By Jukka Räikkönen, COO of Aino Health Group
Organizations all over the world have corporate health management (CHM) on their agenda. Some are doing lip service only, while others are managing and leading health and work ability very systematically with a sustainable long-term focus. Most organizations are somewhere in between – trying to improve health and work ability with varying success.
Systematic processes and IT tools – such as Aino HealthManager – are valuable assets in making CHM systematic, transparent and result-oriented. But processes and IT are not making the difference by themselves. We are dealing with human beings with their individual situations, challenges, dreams and expectations. That is why I claim that leadership is the one thing that differentiates those organizations who gain lasting results. This opinion is supported e.g. by joint learning with Aino customers. While almost all our customers have gained results in CHM, there seems to be one thing making a difference between organizations gaining “ok” results and those gaining excellent results. And that is leadership at all levels – from board room and CXO’s all the way to supervisors managing the day-to-day value-adding work in call centers, manufacturing plants and R&D teams.
One key process in CHM is early support. In practice this is constructive dialogue between an employee and his/her manager. Such a dialogue may be triggered by different events – high amount of sick leaves, feedback from colleagues or customers, accident at work or simply based on employee’s own initiative.
Many organizations have defined detailed processes and discussion check-lists for early support discussions – and that is great. But real early support is leadership, not just filling a form because “our policies demand me to do so”.
My two cents on what is required from leaders especially in the context of early support
- LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND: We are all individuals with our individual situations. Understanding is key to a successful leadership relation. Root cause of a work ability problem may be at work place, but it may also have to do with family situation, hobbies or living habits.
- PROVIDE FEEDBACK: People really desire feedback. It is key to learning, motivation and continuous improvement. Positive feedback enforces good performance. In early support situations, feedback often relates also to deviations in performance or behaviour. In those situations, feedback needs to be specific with recent examples, constructive and strictly private.
- CARE: Everyone respects attention and care. A leader needs to understand when a team member needs help and make sure necessary support is arranged. Expert support needs to be made available when needed e.g. in form of rehabilitation.
- BE CONSISTENT: People expect to be treated equally and consistently. Behavior of a good leader can be predicted.
- FOLLOW-UP: Lasting improvements don’t happen overnight, and they may require a step-by-step action plan. Informal and formal follow-up is needed. Sometimes it may be just a short chat over a cup of coffee. Key part of follow-up is reinforcing even smallest wins with positive feedback.
Leadership is not rocket science. Leaders are not required to be superhumans – just normal human beings with willingness to do a good job. You can make a difference today!
If you want to know more about Aino’s support for processes, tools and leadership in Corporate Health Management, just contact us over the e-mail or any other media.
Jukka Räikkönen, COO of Aino Health Group