Although it's nearly a cliché , it's hard to criticize the principle that the best way to satisfy your customers is to satisfy your employees. Still, it's one thing to advocate such a policy in a company and quite another to make it a reality. Quinton Studer, president of Baptist Hospital, a 5,000-employee facility in Pensacola, Fla., has done both. When Studer arrived, Baptist's admissions were flat, and patient satisfaction, as measured by a national survey, was slightly below average. Studer has used rigorous goal-setting and measurement methods to make the hospital more effective at satisfying both its employees and its patients.
Studer went to Pensacola in June 1996, after a stint as senior vice president at Holy Cross Hospital in Chicago. He spent the next several years at Baptist developing a management model based on his previous experience as a special education teacher. "Maximizing an organization's ability is similar to maximizing a child's potential," Studer says. "The first step is to diagnose the situation and then set achievable goals. The higher the goals, the closer the student or organization comes to reaching full potential. Every 90 days the teacher does an individual education plan to ensure that all resources directed to the child are aligned with the goals. And at the end of a year, old goals are reassessed and new ones are set."
Studer believes that measurement, as well as goal setting, was key to the improvements Baptist achieved. "We decided we had to have a measurable service goal," he says. "I believe you have to measure what's important to you, and that you have to have some means of comparison." While that's the basic plan, Studer has refined his system over the years and brought it to the point where it could be replicated, not only in other hospitals but also in any service business.
In Baptist's case, management met with all the employees and talked about the hospital's purpose, its reason for existing. "Everyone at the hospital said that they wanted to be the best," Studer recalls. "Becoming the employer of choice also became a goal at Baptist." Here's how Baptist rates patient and employee satisfaction plus employee performance:
Despite his emphasis on setting goals and measuring results, Studer believes that a leader's personal commitment matters, too. "You have to really believe in what you're doing," he says. "When I got to Baptist, I said, 'We're going to be the best hospital in the country,' and somebody said, 'Quint, you mean county.' I said, 'No, I mean country.' You have to decide what you want to do, act on that decision, and look at the results."