QI Tips: 8 Tips for Engaging Leaders in Your Project
Lack of leadership support is one of the most common reasons that a quality improvement project fails. Whether it is executive, administrative or frontline leadership you are trying to convince, we have eight field-tested tips that will enable your leaders to not only support your project, but also advocate for it.
- Understand your style and your leader’s style. Knowing the personality of the person to whom you are trying to “sell” the idea or program is critical to success. Ask around to figure out what convinces the leader, numbers or stories. Does the leader tend to be an early adopter of new ideas or a laggard? Use this information to better shape your approach and communications.
- Don’t undersell your vision. Be sure to establish a clear, ambitious vision that can inspire and engage a variety of leaders. Talk about both the short-term and long-term implications of the initiative, as well as what happens if the initiative doesn’t take hold.
- Align your aim with strategic priorities. Create a sense of urgency for your leader to support your project by aligning your project aim with the organizational strategy. Even better is if you can show your initiative will increase efficiency and is linked to projected increases in profits or margin as your improvements spread.
- Use evidence and experts to make your case. Leaders want to know you have done your homework before committing resources to a new project. Provide them with as much evidence as possible that your initiative has a high probability for success.
- Use other voices to build engagement. Before approaching an executive leader for project support, start to build a cross-disciplinary team of other organizational leaders, frontline staff, patients and families who support the work. Having these diverse voices of support will build leverage for getting leadership buy-in.
- Use patient stories to create a sense of urgency. When the beneficiary of the work speaks up, it’s hard not to take notice. Use patient stories to explain the importance of your project and the need for action now.
- Determine who you are disrupting and address their concerns head on. Every new project creates some ripples in work flow and roles, which creates naysayers for your project. Identify and talk to these people early on and try to address their concerns before they talk to leadership.
- Align with external priorities. Leadership is more likely to support a project that aligns with the future of their field. Appeal to your leaders by aligning your initiative with national priorities, especially those that are cutting edge.