July 12, 2019

A couple of weeks ago, I visited Austin for our New Employee Pep Rally. As most of you know, the New Employee Pep Rally is an event I’ve hosted for the past 30 years so that I can meet all of the new team members who have joined Texas Children’s in the last quarter.

I originally got the idea for these receptions from my pastor. When I joined my church many years ago, the pastor held a welcome event to meet all of the church’s newest parishioners. It was such a great way to make a big congregation feel like a tight-knit community, and I immediately knew I had made the right decision in joining this wonderful congregation.

I look forward to the New Employee Pep Rally every time it rolls around. Having the opportunity to meet our new team members who are excited to be a part of Texas Children’s energizes me and fills me with excitement every quarter – and our first event in Austin was no exception.

As I was driving to Austin on I-71, I thought to myself, “This is going to be really good!” Turns out, it was even better than I had expected! Our first pep rally at the Specialty Care facility in Austin was one of our best ever!

We officially welcomed nearly 70 new employees, physicians and staff to our one amazing team, and each of them was so excited about what we are bringing to Austin! Between the pep rally and a tour of the facility, I spent nearly two hours at the Specialty Care site and enjoyed every minute. Please scroll through the photos I’ve shared below so you can see for yourself how excited our team is and what a fantastic time we all had meeting each other.

The Austin community is also equally excited to have Texas Children’s in their own backyard. Texas Children’s Urgent Care opened in March 2018 and has already seen more than 3,000 patients this fiscal year. We have three Texas Children’s Pediatrics sites and our Specialty Care has already had over 2,300 patient encounters since its opening in October 2018. And this is only the start – our specialty services in the capital city are continuing to grow with more to come in the next few months.

When we decided to expand to Austin a couple of years ago, it was a natural extension of our mission to provide care and access to more families in Texas. This is precisely what it means to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time. The pep rally was a great reminder that we’re not just adding new locations – we’re expanding our care, our mission, and our culture.

We are all very excited that Texas Children’s continues to grow in strength and in numbers – but, just like my pastor, I always want to make sure that every new employee knows that they are special to our organization. Each employee brings a unique skill set and personality, and all of us together contribute to our One Amazing Team and the incredible culture we have created. These new employee pep rallies bring us all together, and whether you’re based in the Texas Medical Center or 175 miles away in Austin, each of you is a part of Texas Children’s.

We’re at the beginning of something magnificent in Austin, and we’ve got a great team there leading the way.

January 13, 2019

A few years ago, I heard a powerful message from Dr. Ed Young, the pastor of Second Baptist Church. He was delivering a sermon that revolved around the toxicity of gossip. He said something that stuck with me, and I even shared it with you here on my blog.

Basically, it was four questions to ask ourselves when we engage in conversations that are tempting and intriguing, but not necessarily in anyone’s best interest. Dr. Young challenged us to ask Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

Recently I ran across a variation of this. An acronym that reminds us to T.H.I.N.K. before we speak. Ask is it true, helpful, INSPIRING, necessary or kind? I really like the insertion of the word inspiring. It takes the saying one step further and challenges us to use words in a productive way. To focus on building something, making it better or moving it forward, and to exercise our power to be a positive influence on others. Asking that one question – is it inspiring? – would divert so much of what people say these days.

I’ve found myself thinking about this often. Turn the television to any news program covering politics, and regardless of your position, most of us would agree there’s little being shared that inspires us. More often, viewers are left with a sense of negativity, uncertainty or distrust. Some of what we hear does little more than pique wasted curiosity, and the only thing it inspires is palace intrigue. Is that helpful or necessary?

It’s easy enough to turn off the television, but what about workplace palace intrigue? That tempting, curious interest about who said or did what and an uninformed opinion about why. What does that inspire? The same sense of negativity, uncertainty and distrust. None of us wants to be part of something like that. That’s not our culture. What brings people to Texas Children’s is our shared desire to be better and to do better.

In a large, dynamic organization like ours, there is always movement and change within a workforce of nearly 15,000 staff and employees. Change is natural and inevitable, and it’s actually a really good thing for our organization that often presents us with new opportunities. But if we’re not careful, gossip can distract us from those opportunities.

Be bigger than that. T.H.I.N.K. and stay focused on what really matters to our organization – moving our mission forward. Our patients and families trust us to keep that focus.

I want each of you to click here to print out this acronym – T.H.I.N.K. Keep it some place visible in your work area and at home. Use it as a barometer for your words and a constant reminder of who you are and what we’re doing here. I know we’re surrounded by acronyms, but let’s make T.H.I.N.K. our collective and visible commitment to inspiring good.

 

December 12, 2018

Last year, Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives announced plans to merge their operations, and a few months ago, Baylor Scott & White Health announced its intent to merge with Memorial Hermann Health System.

These mergers will consolidate four sizeable systems into behemoth operations, and that seems to be a trend. In the last 18 months alone, there have been 197 health care merger and acquisition transactions announced. So it stands to reason that faculty and employees here might wonder, “Is Texas Children’s considering merging with another health system?”

The firm and resolute response to that is, “No.” Texas Children’s has no plans to merge with another system. Here’s why:

We care about our people. Remaining committed to Texas Children’s mission is just as important for our staff and employees as it is for our patients and their families. One of the most significant impacts, when systems merge, is the dilution of culture, and we will not sacrifice our culture or the people who have nurtured it. Texas Children’s is who we are because of who you are. We take immense pride in the culture of excellence and passion for patient care that we all share. It is the hallmark that distinguishes us. I simply cannot imagine Texas Children’s with a leadership team operating the organization for our people from a remote location in another state. Our leadership team is here, engaging and working with you to make decisions that directly impact you and our patients and families. That is our vision for our future.

We’re growing the right way. When you see nearly 200 health care mergers and acquisitions in less than two years, it’s hard to ignore. Some health care systems are growing tremendously. Some need financial stability, and others are simply expanding market share. That’s why growth continues to be important to Texas Children’s. We know market share matters. Size matters. But the way Texas Children’s grows matters to us most. We’re growing aggressively, but we’re thoughtful about our expansion – it is always aligned with our mission to advance patient care, education and research for children and women.

We’re staying focused. Texas Children’s Hospital was founded to care for children. And when we expanded our scope to include women’s services, this was a natural evolution that allowed us to create even healthier futures for children by first taking care of women who would someday become mothers. We now care for women at every stage of life and for children before they are even born. At nearly 65, Texas Children’s is the youngest of the nation’s top children’s hospitals, yet we are leading advancements in medicine for children and women around the world. We have built Texas Children’s as a system intently and passionately focused every single day on advancing and advocating for the health and well-being of children and women. We will not veer from that. Our ability to provide this focused continuum of care is in the best interest of families who seek our expertise and consistently experience exceptional outcomes because of it.

We’ve never been better. Texas Children’s just closed a phenomenal fiscal year … again. We opened the Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower, expanded our business to Austin, we’re financially strong, and we’re ranked among the top four children’s hospitals in the U.S. These are just a few highlights of an impressive year, and this year is like so many others we experience at Texas Children’s, time and again. Our capacity to invest in state-of-the-art facilities and continue to expand so that we can provide care in the right place at the right time for our patients speaks to our strategic vision and sturdiness, our ability to respond to the ever-increasing demand for our services and to the exceptional care we provide.

When we say we are one amazing team, we mean that. We have one mission here, one focus and, as a single, cohesive team, we are all moving toward a single destiny for Texas Children’s. Together, we are defining our tomorrow and pouring our passion, best ideas and energy into a promising, sustainable future for us and our patients for decades to come.

October 12, 2018

Maxim 10: The best companies in the world are those that have outstanding frontline leadership.

When you’re blessed to lead an organization as successful as Texas Children’s has been, people often want to know the secret. They ask all the time, “How does Texas Children’s continue to do so well?” And the funny part is, it’s no secret at all. In fact, the reason for our success can be found right out front – or more specifically, on the frontline.

It’s good to have a visionary CEO and a strong leadership team. But if a company doesn’t have great frontline leaders, quite simply, that company is not going to be successful. Our frontline is the face of Texas Children’s – they are invaluable to our organization. They are the ones interacting with our patients, families, medical staff and the general public, often making the first and most lasting impression on everyone who comes into contact with Texas Children’s.

Martin Wortley in the Customer Care Contact Center (CCC) is an incredible example of an employee who keeps his focus on ensuring patients’ and families’ experiences with us are exceptional. Perhaps he draws from his own experience – he first came to Texas Children’s for treatment of kidney stones when he was 10 years old. Years later, he returned to Texas Children’s, working in several frontline roles that gave him the opportunity to interact with patients and families and understand their needs. These roles also helped him learn about various parts of the organization, making him a great resource to team members and patient families as they navigate our system.

Martin is now an Assistant Director in the CCC, and his primary focus is the same – making sure our frontline staff keeps families first. This is critical because, as a call center, the CCC is often the first interaction a parent has with Texas Children’s. Martin nurtures the relationships with his staff and providers, and he goes above and beyond to set an example for providing exceptional customer service to our patients and families. He consistently shows initiative and has a thoughtful approach to problem solving and communicating, which goes a long way to make sure families get access to the care their children need in the timeliest manner. Martin’s leadership and success is directly reflected in the warm, positive – and efficient – experiences families have with our CCC staff.

I am extremely proud to have frontline leaders like Martin on our one amazing team. Therein lies the “secret” to our success. We have a lot of awesome things going on at Texas Children’s – opening of the new Legacy Tower, expansion into Austin, Aa2 bond rating for 22 years straight, ranked among the top children’s hospitals in the U.S., no. 11 on Forbes list of best employers for women … and the list goes on and on. How do we achieve success after success? The answer is right out front.

I’d like to hear from you … is there a great frontline leader in your area? How do they inspire you and your team to be one amazing team?

Take the leadership challenge, and score a spot at a Houston Texans event!

Over the past few weeks, Mark Wallace’s blog has been highlighting employees who demonstrate his Maxims of Leadership. Each blog post poses a leadership question that Texas Children’s employees may respond to in the comments section until October 19. 

Afterward, the Corporate Communications team will randomly select 75 people from the comments to attend a private event with the Houston Texans, including a behind-the-scenes tour of NRG Stadium, an autograph session with two Houston Texans football players and photos with the Texans cheerleaders.