August 30, 2017 • Leadership
Every department has a set of priorities, their “must do” daily responsibilities that may not directly align with UNT HSC’s strategic plan. The Environmental Health and Safety Office is no exception, and at first, I found it challenging to describe what we do in terms of alignment with the strategic plan. The mission of our office is to create a safe environment so that all of you can do your jobs and achieve the goals and objectives outlined in the strategic plan (paraphrased), but do we end there?
Having a clear mission, vision, and purpose help show us the direction, but they alone are not enough to create results. As leaders, it is our responsibility to come up with the strategy for success in our areas. If you do not have a written strategic plan for your department, then it’s time to create one with your team. Even if our daily tasks do not directly impact a measure on the strategic plan, the way we execute our strategies determines the culture around us. Integrating customer service and increased efficiencies are probably the easiest areas to focus on, but I challenge you to think about ways your department can influence student satisfaction, or help researchers apply for grants, or support the Patient Safety Institute.
You may be surprised at what your team comes up with, as I was when I posed these questions to my team. Two of us are now Associate Fellows in the Institute for Patient Safety, which creates opportunities for research collaboration. 3 of us are on a Best Place for All committee, and we have weekly meetings to recognize others that have done outstanding work.
Chapter 5 of “The Strategist” by Cynthia Montgomery talks about strategy as a system for creating value, so I’m going to use this concept as the foundation for our next strategic plan update meeting. I will use the outline of the exercise we did in Leadership 125, but change the questions to “What do we do that creates the most value, what do we do that creates the least value, and what do we want to do to create more value?”. I’m interested to see where the discussion goes, and hopefully we can identify areas where we are spending resources and time that would be better spent on something else.
Finally, after the creation of a strategic plan for your area, and the identification of how you create value, you need to change your behavior. Doing the same old routine is not good enough, it’s not strategic, and it’s not beneficial. Waiting for someone to tell you where to go and what to do doesn’t make you a leader. I admit that I struggle in this area, but through the lessons and the readings I’m gaining the confidence to ask more questions and challenge the reasoning behind decisions that don’t make sense to me, and hope to serve as an example to my team.
HSC Fellows Candidate 2017