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Swimming in the Deep End

Swimming in the Deep End

I get my best stories in the trenches – don’t you? Last week one of my hospital CEO’s used a “swimming in the deep end” metaphor to describe a situation where someone was in over their head and would have been much safer (in their position) had they stayed in the shallow end.

Then today one of my physician liaisons forwarded a list-serve post from an Imaging Liaison who was concerned that her efforts in the field were not yielding a return. Based on the details of that post, I flashed right back to that metaphor, because it perfectly described her going out into the deep end as many of us do when we take on too much, grow too fast, or advance too soon.

Before I go on, let me be 100% transparent; I am the President of the Go BIG or Go Home Society. Okay, well if there was such a society I would definitely hold that office! Unfortunately, there are times when the GO BIG philosophy can lead to a drowning disaster.

Take on Too Much

I’m all about stretching ourselves with big goals and aspirations! But often, especially in healthcare, we overload and advance people without sufficient training and support. Sales is no exception! Sales is both an art and a science! It takes training, practice, leading, focus, skills, gut-wrenching perseverance, more training, creativity, more practice, greater focus, and good old fashioned common sense!
Did you notice the words I used more than once? Training – Practice – Focus. That’s how we do our part to avoid taking on too much, and more importantly, reduce the risks of swimming into the deep end prematurely.

Grow Too Fast

This job can be hazardous to the waistline, but that’s not the growth I’m talking about. I’m talking about the kind of rapid growth that gets us thrown, or worse, forces us to jump into the deep end before we know how to swim.

Our focus should be on long-term relationships as well as long-term results. Commit to taking the time required to build a program with a proven system and structure that prepares for individual and organizational growth. Don’t take inappropriate short cuts. Instead, experience all the cycles of growth and sustainability. Create growth teams (I’ll blog later on effective growth teams) so that all stakeholders are prepared to deliver.

In one hospital, we saw rapid growth in imaging volume from our efforts in the field. Unfortunately all the departments impacted by the growth weren’t prepared, which created a few customer service issues. Because of a strong growth-team, we recovered quickly. Had we grown too fast without preparation, we would have faced certain drowning.

Stay steady but diligent to serve and cultivate relationships internally and externally.

Advance Too Soon

For example, just because someone is a sales professional (i.e. Liaison) doesn’t mean they’re qualified to be a Sales Manager. Whatever side of that decision you sit on, please don’t assume the skills are the same; each role has a very unique skill set. That mistake more often than not leads to one or more landing in the deep end.
When we individually move our focus too quickly to our own advancement, we take our eyes off of our customers (internally and externally). Don’t be naïve and think it doesn’t show in your delivery. Keep your eyes on delivering great customer service and retaining long-term relationships (often that turn into your life-guards) and you’ll achieve the growth and skills you need for a strong performance in the deep end.

When Going BIG…

Everyone has landed in the deep end before and has had to reach out for help. A wise man once said, “What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.” (A lot of do-do there!). That was Paul from Romans 7:15. It’s hard not to let our pride get in way when we chose to “do” BIG and it doesn’t exactly work out the way we planned.
Big goals and big responsibilities take BIG sacrifices. But, if you find you’ve drifted into the deep end, STOP momentarily and evaluate your position. Look for the life guard stand. Remember, lifeguards come in all shapes and sizes including family, friends, mentors, clergy, and colleagues. Rescue is always within your reach.