Carol Cannizzo | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Carol Cannizzo

Background:  

Founded in 2000, IKOR is a franchise that helps develop comprehensive care plans for families managing short-term health crises and long-term care issues for seniors and individuals with disabilities. IKOR offers life care management services in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

The Mistake:

Not explaining why certain decisions are made.

I was previously the manager of a department at a large healthcare system, and when corporate decisions were made, I was the one who relayed the good news and, sometimes, the bad news to the rest of the department.

One year, we had to change up the performance evaluation system in a way that appeared as though we were making it harder for employees to get raises. The change was actually intended to make our performance evaluation system more fair, but I don’t think I did enough to explain that to them, so they read it a different way.

They thought we were simply trying to cut raises so that more senior people could get bigger bonuses. It wasn’t a good situation.

When employees don’t know why something is happening — especially when it affects them — they just see how they’re missing out.

The Lesson:

If people don’t understand why decisions are made, they are going to fill in the blank themselves. You have to tell people what’s going on. You don’t necessarily need to get into the nitty-gritty with them; it’s more about getting them to a place of understanding.

I see this play out with patients’ families, too. When doctors don’t tell them what’s going on, they start to think the worst. Communication, especially in healthcare, is so important. We didn’t used to do that as much with families. We just did things, and nobody really asked questions. Now, people can go on Google and find things out on their own — they’re more involved, and that’s good, because they should be concerned about their own health. So it’s important that we do more to explain why we are doing certain tests or treatments.

In short, people need to have a good picture of the big picture. When employees don’t know why something is happening — especially when it affects them — they just see how they’re missing out. But if they know how and why that decision was made, and how it was actually for the good of the whole organization, they get it.

IKOR is on Twitter at @IKORIntl​.

Photo courtesy of IKOR.

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