Medical facilities need leaders to mentor, control, manage, implement, and make strategic decisions that facilitate delivery of quality, timely, and affordable medical care services. Leadership is an art of managing and developing strategies to be followed in an organization: the delivery of quality medical services depends on the quality of leaders that a medical facility maintains. In contemporary Australian medical care services industry, which has private and public medical facilities, leaders have the role of shaping and guiding their facility to meeting its corporate goal and objective. Leadership starts with the president of a facility and trickles down to nurse leaders or team managers (Hambrick, Finkelstein & Mooney 2005: 480). In whichever the position, there is power vested in the leader that needs to be used in an appropriate manner to facilitate success. Australian medical facilities are undergoing numerous changes thus leaders in the facilities have to be alert and robust to make decisions that are responsive to the changing business environment; the decisions made by leaders determine the success of an organization; they have the role of mentoring and creating a learning environment to enhance the performance of their teams. When challenges befall a medical facility, effective leaders do not shy off from addressing the root-cause of the problem, they devise the best alternative to deal with the situation and probably manage future chance of a re-occurrence (Avenell 2005: 34). This paper discusses the challenges facing leaders in contemporary Australian medical care facilities and the way they have dealt with the challenges.
Challenges facing leaders
Building a winning team
Diversity in the medical care facility has lead to different caber of employees within the Australian medical care facilities; Australia has embraced globalization thus there are a number of international students who are taking medical related courses in the country and they end up getting employment in the country. On the other hand, the industry recruits talents and expertise from different parts of the globe thus medical facilities is likely to have people of diverse cultures, believes and backgrounds. Different personalities, expertise, age and experiences should be combined and team leader elected; the challenge is how to blend the differences offered by diversity to come up with a winning team (Pielstick, 2005:120).
When people come together, each individual beliefs, values, and expectation from the other person are shaped by the communities and socialization that each individual went through, the problem comes when there was a difference in the way one beliefs which is contrarily to the believe of the others. Leaders have the challenge of ensuring that the believes does not affect the delivery of quality services and in case of anything, they combine the powers and strengths of the groups to the good of the facility. For example, there are some Muslim nurses operating in the Australian medical care industry; according to the tradition and cultural believes, men are considered superior and have the controlling power. In case a nurse leader happens to be a lady from a different religious group, who is mandated to lead and instruct Muslim men working under her then some adjustments to make the environment favorable need to be done; this is a challenge to a leader who has to make the decision on the way forward (Crother-Laurin, 2006:4). The beliefs are shaped by ethnicity age, cultural heritage and culture orientations; when they occur, human resources suffer from culture confusion. The main difference between a leader and a manager is that leaders lead people while managers manage tasks; with this role, leaders must develop appropriate mechanisms of enhancing learning and staff participation in an organization. Dealing with ages, is another issue that the leaders have, they have to ensure they blend the right caber of people for example a great number of people getting into the Australian medical care facilities are the so called generation Y, they are to work under the head of older people. The two are needed since the old have the knowledge and experience while the young have potential and are energetic, combining such people in an issue. Tumby Bay Hospital and Health Services and Whyalla Hospital and Health Services have human capital of different ages and with varying skills; to manage the human capital has offered the organizations some challenges that managers need to look into (Stanton, 2008: 40).
Resistance to change
The Australian medical care industry is rapidly changing; the changes are in the efforts of coming up with new ways of offering quality, timely and affordable medical care services; in the times of change, leaders have to be in the forefront managing the change. As much as change is inevitable, personnel in medical care facilities are not willing to move from their comfort zone to look for better ways of doing things yet they can be willing to adopt the new systems. For an effective change, there is need for collaboration of all medical staffs to see the program a success; leaders face the challenge of managing resistance to change. When change is not effectively done, then an organization is more likely to fail from strategic mismatches; change brings some form of tension within an organization; it is the role of leaders to ensure that such tension does not compromise the delivery of service in the facility; this is another challenge (Bate, Robert & Bevan, 2004: 65).
In the Australian medical care industry, change comes from different corners; it may be initiated from external forces or may be from within an organization. For example the growth in computers have seen the industry be faced with the need to adopt new technologies and use them to manage the facilities. For example in the efforts of improving its processes, Health Information-Management System (HIMS), has been developed with the aim of ensuring medical record have been managed effectively. When implementing such a system, human capital in the facilities are likely to resist its implementation since they are not sure whether it has come to restrain the way they operate or otherwise, they suffer from the fear of the unknown. Health information-management system (HIMS) is a computerized system used in medical facilities to facilitate the flow of data and information within the organization for fast and effective decision-making; despite this, it is possible to face resistance. For example, Metro North Health Service has an effective HIMS, when it was implementing the new system; it had to face some resistance from human capital (Parker 2009:12).
Other than the internal resistances to change, medical care leaders also face some resistance from external environs, for example, some technologies that have been developed to ensure there is proper management of medical history of a patient. Such devices include the implant chips in cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s diseases; when patients suffering such conditions fail to embrace, the change managers have the challenge of convincing them that they are doing it for their own good. Other changes that a leader has to deal with include government regulations, economic environments, and social-political environments diversity among others.
Whichever the change is coming in a facility, it faces some resistance as people are not much willing to move from their normal way of doing things to adopt other ways that they have not guarantee that will be of their own good (Wolf, Bradle & Nelson, 2005:56).
Staff retention and talent management
The health organizations are facing a challenge in managing talents and retaining the human capital that they have developed. The old generation has the experience and is on high demand to offer their services in more than one facility, when they are doing this, it has become hard for them to be fully accountable and they are likely to be working in a hurry. When they do this, they are likely to compromise the delivery of services. To enable the employees perform their duties effectively at all times, continuous appraisal of the system as well as the employees is important. When this is done, it helps the management in establishing the areas that needs improvement, however the experience are taking the form of freelancers whose appraisal is difficult. Appraisal is a two system in which the human resources department receives and gives feedback from /to the employees. In cases where the weak point is because of employees ignorant, then programs are set up to address this. When experts are busy making money for themselves, they hardly get the time to offer feedback to their organization thus improving services becomes a challenge. As long as the old generation is concerned, leaders have two main issues, how to entrust them with delivery of quality services and how to tame and manage them (Kraemer 2003:21).
Generation Y is not left in the wave of being a challenge to health facilities leaders; the generation is active, creative and highly talent; managers have the role of tapping the talents for the good of the organization. To tap the talents, there is need for continued training mentoring and coaching. Some organizations ha a continuous employee training programs so that the employees are up dated on the changes in the industry. It is through effective communication and feedback that these areas of weaknesses can be established; programs to facilitate communication should be put in place. Those who meet expectations of the management should be rewarded (Margerison, 2002:23). Motivational measures should be put in place; motivated employees are highly productive and loyal to the organization. Motivation ranges from attractive salaries and benefits, to developing a good working environment. This ensures that employees are retained as assets in the organization. However despite the above moves, there is high medical staff turnover in Australian medical care industry going within the economy, others make their own clinics and establishments as well as others going to offer their services to other countries.
When an organization lacks or losses some human capital, leaders are faced with the issue of replacing and maintaining the standards of the leaving staff. They leave staff also leaves after accumulating some experience that was expensive to the organization when offering it. In the same light, the leaders have to fight with limited human capital thus delivery of quality and timely services are hampered (Leach 2005: 230).
Solutions implemented by leaders to address the above challenges
Although the above challenges face organizations at different levels, some universal solutions that have been implemented, they include:
Change management processes
Changes are inevitable; the best method is to manage and ensure that the change process is smooth and has no negative impact on the health facility. Although change may be for a certain thing or a certain time, the process of preparing an organization for change is continuous and keeps on going within the facility. Managers should create an organizational culture that can embrace change when it comes; this involves the creating of effective communication strategies and involving staffs in decision-making (Lewis 2004:123-234)
Change management is a process where the management learns, understand and critically think about alterations they are supposed to make in an organization; in the contemporary Australian medical industry, numerous better ways that a facility needs to implement to improve its output are available. When implementing either, there is needed to have a change management strategy, the main objective in a change management process is to facilitate better methods of doings things for a cost effective business. According to change gurus, an effective change management process should ensure that the change has been adopted in the minimal time and the response of staffs is positive; it should recognize that in the transition stage, business has to continue as usual; to let the people understand, this, and then it calls for massive communication. Managers in the health care industry has taken the option of preparing their human capital on the changes in the market and advising them on the best approach they should take to have an effective change process (Paliadelis 2005: 2).
Employing human resources from diverse backgrounds is beneficial to a medical facility if the differences likely to occur from the diversity are well managed. To benefit from the advantages likely to be brought by diversity, leaders have embarked on effective diversity management programs. Human resources management team has the role of developing structures that will enable effective diversity management; they should ensure they have orchestrate teams that are well coached, mentored and trained on how to respect other people’s culture, opinions, views and religion. To do this they need to develop culture intelligence and roots management programs (King 2002:23)
The issue with managing diversity is not limited to management but also the personnel’s are involved in the programs, they are trained on how they should manage other people and respect their views as they have been socialized differently. Such efforts have made leaders in the facilities to implement mentorship, coaching and training programs to educate their human capital on best practices in the wake of globalization (Murphy 2005 :128)
Effective human resources management
Health facilities need both human and physical capital; leaders need to build effective teams by selecting team members who possess complementary skills; after selecting the team, there should be policies aimed at maintaining the talents and expertise that have been developed. In most Australian medical care facilities, there are human resources departments that have separate management nut does the same to the benefit of the organization. Satisfaction is the result of all human resources efforts to maintain their employees; when employees are satisfied, they are highly psyched and motivated, and they are less likely to change employees. For example, Mater Health Services has human management department at every sub branch and then a head body that governs the general operation of other human resources department.
Health facilities aim at having good employee relations; it refers to the body of work that is concerned with the maintaining of the relationships that exist between the employees and their employers, which contribute to acknowledgeable production and level of motivation. Employee relations concern itself with the prevention and solving of conflicts in which individuals are involved that come about or have effects on the work situations.
With effective human resources management, health facilities are able to maintain effective human resources teams (Howell & Shamir 2005: 111).
In contemporary Australian medical care industry, leaders are faced with the challenge of developing and maintaining quality, timely, and affordable medical care services. The main reason that has lead to the challenges is changes occurring in the sector, the country and the world. Current challenges can be classified as diversity management challenge, change resistance and staff retention. To address the above issues, leaders have adopted strategic management tools like strategic human resources management, diversity management and change preparedness and management strategies. To remain competitive and fulfill ones corporate goals and objectives, managers are challenged to be robust and use information to come up with effective decisions for challenges facing the industry.
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