Paving the Road to a Successful HIM Career Path
In our last post, we identified the most important elements to build an effective HIM work culture including practical advice on how to construct the fundamental building blocks that helps HIM staff to feel valued, respected, and appreciated. We extracted examples from our recent survey of HIM professionals that addressed what they feel are the most important elements to spark engagement and create a positive work culture:
- A positive on-boarding experience
- Creating a HIM work environment that supports creative thinking
- Offering opportunities to provide feedback
- Open-door policies
Establishing a positive HIM work environment also includes the ability to encourage and motivate staff within an environment that supports flexibility, and inspires problem solving – moving in a direction that sheds the status quo and focuses on some of the less tangible elements such as empowerment and open communication.
Paving the Path
The results of our recent survey taught us an important lesson about the ability to develop a work culture that fosters HIM employee satisfaction: the feeling that success is recognized and there are concrete opportunities for growth along a clearly-defined career path matters. A lot.
In fact, opportunities for growth and advancement trumped the potential to make money for HIM professionals suggesting once again that money is not the sole motivator along the career path. Opportunities for personal development and growth are among the most important factors influencing HIM staff engagement and commitment.
The new generation of HIM staff also understand that they alone are responsible for managing their own careers and future advancement is often dependent on opportunities to elevate their skill sets. If they survey the work culture landscape and can’t see these opportunities materialize, it’s viewed as a direct risk to compromising their employability at their current or future jobs.
What we discovered is the assurance of a solid career progression should be a key focus and an important part of the conversation when HIM department managers communicate with staff. Clearly outlining a potential career path progression for every employee keeps them motivated and focused.
Leaders Steer the Ship
It’s hardly a secret that HIM leadership are the main drivers to establish a positive and supportive HIM work environment. Achieving HIM nirvana simply can’t materialize in the absence of weak leadership with defunct communication skills. What elements are the most important to advance a happy HIM work culture?
- Articulating clear expectations: Effective HIM managers set clear expectations from the outset and steer employees to the resources they need to be efficient and productive.
- Clear and effective communication: HIM managers must possess the ability to effectively solicit staff for ideas and feedback in an affable way through availability and sound listening skills in a way that subliminally says – “My door is always open”
- Recognition: Acknowledging accomplishments and constructing a reward system HIM staff that exceeds expectations is a hallmark of an effective HIM manager.
- Creativity: One of perhaps the most interesting aspects of effective HIM managers is the unique ability to inject creativity into managing staff. Our research shows that simple techniques such as having toys, stress balls, chachkies and other “fidget-friendly” items available during meetings helps HIM staff to relieve stress, be more creative, and acts as inspiration for new ideas.
- Avoid “micromanaging”: This may sound cliché but studies show that avoiding the urge to hover over HIM staff while they do their jobs does in fact lead to less productive employees. Fostering autonomy and clear communication of job expectations is a much more effective method of establishing a positive HIM work culture.
- Encourage a work-life balance: Establishing an environment that offers flexible working hours and the ability to work remotely encourages a healthier work-life balance for HIM staff and injects a sense of balance in their professional and personal lives.
The dynamic and tumultuous nature of the healthcare industry mandates that HIM professionals condition themselves to embrace new opportunities as an important element for career advancement. Successful HIM managers are coaches, mentors, and shepherds of HIM staff career paths.
Identifying HIM Staff that Meshes with Leadership Styles
Effective HIM management techniques must be linked with hiring practices that filter out employees who will not contribute to a positive work culture. HIM managers should ask themselves: What motivates employees? Which individuals will thrive under management styles? Are HIM staff values and expectations commensurate with the department’s work culture?
The interview process must include defining expectations in the context of a thriving and evolving culture that is vibrant with clear goals and objectives. In other words – HIM managers need to know the right questions to ask. Explore potential HIM staff career goals, expectations, learning capabilities, and the ability of a qualified candidate to work well both with a team and independently.
HIM Work Culture is a Two-Way Street
Establishing an effective HIM management style isn’t a one way street. Prospective HIM employees must also know the right questions to ask during the interview process. HIM job seekers must understand and appreciate the department happiness quotient, and how happy they would see themselves within the work culture. Here are 6 questions every potential HIM employee should have in their arsenal during the interview process:
- What do you enjoy most about your job or this organization, and what would you change?
- How do you keep your team engaged and updated?
- How do you show employees that they are valued members of the team?
- Can you describe a typical day for someone in this position?
- What are the three most important qualities you look for in an employee?
- What are the future opportunities for advancement for someone in this role?
Patience is a key attribute for both HIM employers and job seekers and a slow and steady approach wins the race. Take the time to hire the right people and find the right job. Ensuring that HIM staff are provided an environment that encourages creativity and free thought with ample incentives and the necessary resources to do their jobs effectively while achieving the right management style is a journey, not a sprint.
What can you add to our advice? Please drop us a line in the comment section! Please share our post with a friend or colleague that you feel may benefit from the information!