If you are planning to purchase a new LIS, or make any other major purchase for your laboratory, you may need support from someone at your organization’s administrative level. It is important to actively work to build a rapport with your administrative team and to understand the mission and vision of your organization so that you can align departmental decisions with organizational goals. Having the trust and support of the right people can make the decision process easier.
Establish Relationships & Build Trust
Build a reputation of integrity so that your administrators know that your decisions are based on what is best overall for the organization. Gaining consistent support from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) can help ensure long-term success for your laboratory.
Building a mutually trusting relationship requires continual communication and an open and honest approach. Increase credibility by being trustworthy and demonstrating good leadership skills in your own area. If you are not trusted, it will be difficult to influence leaders to listen to your ideas. Often a smart approach is to talk less and listen more. In addition, realize that administrative leaders might not have all the answers and could be looking to you for recommendations or guidance.
Learn to See from Others’ Perspective
We sometimes have a hard time looking at a problem and its solution from someone else’s perspective. However, if you are trying to sway a decision maker to agree with your recommendation, it is valuable to understand their perspective and learn what is important to them (e.g., cost, patient care, etc.). Make a concerted effort to understand their point of view, and frame what you say in terms that relate to their priorities.
C-suite individuals (CEOs, COOs, etc.) want to see the rationale behind any proposal that involves a significant financial commitment. They tend to require data and financial figures that support the financial investment. When you share information with the executive team, emphasize the solutions to pain points that you know are top of their list. And include intangible benefits, such as positive impact on company culture, productivity, and future recruitment efforts.
Speak the Right Language
Communication is key in any relationship, and it is beneficial to be cognizant that an administrative leader’s time is valuable. Senior managers are busy and may not have time to understand every detail of your proposal. Start by explaining the big picture, such as impact on the organization, high-level benefits, and risks. Clearly describe how your proposal will benefit the organization and organize your pitch so that it is quick and easy to understand. Be concise, respectful, and do not over-promise or exaggerate.
Another communication tip is to seek out a decision maker’s communication preference. You might articulate the need by telling a story and using evidence to bolster your case. Compelling stories often work better than text-laden presentations. Connect the dots and make sure you are addressing the big-picture issues of your unit.
Do not assume administrators understand everything that goes on in the laboratory, and, realize that they do not need to; they need to understand the cost-benefit trade-off and why it is important from an organization-wide perspective. To create urgency, add questions that help people consider the problems you are trying to solve and the consequences of not agreeing with your proposal.
Show the Data
Do your research and prepare thoroughly. Find compelling data (not just your opinion) that illustrates the benefits, not only for the lab, but for the overall practice and in regard to patient care. Help leaders envision how your organization will function better with your proposed solution in place and think through the consequences if your proposal is rejected.
Maintain a Positive Outlook
Be realistic, yet enthusiastic and optimistic. With a positive attitude, optimism can help get the approval you seek. Look for ways to passionately state your case and make the proposal an exciting solution that solves specific problems.
Be Prepared for Questions
Anticipate senior management’s response and try to be prepared with solid answers. Have the courage to stand by your proposal and back up its worth. Clarify and re-clarify to gain a clear understanding of an administrator’s concerns so that you can distinguish between real objections and procrastination. Connect with a sales person for some ideas and information about a specific solution’s standout qualities.
Finally, make sure you believe in your decision so that presenting it and defending it is easy because you truly believe that the solution you seek is in the whole organization’s best interest.
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