Surviving Your First Hospital Executive Committee Meeting: Tips From Dr. Geoffrey Rubin

So you’ve just been hired into a new leadership position within your organization. One of the first challenges you’re facing is attempting to successfully survive your first hospital executive committee meeting, a true initiation for anyone in a new leadership role. Navigating the waters can be challenging, especially if this is your first time in a leadership position.

ISCT President, Dr. Geoffrey Rubin, walks you through how to not only survive your first executive committee meeting, but to own it. There are a number of different scenarios you may be responsible for handling at your first hospital executive committee meeting, but the following mock scenario is quite common.

The Issue On The Table  

Discussing whether or not to replace the hospital’s 15 year old MRI scan with a new state of the art machine.

The Situation To Date

 You have been invited to join the hospital executive committee in a capital budgeting meeting to discuss the issue in just three days. The hospital’s service line director for imaging has already submitted a business plan and will be the primary presenter on the request, but you’ve been asked to prepare to answer all questions.

You Have Just Three Days To Prepare…What Do You Do? 

Step 1: Read the plan.

Don’t accept it and shove it in a drawer, don’t flag the email or leave it unread to come back to later, crack open the plan as soon as possible. Read it through and make sure that everything is correct. Is it the right model that’s being requested? The right features? Does what is written there represent yours and the group’s priorities? Are the most cogent arguments in favor of the purchase included, and are the risks of not purchasing included? Are scenarios laid out that include what might happen if the upgrade isn’t made, but also that list the great benefits that would arise from making such an upgrade?

Step 2: Double-check The Data

Are all of these arguments backed up with data? Data is crucial in these business plans, particularly for certain stakeholders on the hospital side. When you’re confronted with data tables and calculations you need to ask yourself: do you understand them? This information typically comes in three types of data: Operations (clinical volumes with different services, backlogs at different times of the day), Marketing (what is the opportunity for growth in the community, in different service lines, etc.), and Financial. Financial calculations are often the most foreign to people, if you don’t understand these then find somebody who does. Make sure you have familiarity with all three of these types of data, especially the financial data. Don’t assume that the numbers on the page are correct or take the right assumptions into account, take the time to double-check everything yourself. 

Step 3: Meet With The Service Line Director

Get their view on the plan, make sure that you’re aligned and support the upgrade for the same reasons that your group does. If that’s not the case, it’s important to get aligned and figure out what gaps there are in each person’s understanding. Share the strategy between the service line director and yourself as to how you’re going to approach the meeting, as well as who are going to be the most important people to engage in order to achieve a successful outcome. Ask that person for intel on the tendencies and priorities of other top stakeholders in the hospital that may be willing to speak up about your project at the meeting. 

Step 4: Know The Players At The Table

Who is the ultimate decision maker? Is it the CEO, the Chief Financial Officer? Who is going to have the biggest influence over the decisions maker? Who does that decision maker listen to and are they going to support or potentially block the project? Determine who everyone else at the table is. Look for assassins, for allies, and pinpoint who to align yourself with.

 Step 5: Know The Culture

There is always a culture amongst the executive committee. Is chummy banter the standard, or does everyone sit silently? Be aware of unofficial seating charts, of taboos regarding things like phone activity or eating at the table during the meeting. Having an understanding of these norms will give you a leg up and grant you a stronger degree of respect and credibility from the other members.

Step 6: Know Your Role

You know your role, but does everyone else in the room? Assert yourself confidently and make sure that you’re given the respect your experience and knowledge should provide you. Remember that you belong there just as much as the person next to you, and position yourself as a team player. Recognize your role as a steward for the organization at a larger level, don’t just look for wins within your own department. Support other departments and they will support yours as well.

Step 7: Read The Pre-Meeting Binder You’re Given

Make sure you go over the entire set of handouts. Understand the entire scope of what’s being covered in the meeting, and look for areas where you can contribute.

Your first hospital executive committee meeting will likely be filled with challenges and curveballs, but if you keep the above lessons in mind you’ll be well equipped to navigate the waters with ease. It’s all about remembering the scout’s motto: “Be prepared.” Be prepared from the beginning to the end to represent the department and to show yourself as a team player for the hospital as a whole. This will set you up to successfully see the results that you need!

If you found this content incredibly helpful, are just starting out in a new leadership role or are looking to hone your leadership skills, you may be interested in a 12 week course Dr. Rubin is helping to organize: RLI Breakthrough Leadership: Maximizing Your Influence and Impact. The content we shared today was a teaser for one of the many topics that will be covered over the duration of the course, all of which are designed to help radiologists in new leadership positions hone the skills necessary to be effective and valuable in their acquired roles. You can register or learn more about the course here.