A POCKET GUIDE TO GARRY
(OR HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR CONSULTANT)
By Marcia K. Rose
Chief Quality Officer & Medical Staff Services
Bon Secours St. Francis Health System
Greenville, South Carolina 29601
If you are reading this, you have decided to engage Garry Walsh (HTSI) in some manner to raise the level of performance of your organization. Congratulations!
In order to get the most out of this particular consultant, I offer this guide to you. It is written out of a special professional relationship developed over a ten-year span. I hope you find these snippets of information enlightening and beneficial to your working relationship with Garry.
- Expect professionalism and a Gentleman's Quarterly (GQ) appearance. (The ladies will smile and the men will sit up a little straighter when Garry walks into the room). I have observed that Garry's "dressing for success" helps set a detailed tone and, inherently, begins the respectful interchange that is about to begin with your organization.
- Expect to send piles (pounds) of paper for Garry to review prior to the first on-site visit. He wants to get to know the organization and lay the ground work. Hardcopy works best as he can make his notes and suggestions on the document as he goes. And then shares those notes and findings with your leaders during each session.
- If your engagement of Garry will be over several weeks, consider setting up an office that has a computer, phone, and a space for him to house his documents and working folders. Efficiency is the name of his game. (A nice environment and comfy chairs are pluses!)
- Maintain a sense of humor. Garry has one, really! A little comic relief along the way makes the time more enjoyable. And believe me, there will be moments that you will look back on and laugh. Life is like that!
- When the occasion arises where you need to introduce Garry, have his CV in front of you or have him self-introduce. I had to "wing it" one time and it was a disaster! He'll never let me live that one down. We're still laughing over it. Did I tell you he has a sense of humor? Thank Goodness!
- To get the most out of Garry, don't ask him to start work before 8 or 8:30 a.m. unless you have plenty of coffee and pastries. Some people are "early starters" and some are "late nighters". Garry is a late nighter!
- When planning Garry's arrival, if at all possible, plan it for the warmer time of year. Garry doesn't much like the cold and the whining that may occur isn't worth it unless you take pleasure in the misery of others. In reality, Garry will go where he is needed when he is needed.
- If your organization has engaged Garry without the full support of senior leadership, including the CEO, be prepared for push-back. Full success is rarely possible without their engagement, although Garry will give you his all, regardless.
- Garry is very perceptive. He quickly sizes up his audience and engages them with anecdotes that put everyone at ease. If you want to impress him and your co-leaders, sit up front and be on time!
- To start Garry off on the right foot everyday, have plenty of water available. Bottled is preferred as it is easily portable as he moves through the organization.
- It is imperative to provide Garry with 10-15 minutes between sessions for him to clear his thoughts from one session and prepare for the next session, usually on a different topic. O.K., he's also human and needs the occasional bio-break as well!!
- Much like most men, food is important to Garry. Let him eat lunch and relax a bit mid-day. He doesn't have to have fancy, expensive meals, just good tasting, quality ones. Turkey Reubens (no pickles, please); Italian dishes; and anything chocolate for dessert mid-afternoon will get you brownie points (no pun intended). He prefers earlier lunches rather than later ones, but that may be due to the fact that I rarely provided him breakfast or mid-morning snacks!
- Garry takes his coffee with cream (none of that powdery stuff) and sugar. He takes his ice tea unsweetened with 2 packets of the "pink" stuff. The "blue" stuff, he says, through observation, has been found to "not dissolve well in cold liquids."
- Be prepared to listen. Garry's mind is always working, twisting and turning thoughts into ideas and actions. He needs to download uninterrupted. Once done, he is open to your feedback and ready to dissect or develop the concepts provided.
- Garry is always flexible and adaptable to your ideas, but be prepared for his hard-stance attitude on issues of integrity, honesty, and "doing the right thing."
- Be open to late night conversations when his creativity is in full swing. (He'll be respectful and not call after 10 p.m., unless you say otherwise.) I wonder if the man ever sleeps-reminds me of Richard Geer's character in "Pretty Woman."
- Arrive at work early in order to handle the voice mails and emails Garry has sent during the night. Most will be requesting hardcopies of documents that have been exchanged and emailing items to staff for implementation. Some will be thoughts and suggestions to discuss in upcoming sessions.
- During his engagement, electronic exchange of documents works best for his off-site review. If you have particular templates for policies, forms, etc, providing him electronic copies in the beginning helps everyone be more efficient (and SL, his assistant, will love you for it!!).
- Be prepared to copy multiple examples and samples from both hardcopy and CDs. One thing I can say about Garry is he won't leave you wanting for a form or document!
- During group work sessions and scheduled one-on-ones, having a resource associate with a laptop available to record action plans and responsibilities during each session works the best. These can be emailed back and forth for editing and updating. Be careful, though. Garry is verbose, wanting to educate and give clear direction. If you don't corral him, your document may soon get unwieldy.
- Garry is patient and caring. It is important to Garry that staff "get it" and understand why he is asking them to change a policy or process. He wants it to make sense and be purposeful. One of his many expressions is "The key to education is not that we give it - it's that they get it."
- I have only seen Garry "lose it" a couple of times over the years, and then, it was only done in private. What caused this you ask? People coming to sessions unprepared, not doing their work assignments as requested, and an attitude of apathy. If you don't hold your staff accountable it is wasted money to hire Garry. The work isn't his alone to do.
- If there is a need to drive to different locations, Garry prefers to be chauffeured. Not because Garry doesn't like to drive-he does (vroom, vroom), it's because it is easier than dealing with directions, etc. I do recall one particular time, though, when Garry was attempting to climb out of the window of my car. The precipitating details escape me…it couldn't have been my driving!!
- Don't expect Garry to socialize with you after hours, unless, of course, you are the CEO or the one responsible for the engagement, and even then, there better be business to be discussed. He wants no question in anyone's mind when he bills for after-hours work that he was, indeed, working to meet the client's needs. After the engagement is complete, he would be happy to celebrate with you if his schedule allows.
- And, finally, expect a commitment to your organization from the first moment of hiring Garry. No matter how long or short the engagement, from day one, you will hear the words "our organization" not "your organization" coming from his mouth.
As I look back on these snippets, they appear to be applicable to any work relationship and not just consultants named Garry. Maybe I should have titled this "How to Work & Play Well with Others" or "Sandbox 101." Anyway… I wish you well in your efforts to improve your organization.
Hiring Garry Walsh is a good first step!
About Health Technology Systems And Garry Walsh, President:
Health Technology Systems, Inc. (HTSI) is a national healthcare service firm. Garry M. Walsh, President, has been serving the nation's healthcare community since 1988 by offering leadership development, training, and guidance in regulatory and accreditation compliance. Hospital Policy Net, Inc., the publishing company founded in 2001, distributes health care policy and documentation instruments across the nation and in numerous countries.
The primary business focus is:
Create and implement pioneering quality and performance improvement systems to meet healthcare regulatory requirements, including JCAHO, CMS, and/or State-specific mandates. To develop the skills and abilities of health care leaders to capitalize on their resources to provide safe and effective care with positive clinical outcomes.
The primary client focus is:
Design and deliver innovative, practical solutions to the challenges of our industry, including high caliber, innovative and effective training for leadership and management teams.
To learn more about HTSI, please visit:
Health Technology Systems, Inc.
103 Royal Court, Suite 400
Safety Harbor, Florida 34695
Toll free 1.800.749.7144
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