Sr. Mary Jean Ryan shares positive attributes of accountability during lecture

Mount Mercy welcomed special guest Sr. Mary Jean Ryan, FSM, Chair and CEO of SSM Health Care as the annual MBA speaker on October 4. Her lecture, "Accountability: The Pathway to Excellence" urged audiences to consider the positive impact accountability can have over employees and workplace goals.

Accountability, according to Ryan, is a word that is often misused. While often associated with negative behavior – as all-too familiar corporate scandals can attest – Ryan believes in the positive force behind the word.

As the leader of a large and complex health care system, Ryan sees accountability as a force for positive change. During her compelling lecture to students, faculty, staff and community members in the Chapel of Mercy, she recounted how accountability can become a tool to "call forth the spirit of potential greatness in every employee."

As an example of this positive change reactor, Ryan shared her experiences of working with other key leaders to oversee the highly successful implementation of a Continuous Quality Improvement program that not only led to a prestigious Baldridge Award in 2002, which honors institutions and organizations that exemplify performance excellence, but helped build a legacy of patient care that continues to inspire employees and patients alike.

For Ryan, accountability means focusing on success, not on negative behavior. It is the perfect tool for inspiring pride in the people who work for you. And the results have been stunning for her organization. Ryan shared with audiences that operating turnaround time has been reduced from 30 to 15 minutes, opening up space for more emergency surgeries, and the rate of blood stream infection – a common but serious challenge for all hospitals – has dropped to just 0.4 percent of all patients.

"Holding people accountable means inspiring them to be the best they can be," said Ryan, who shared five crucial steps that any organizational leadership can utilize to help instill pride and obtain positive results from employees:

1. Communicate clear expectations with staff.
2. Help staff develop and implement strategies to meet those expectations.
3. Give employees the tools they need to successfully do their jobs.
4. Make sure employees are secure in the knowledge that someone is paying attention to their work.
5. Celebrate with employees when they meet goals: coach and support when they don't.

"The only way we can transform our organizations is by investing in people," said Ryan. 

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