Communication issues are at the heart of many leadership challenges. In the case of health care organizations, communication can be a life and death issue. Early in 2010, Hand & Associates worked with a multi-location hospital corporate client to take on their communication challenges with measurably positive results.


In this organization, physicians and nurses were experiencing a major communication breakdown. Hand & Associates was engaged to coach one key nurse leader and one key physician whose communication skills were identified as counter productive to a team environment dedicated to patient care. Employee overall satisfaction was low, and morale was suffering. Turnover was high and unit leaders were lacking credibility and respect.

The Solution

Hand & Associates began working with this organization by matching executive coaches with the key leaders in terms of experience and overall fit. “Once we knew what the problem was, we made sure we had the right people to address it,” said Kevin Hand, President and Founder of Hand & Associates. “We called in two of our best coaches who have worked in health care systems, fixed broken communication channels and dealt with leaders who were challenged in how they were perceived.”

Strategic Response

After gathering input from major leaders of the organization and those most often affected by the breakdowns, the physicians and nurses serving patients, the Hand and Associates coaches introduced a multi-step process, unique for each leader. Highlights included:

  • Shadowing key leaders to observe communication style with direct reports and other medical staff.
  • Gathering data from direct reports to identify leader and systemic communication gaps.
  • Coaching key leaders one-on-one, using data collected, and explored alternative choices, testing new strategies and behaviors.
  • Facilitating team-building session where recent hospital training was integrated with the coaching.
  • Creating a collaborative environment by identifying a common goal around which team members can work together, which was the pursuit of a prestigious recognition award.

The Results

The ROI of this program was measured by employee satisfaction scores. After one-year, employee surveys indicated an improvement in overall satisfaction score of 20 percent, and morale was demonstrably improved. The most remarkable improvement addressed physician respect for nursing staff, which increased 43 percent.

This hospital continues to engage Hand & Associates to coach their senior leaders and is exploring additional organizational design consulting services.