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6 Life Hacks for Hospice Executives

6 Life Hacks for Hospice Executives

Uncle Ben said it best when he told Peter, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” Being the one in charge has it pros and cons. When things are going well, everyone praises your name and loves you for everything you do. But when things are going bad, you are the one to blame. And rightfully so! I mean… you are the leader.

Being in charge of anything is difficult. But being in charge of running a hospice is a whole different story. 

We know (or at least think we know) how difficult it can be to be the leader of your hospice.

You’re simultaneously dealing with:

  • Rules and regulations

  • A nursing staff that secretly hates you

  • Volunteers that don’t actually help with anything

  • A board that has no experience or helpful advice

  • Hospice vendor’s trying to sell you the latest snake oil

  • Families that don’t like the way you do things

  • And oh yeah, we can’t forget about the fact that you have patients that are LITERALLY DYING.

It’s overwhelming. We know, and we are here to help. 

To make your life of hospice leadership a little easier, we are offering you not 4, not 5, but 6 life hacks to help make your life as a hospice executive a little bit easier!


Hack #1 - Create a Team Environment

As the leader of your hospice, it is your responsibility to turn your staff into a team.

Keep your team updated on what is going on, don’t keep them in the dark on things. If there is a problem that needs resolved, bring it up to your team. Work together to find solutions and create processes to improve your hospice. Allow your team to take ownership of projects.

A great leader knows that they don’t have to do everything by themselves.

You’re the quarterback of your hospice. You can’t win by keeping the ball all to yourself! Let your team help you and give someone else the ball. 


Hack #2 - Be Fair and Consistent   

One of the most stressful aspects of being a leader is knowing that your staff may not like or respect you. You can’t always control whether or not someone likes you, but you can control whether or not they respect you as their leader. You can accomplish this by simply being consistent with your actions and your expectations.

Treat everyone the same and resist the temptation to favor certain people on your team. It’s not easy to do, but it’s the right thing to do. Your team will never respect you as a leader if you are wishy washy with the way you run the show.

They need stability. The need structure. They need to know that they can count on you to make tough decisions. 


Hack #3 - Listen

You might think you know everything, but let’s be real. You don’t know jack.

All kidding aside, it is important to understand that you don’t know everything and it is possible (VERY likely *cough cough) that your team knows better than you. Every person on your team offers a different perspective. Listen to their perspectives. This will give you eyes and ears on everything that is happening at your hospice. If you really want to have your ear to the ground to what goes on at your hospice, you HAVE TO SHUT UP AND LISTEN to your team. They know more about what goes on in the trenches than you do.

You’re the eye in the sky, but your team is the boots on the ground. Shut up every once in a while and listen to the people closest to the action - your team.


Hack #4 - Hire Nice People

Disney World is the most magical place on earth for many reasons. One of which is their Cast Members, or more commonly called - employees.

Interestingly enough, Disney looks for one single quality during every interview - Is this person friendly?

If so, great! Training someone to do a job is already difficult enough without having to train them to also be friendly. So why are we comparing your hospice to Disney World? Well, Disney World and your hospice have one major characteristic in common - You are both in the customer service industry. Disney has park guests and you have patients. It’s a very simple concept.

Don’t hire crabby people. Only hire friendly people because you can’t teach friendly.


Hack #5 - Take the Blame 

It really sucks, but you have to do it.

All great leaders are willing to take ownership for their team’s short-comings. Blaming an employee for a service failure is the easy way out. I’m not saying that everything is your fault per se, but I am saying that you need to realize that all problems start at the top.

Taking the blame on behalf of your team yields two benefits to your hospice organization. First, your team will respect you for taking a bullet for them. Second, your team will be more inclined to do their best for a leader they respect. 


Hack #6 - Be Approachable

It’s obvious but often overlooked. What makes someone approachable?

Well, lots of things, but let’s focus on the easy ones. Did you put on deodorant this morning? Do you project an aura that is inviting for others to talk to you? Try smiling and standing up straight. Keep in mind that you love your job and you’re dang good at it. Do you keep your office door open or closed? Do you talk “to” or “at” your team?

Most importantly, when is the last time you told someone they are doing a great job? It’s easy to focus on the things that need to improve, but it’s even more important that your team gets a pat on the back or two for all the things that they do a great job of. 

It’s curious that human beings naturally crave attention and we leaders usually only give attention to problems or people that need fixed. Notice how we are rewarding poor actions? Reward the good behavior by drawing attention to it. Your team and your patients will thank you.


You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Wow. All of these hacks are super obvious. What a freaking lame article!

And while these hacks may indeed be obvious, how many of these 6 things are you actually doing each day?

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Great organizations are great because they do the easy and obvious things that most people write off as non-essential.

Yet, a Chick-fil-a employee saying “My pleasure!” seems to make all the difference.