John Bentley: Hey, great to be here, Randy. Looking forward to our time together.
Randy Ford: Why don't you remind us what Power2Transform is, and I'll say again that's "power," the number 2, "transform," dot com.
John Bentley: Yes, sir. I founded the company really because I struggled just getting results through people building trust, maximizing influence and leading successful change. I just
struggled with it. And then one day I was identified kind of: why do you do that, John? What's causing you not to connect with people? Instead of connecting, you're more at them. And again I'm bumping my fist together for the audience -- at them versus with them. Now I'm clasping my hands together. And I went on a journey then to understand why. And what that led to was really: how do you help people understand why they do what they do so they can focus on leveraging their strengths and then mitigate those things that cause them to slip, trip and fall? So I provide leadership development for healthcare professionals with the goal of helping them achieve better results faster, through and with others.
Randy Ford: How is it that you chose that industry to do this work in?
John Bentley: Well, is it all right if I share a God story with you?
Randy Ford: Please.
John Bentley: I was on my way back from doing a consulting assignment in Georgia with a nonprofit. I normally take a certain path home and when I got to a point, I said, "You know, I've got time today. Instead of me taking the normal path home, let me just follow this road further west," and 30 miles later out of nowhere -- at least for me -- this hospital appeared, this regional medical center. And I said one thing out loud driving. I said, "God, please allow me to work in there someday." Didn't think anything about it. That was like April of 2006.
Randy Ford: And where was this?
John Bentley: This was in Cullman, Alabama. Thank you for asking me. Cullman, Alabama, about 20 miles south of me here from Hartselle. And a year later my father-in-law called us, almost to the day a year later. He lives an hour south of us and he said, "Hey, what will you meet us in Cullman? I'd like to eat at Cici's Pizza, and I want to buy y'all dinner." So it's a Friday night. We always went out then, the children were still at home and younger. So we eat. And Friday nights we would always take the children to Books-A-Million and really just sit back relax, have a coffee. The kids would walk around the store, read their favorite books. The Books-A-Million that we went to though was north of where we live. So that meant I had to leave Cullman, drive past my home, go to Decatur, Alabama. And my wife Laura saw my face that probably I was a little bit frustrated. And she said, "Hey, sweetheart, there's a Books-A-Million here in Cullman." "All right, let's go. I'm in." We're standing there, and I see a lady pulling books off the bookshelf in the business section, and she pulls out one of The Four Elements of Success. Now that's basically it, for those of our in our audience that are familiar with the DISC model, it's about behavioral styles, just written in a different format. And I made the statement, "That's a great resource. I use it in the work I do." Well, she turns around gives me this funny look and says "What do you do?" And I didn't have a standard line. I said, "I help leaders work with their employees to help them transition through change so they can get on board and buy in quicker. So she puts her hand on my shoulder, looks me dead in the eye, and says, "I don't mean to scare you. I've never been in a bookstore before. The only book I read is the Bible. And I prayed that God would send someone to me to help me with what I'm going through. And you just nailed what I'm going through." Long story short, I did two free pro bono sessions, did a small 30-hour session with them with some leaders that paid for their own way to go into it. The CEO got wind of it, and I got hired to be their on-call organizational development specialist. I worked four years with them. So through that time period I just fell in love with that. The people in that profession of how noble they are to go in there and take care of others. And it just warmed my heart. And it was an instant connection for me. So that's why I chose to stay in this niche in health care.
Randy Ford: That was that hospital that you wanted to be in, where you ended up doing this work with them?
John Bentley: It absolutely was. Absolutely was. So sometimes, you know, for me there's so many other stories like that that I could share that God put that in my path to go in there and use my skills and also to grow as well. Because I didn't know anything about health care. The CEO and the staff: it was him, three other senior executives and 36 managers, and it was just amazing. We put a program together for them to build trust and understand each other better. And I've actually got on my LinkedIn profile -- for those of you listening -- you can actually download the case study there. Also have a video there, "The leadership development ROI." That's about a three-minute video of the CEO and the chief nursing officer talking about the return they got on working with us in leadership development.
Randy Ford: What was that learning curve like? Learning this "niche," as you described it?
John Bentley: Well, one of the things that I've been gifted with -- and I really didn't know this until the CEO pointed it out, Jim Weidner -- I have a gift of being able to hear and see their language and translate what I do into it. So, I'll give you an example. After being there for three years he said, "What do you know about Lean Six Sigma?" I said, "Well, I know enough about it that I could create an educational system around it, but I would want a trainer to train that for me and be part of it. So in Lean Six Sigma they have a model called DMAIC. It was Design, Measure, Analyze, Implement, Control. And I recognized right away that we had to put that into the health care language. So what is it that health care does? They assess, they diagnose, they treat, they prevent. So we change the language to meet their conversation, so it was understandable to them. And one of the major success stories we got after training 24 people is in their same-day surgery they had a whiteboard at they're tracking surgeries on. Now think about that for a minute. It's 2010, and they're tracking patients and the status of them with a dry erase marker and a whiteboard. The supervisor, the nurse back there was averaging 200 phone calls a day. And primarily that was because loved ones out in the waiting area want to know about their loved ones, the patients.
Randy Ford: Sure.
John Bentley: And so after training them in-house, they develop taking smart boards, putting it electronic back in the OR area. They also had it at the nursing station and they had it out where the family members are waiting on their patients. They spent a total of $9,000 and they reduced their phone calls from down from 200 a day to an average of 20 a day, which meant now, that nursing supervisor could be engaged in patient care. It also meant that it eliminated mistakes of where the anesthesiologist or the doctors needed to be, because they didn't have to look at a whiteboard that might have a mistake on it. Everything now became electronic, and the number one thing that really happened out in the waiting area is those family members now had a PIN number for their loved one in surgery and they could literally track from when they went from pre-op, into surgery, to post-op, back in the waiting room, which helped eliminate those phone calls and create a more cohesive unit because communication improved for everyone.
Randy Ford: That whiteboard method had probably been in use there for decades and was before the patient load got to where it was, right?
John Bentley: I would imagine so. You know after we did the training, I wasn't involved with helping implement that piece. But what what turned them on to the Lean Six Sigma piece is we consulted with a patient hand-off of elderly going into nursing homes. And we went in and did an assessment. We quickly discovered in the past quarter they had lost $250,000 because they couldn't get the patient discharged and into a nursing home or assisted living quick enough. So we brought a team of those leaders together and helped them learn to understand each other better. And the process didn't change. Just the communication and how they handed off the patients changed, and that helped avoid a cost of $250,000 pretty quickly.
Randy Ford: How do you do that? How do you change the way people talk to each other?
John Bentley: The first thing I start off with is really talking about mutual respect. A lot of times we make assumptions about someone's intention by the way they say it. Some person will be very direct, very blunt. Someone else wants to talk and give all the details. Someone else is looking at, you know, "How do I support you? I really want to keep stability in the process." And then you got a guy like me who's got a thousand ideas driving people crazy. So the idea being is mutual respect is, "I value you and what you bring to the table and who you are and when I understand that your intention is not to cause harm to me or cause problems for our, for our process, then I can respect you." And then the next thing we do once we get you clear on how to communicate and value each other's input is now we focus on what's the purpose, what's the mutual purpose we're going after? Because here's what I found, Randy, is when people start what I call again "at each other" -- with my fist bumping here -- "at each other," it's usually over how they're going to do something better or different, which is strategy, versus why we want to do it. And I learned this from again the gentleman from our last episode, Chief Master Sergeant Russell G. White, who shook the Coke can.
Randy Ford: Yeah.
John Bentley: He Would call the six of us in as supervisors,and he'd share with us, "All right. Here's the issue we're facing," and I love his terminology, "We're gonna fuss, cuss and discuss it. We're gonna get it all out on the table. Everything you're thinking, everything you're feeling. And then what I hope is you guys make the decision. You guys and you ladies make the decision. If you don't though, I'm going to make it. Here's the bottom line though. Once a decision is made, doesn't matter whether anything you said was used or not. Here's my definition of consensus: everybody walks out the door giving everything they've got -- all their talents -- to accomplish our purpose that we've agreed upon. That's consensus. Not everybody having to agree on everything."
Randy Ford: And that's what health care providers, or health care professionals, I guess, are trying to do. They have a goal. Their goal is to save lives. But then they can get caught up in the day-to-day differences about how to do that. Is that right?
John Bentley: Well, I think the differences are today are the pressures they're under. I mean let's face it, with the constant changes in the regulation and the policy and the constant cuts of their reimbursable dollars that they get for providing services, that creates financial pressure. You know: what are we gonna do to keep the date to keep our doors open. What are we going to do to keep our doors open and then their quality is now scrutinized because reimbursements are based on their quality levels as well. So constant change causes those pressures. And then, there is a chronic shortage of qualified people and staff. So if you think about it, it's really a perfect storm where it's almost -- change never stops and the brain works on things being certain and when it's not certain in our minds, our brain automatically goes into problem-solving mode to fix and solve something. So now you got all these entities coming together, trying to figure out how to give great patient care at the lowest possible cost and deal with the financial cuts that we're facing. It's the perfect storm for conflicts and angst and turnover. So the more we can help people understand how to lead themselves in the moment and not be that Coke can where they explode and force people to do things or take over and do it themselves. And the opposite of that is, if you've ever put a Coke can in the freezer and forgot about it?
Randy Ford: Right.
John Bentley: It comes back it's all bent out of shape? Well, that happens, too. People just kind of, what I call give in -- versus the dig in of the exploding Coke can -- they give in and therefore they can't think logically on how to solve the problem, how to make things better, how to treat each other like human beings, because they're under that constant pressure.
Randy Ford: How does that frustration manifest itself when you sit down with a group to start this "fuss, cuss and discuss" process?
John Bentley: Well, the number one thing I've found is you've got to give people the space to talk and get it out on the table no matter how it sounds or how it looks. One of the activities that that I like to use and I worked with when it was an issue with the emergency health services, is that I basically went and did a quick activity just getting people to see hey, we are different, but guess what we all have strengths which we've discussed. And then I like to use a butcher block and Post-It notes and just get people to write down everything that they're thinking about on a Post-It note. One idea per Post-It note. We post that up and then we get people to to -- at that point, let's put them into categories to see what are the real issues and then let's vote on what we control what we don't control. So I try to create a controlled environment that allows people to share what's going on without it turning into a constant blame game and us walking away worse than it was. Because what I've learned is if you can have -- if you can create the environment, an assessment that provides data, that's a framework for discovery and dialogue. And when we can have our debates and arguments around the data and what it's telling us versus each other, then we can make decisions to make things better and improve.
Randy Ford: Do you see things getting any easier any time soon for rural health care professionals?
John Bentley: Aw, that's a tough one with the constant changes. The one thing that that I can see getting better is if an organization has a set of values that say we respect -- respect is a big one. And we've got a couple of behaviors like I'm going to listen to understand and I'm going to really value your strengths, if they'll focus on living that value -- versus letting it just be written on the wall as a checkmark that we have values -- and they start measuring and rewarding people for living those values, that that's where it's gonna get better for them as individuals and teams. And what I've come to understand when you have a real tight cohesive team that can be a lot of pressure, but they tend to rally around each other to solve the issue or fix something or help each other versus fighting. And if you think about an emergency room and how it functions, they're so cohesive because they're so trained to deal with that emergency. Imagine if we can get the folks in health care to take that same focus on no matter what the situation is and leading themselves and bringing out the best in others, what they could get done. What solutions would come forward.
Randy Ford: Have you seen organizations get to that point?
John Bentley: Yeah, I'll go back to when I first started. I was working with a fire sprinkler company over in Georgia. They had expanded from probably 10 or 12 employees and one or two office people and about eight or nine folks out in the field inspecting installing sprinklers. They grew to 60 people very quickly. So they had 22 on the inside and approximately -- what what does it give me -- about 38 or 40 on the outside doing the work in teams. So met with the CEO and we talked about what she wanted and how we might go about it. I did an assessment and I went in and worked with them for seven half-days on using the DISC profile, the behavioral assessment that we use, and the other half-day I coached individuals. So she wanted to create a certain culture of cohesiveness and working better with the folks doing the work in the field. Well, what we've quickly found out is six of the people on the team -- six of 22 -- did not buy into the culture. They left. They quit. She was OK with that. She didn't have to hire back because those 16 were working so strong together, they were performing the mission that needed to be done inside that better supported the people doing the work outside that brought in the money. So when you spend time truly understanding people and understanding yourself first and not looking to find fault or blame in others, but be willing to get on board and solve the problem, that's when the magic happens.
Randy Ford: I think it is time for our Insight2Go, the recommendation that you have for our listeners of anything that's been on your mind lately.
John Bentley: Andrew Carnegie is one of the gentlemen that I've followed for years. And for those listening, if you remember or don't remember, he was a millionaire and worked in the steel industry in the 1900s. He'd be considered a billionaire today. Well, in reading some of the autobiographies and biographies about him, he was being interviewed by Napoleon Hill, who wrote Think and Grow Rich. Napoleon Hill had decided in those 1920-28 era to interview the most successful people in the U.S. in order to be able to write a book called The Laws of Success. He ended up writing two volumes, 18 total laws. One of the questions he asked Andrew Carnegie was "How is it, Mr. Carnegie, you have 43 millionaires working for you?" And Andrew kind of chuckled and shared back and said, "Well, Napoleon, they weren't millionaires when I hired them." "Really?" "Well, how is it, Mr. Andrew Carnegie, that you could hire -- that you could bring in these people and grow them to where they could become millionaires?" And Andrew Carnegie said, "It's simple. You mine for gold the same way you develop people. So you develop people the same way you mine for gold. You got to move tons and tons and tons of dirt to find one little ounce of gold, but you don't go in looking for the dirt, you go in looking for the gold. And that's what I would share with our listening audience here today. What are you looking for? Because whatever you're looking for you're gonna find. But let's search for the gold and find everyone's gold and use that to make the organization better for ourselves, those patients that we serve and our sustainability into the future.
Randy Ford: John Bentley has been our guest. Power2Transform.com. Again that's "power," the number 2, "transform," dot com. Thank you so much for being here, John.
John Bentley: My pleasure, Randy. Thanks so much.
Randy Ford: For Howard Fox, I'm Randy Ford. This is The SuccessInSight Podcast. We'll talk to you next time.