MG David Rubenstein, FACHE, Past Chairman, ACHE
of Year Questions
A four-minute read
Howdy, all. I trust you and
yours are well as this eventful 2021 comes to a close.
Your work this year, individually and as teammates, has been critical to the health of your communities and the health of your organizations. You should feel a strong sense of accomplishment in what you and your team have done.
Any accomplishment, however, is mixed with lessons to be learned. Our military members know this as an after-action review (AAR). In an AAR a person or team looks at a specific mission, project, or event and considers what went well and what needs some work. Such a review needs to be scheduled, planned, and intentional.
While most AARs relate to a specific mission, project, or event, we all can undertake such a review for another purpose. Let me suggest we each do a personal AAR as it relates to a time period: an end of year, 2021 AAR. What went well this year, and what needs some work? I believe doing so will provide important lessons that will be helpful for successfully addressing missions, projects, and events in 2022 and beyond.
To tackle such a personal AAR, I suggest, when looking at your year in review, you consider the following five questions. Remember, such an undertaking should be scheduled, planned, and intentional. It should also be done with no, or at least minimal, expected distractions.
What are my top three accomplishments for 2021?
> Whether you’re under a formal annual appraisal plan or not, documenting your accomplishments has several benefits. First, and foremost, it reminds you what was right about the year’s events on which you spent so much time, effort, and talent. Second, your accomplishments were, in most cases, also team accomplishments. You’ll use this knowledge to further support and recognize your team. Third, it is a key reference for those times you and your supervisor sit down for a performance review or any other discussion.
What three lessons did I take away from my accomplishments?
> Our efforts during the year were based with success in mind. Our accomplishments are those successes of which we’re most proud. Excellent. But every accomplishment comes complete with lessons that are important to find and acknowledge. For any accomplishment, how might we have been more efficient; how might we have used our team better; how might we have been a better leader while also being a better follower? In the end, you’re identifying lessons from your accomplishments that will provide you with helpful insight when tackling next year’s projects.
What are three areas of improvement that came to light during the year?
> These are those things that you’re not so proud of. It’s important to have enough personal insight and courage to identify personal traits, skills, or needs that require your personal awareness and attention. While possibly discomforting, identifying these shortcomings will help you in the long run. This is particularly true when you answer the next question.
What is my specific plan to address the three identified areas of improvement?
> Your plan needs to include an objective, a process, and a timeline. Some areas of improvement might benefit by attending a course, reading a book, or subscribing to a podcast. Others would benefit by more active networking through your professional society. And yet still others require personal reflection or the help of a coach or mentor. In October I talked with a senior health executive who has gone so far as to hire a coach with whom he speaks every other week. And, as you may know, ACHE has a very effective mentorship program at both the national and chapter level. Both are helpful, and the conversations are confidential.
What is left undone that needs my immediate attention in 2022?
> Isn’t 31 December such a nice target for our year’s work? But let’s not be fooled. It’s only the next day in all the days that preceded it; and it’s only the next day in all the days that follow. As we wrap up our year let’s identify those missions, projects, or events that will carryover to 2022. Next year will bring its own set of priorities for our time, attention, and leadership (and followership). Ensuring that unfinished business is included in our 2022 calculus will be an important element to a successful year.
And now . . . .
After you’ve spent some quiet time considering these questions as it relates to your work and professional life, how about sharing them with your team during an end of year meeting: physical or virtual. In this case, it is important that you share the questions (not your personal answers) and discuss them as they relate to your team or group, not to the individuals.
Additionally, these questions can easily be used to your 2021 home and family life after a year highlighted with the ups and downs of the pandemic, politics, prices, and personal perspectives. May you all take some time to include home and family in your 2021 review and 2022 preview.
Thank you for all you and your organizations are doing to keep your communities healthy and to return the ill to better health. And thank you to those who have reached out to me with words of encouragement and questions to consider relative to this quarterly STC-ACHE editorial.
Best wishes for your every success into 2022 and beyond.
For Leaders Who Care!
Even as we shed masks,
Control the controllable;
For yourself, for others.
David Rubenstein, FACHE
Past Chairman, ACHE
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