VA Palo Alto motivated team members by formalizing their roles and regularly recognizing their achievements.
Creating a transitions program involves a lot of process and culture change. We broke the work up into teams, but we were still asking people to take on new responsibilities without necessarily cutting down on their existing tasks. We were concerned about getting push back so needed a way to incentivize and motivate team members.
VA Palo Alto is a government-affiliated teaching hospital in Palo Alto, CA. It has 885 beds and serves primarily English-speaking US veterans with comorbidities requiring both acute and chronic care. Their transitions program began in 2012 and is influenced by Project RED.
What We Tried
Everyone who was assigned to lead a team received an official charge letter signed by the associate director of patient services explaining their added responsibilities. As part of this new role, they also had the opportunity to directly share their progress with senior leadership of the hospital. Finally, we try to regularly recognize each team’s achievements with the greater hospital staff and leadership.
All of these measures helped ensure the success of our program. The charge letter made the program more official, so team leads realized their role was a serious gig and not just a flavor of the month. That responsibility was balanced with the opportunity to share their progress with senior leadership. This was an opportunity that they rarely had and made them proud to take on the new responsibilities. The regular recognition also helped with that—when someone notices the hard work you’ve put in, it motivates you to work harder.
We try to look hard for achievements to recognize. Too often we focus on outcome measures, but there are many process improvements that deserve recognition as well.