During this month’s Coffee Talk, attendees heard from three members of AHF’s Self-Operated Project Team, Anne Markwell, Tim Schoonmaker, and John Herzog, who discussed the importance of developing a rapport with your C-Suite. The Self-Op Project Team is responsible for developing tools, resources and materials to help AHF members run their facilities and prove their value.
Before the webinar, operator participants were asked a series of questions about their current relationship with the executive team at their facility. Of the operators who registered, 76% reported that they have regularly scheduled meetings with a decision maker on the executive team, with 22% saying they meet bi-weekly, 43% meeting on a monthly basis and the remainder meeting either quarterly or on another schedule. Out of the operators who reported not having regularly scheduled meetings with their C-Suite, 15% said the reason was because their executives don’t see the value in the meeting, 15% cited time constraints from the executive, about 1% cited time constraints on their department, while the remainder cited other reasons. Overall, 87% of those surveyed reported that they believe their executive leader is aware of their department’s challenges and successes.
In a thoughtful discussion about the importance of developing a strong relationship with the C-Suite, Anne, Tim and John highlighted the value in preparing an elevator speech for your department to better take advantage of chance encounters with your executive team, tracking KPI’s and other metrics that might resonate with administrators, and being able to successfully tell your departments story. They also emphasized the significance of inviting executives to events in your departments, for opportunities to show off your hard work and emphasized that every time an administrator visits your cafeteria, they leave with a greater understanding of the tasks and challenges you face on a daily basis. While executives might not always come to these events, it’s important to continue inviting them.
Just like having a plan when you go into your kitchen to start cooking for the day, you should have a plan for your department, and communicating that plan to your executives is key. Whether you share your annual SWOT Analysis findings or department’s strategic plan, communicating these activities is vital to sharing your department’s challenges and successes. While it’s important to have a genuine, mutually respected relationship with your administrator, going into each meeting with a clear plan and focus, cannot be stressed enough. On top of that, knowing when to listen and when to have an ask is important to keep in mind. But it’s important to note, as Tim did during the webinar, that interactions with the C-Suite don’t always have to be formal, prepared meetings. Think creatively about ways to connect with your leaders, either by sharing department newsletters or social media posts, so they can better appreciate the value you and your team bring to the table.
AHF members can access a recording of this month’s Coffee Talk online at AHF's Online Learning Center and be sure to look out for our upcoming Coffee Talks and monthly webinars on our website.