context, it’s important for leaders to work towards getting the right people doing the right things.
Here are some action-oriented questions for reflection:
- What is one thing you can do a ‘task analysis’ on and start the discussion of redesigning work with your team?
- How might this approach be controversial with staff?
- How can you create unity of purpose around such an improvement program?
Britnell, M. (2019). Human Solving the Global Workforce Crisis in Healthcare. (2019). Oxford University Press. P. 72-74.