Role Alignment by Tara Vossenkemper

employees ftn for healthcare providers healthcare hierarchy of needs hhn order order level role alignment tara vossenkemper team May 27, 2021
Run in your lane. When your role is aligned with your strengths you are more likely to do well, do enjoy your job, and achieve more as a result.

Segment of an HHN Assessment from Tara Vossenkemper

It’s really that simple. And yes, this is an actual FTN assessment (just one level of it is showing here) for my practice from a little while back.

I’m going to quickly break this down for you so that you can have a solid understanding of the above. I’d also hardcore recommend that you buy Fix This Next for Healthcare Providers to really get it and to be able to use it as a reference point. 

With the Fix This Next for Healthcare framework, we’re specifically viewing our businesses through the Healthcare Hierarchy of Needs (or HHN). The HHN is a three-level pyramid, with five core needs housed in each level. The premise is that you are only as ‘high’ on the pyramid as your lowest unmet need. We can’t surpass our lowest unmet need, period. (Download your copy of the HHN in the QuickStart!)

Check out these blogs if you need more info on the SALES or PROFIT levels of the HHN.

For now, we’re going to focus on ORDER.

So back to my self-assessment. I had three yeses and two nos. Continuing from the FTN for Healthcare Providers framework, my core needs are role alignment and linchpin redundancy. Core needs are the things we ‘need’ to tend to right away. They’re important. However, when we do an HHN assessment, we’re probably going to have more than one core need. This is expected, so don’t be too worried when you see that happen. The question you might have, though, is, “well, what do I focus on?” 

Great question. My answer is this: the vital need. The vital need is the lowest unmet need. And when we say lowest, we mean, quite literally, the very bottom-most unmet need is your vital need. This is why the order of the levels is important. This is also why you should always do a full assessment and not just one level. 

So, let’s focus on the vital need. My vital need was role alignment. I didn’t fully respect the need for this until it went sideways and I had a giant slice of humble pie. And no, there was no ice cream served with it. 

My tendency is to think. Always freaking thinking - not ruminating, for the record, but thinking. My brain explodes on the daily with thoughts about what ideas to pursue next, what system to tweak and make better, how my employees are feeling, what process to enhance, how to serve more people, and on and on and on. It just keeps going with what feels like endless possibilities. 

On the one hand, this is one of my favorite things about myself. I like being incessantly curious and excited about possibilities. I don’t accept what is, I think about what could be. I like to know that at any given point in time, what is can be changed for the better. People, life, business - we’re all steadily evolving. This gives me a sense of comfort and excitement. That’s definitely not the case for everybody. 

On the other hand, the downside is that I can put the cart before the horse. I might (read: definitely) implement things prematurely or without enough awareness of the ripple effect of my actions on the people and systems I’m surrounded by. And my constant ‘ooh, what if we…’ can feel overwhelming for people (or so I’ve been told - that’s hard to relate to, but I believe the people who have said it) to the extent that they don’t feel safe with the structure that exists; they feel unsettled by the evolution rather than excited about it. 

Why am I telling you this?

Because I didn’t fully accept or understand how this trait, in particular, would impact people closest to me, and I didn’t remedy the issue soon enough. 

Here’s the quick version of the story. I started a leadership team with people I adore (to this day). They bust their asses, they know me fairly well, they seem and feel invested in the practice, and they’re trustworthy. All the things you’d want out of a person on a leadership team.

Where did things go wrong? Well, they went wrong in a couple of ways, but let's focus on the role alignment component.

One of the people on the leadership team was open to the process, but didn’t really feel comfortable with the constant changes and also wasn’t sure of what her role in the processes was. This ambiguity was uncomfortable and unsettling, and things came to an end when she asked to step down.

The other person was working ‘in’ the role and not ‘on’ the role, and was getting paid an on-the-role rate. So much more to unpack here, but the bottom line is that I couldn’t afford to keep her in that role, so I moved her. It was not a pleasant experience, to say the least. She handled it as well as possible, but it was painful to know that I’d caused pain based on something I shouldn’t have let happen in the first place. 

I love these people and was so damn excited about the possibilities that I wasn’t taking into consideration the actual people and the roles themselves. I didn’t do the very thing I’m proselytizing about right now. I didn’t do role alignment because I was caught up in the possibilities. 

Think back to it - the literal question to ask yourself for assessing role alignment is: are people’s roles and responsibilities matched to their talents? 

Here’s what that question isn’t asking: are people's roles and responsibilities matched to what they aspire to be talented in? Or, are people’s roles and responsibilities matched to what you want for them, but they’re not ready for and/or super interested in? Or, are people’s roles and responsibilities matched to what they think they have the mental space for, but might not? 

The people moved and got settled into their current roles, for the record. They generate more revenue for the practice and they make more money for themselves. Additionally, I happened to have a recent hire who shifted into the leadership role seamlessly and I’ll just say that having a person in that role who is an ideal fit has made a positive difference in more ways than I could have anticipated.

The role alignment question is a concrete, right-now, current-state-of-affairs question - it’s not aspirational and it’s not future-oriented. And the more you can be honest about it in the moment, the better able you’re going to be at rectifying any people/role issues and then getting the right people in the role for you to be able to work on your business in a way that is congruent with you.

Tara Vossenkemper, PhD, is the founder and owner of The Counseling Hub, an accidental group counseling practice in Columbia, Mo. Tara has since stepped into consulting in a more serious capacity, setting out to ensure that practice owners know both what they need to do and how to do it. Tara's favorite consulting-related topics center around tracking, culture, structure, and diagnosing core issues.

Tara is known for her colorful language (#PuttingItNicely), love of The Office (#USVersion), neuroticism around dashboards (#FormulasAreLife), and hashtags (#AllDay). When she's not in the office, Tara can be found hanging out with her husband and two young sons, probably drinking a glass of red and wishing it was quiet enough to read.

Check out Tara’s professional bio and her practice, The Counseling Hub

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