I Realized That to Be a Good Manager, I Needed the Best Possible Training

Sally Järvelä, Deputy Chief in Tampere University Hospital, took part in Aalto Executive Summit in Singapore at the end of August 2017.

Reetta Räty, 31.08.2017

Participants of the Aalto Executive MBA program that began in spring 2017 include many doctors and other health care professionals. Doctors want to be managed by doctors. Now the industry has woken up to the fact that leadership requires proper training, says Sally Järvelä.

Specialist in orthopedics and traumatology Sally Järvelä has worked as a doctor for nearly thirteen years. During her career, she has seen both well-organized work communities and what happens when a clinic is run badly.

“Personally seeing what type of health care results from good and bad management makes one realize how important professional leadership actually is.”

Järvelä is the deputy chief responsible for the operative side of first aid at Tampere University Hospital. This means plenty of meetings and responsibility.

Doctors want to be managed by doctors. But a doctor’s education doesn’t qualify for management tasks.”

“When I first started, I asked what was expected of me. My boss told me to find the problems and fix them. That’s what I’ve tried to do.”

Before, hospital staff would become managers through seniority, whether or not they had the right capabilities. In the best case, this could lead to charismatic, revered managers – but even they had no management training.

“With the impending social welfare and health care reform in Finland, doctors have woken up to a need for trained managers. Also attitudes are shifting: a desire to become a manager is no longer a cause of embarrassment.

“Doctors want to be managed by doctors. But a doctor’s education doesn’t qualify for management tasks.”

There has been an experimentation with professional managers who are not doctors themselves. According to Järvelä, this has led to conflicts. Ethical and financial values have become muddled up and ended up in the wrong order.

“You cannot only measure financial profit in this field. Activities are steered by ethics and moral decisions. Prioritizing doesn’t work without an understanding of what doctors do.” 

”I wanted the best training you can get.”

Management training arranged by Pirkanmaa Hospital District aroused Sally Järvelä’s enthusiasm to study more. She realized how interested she was in management theories and know-how. Järvelä is paying for the program herself. “I decided to find out where I could get the best possible training. I looked into different programs and wasn’t ready to compromise.” She compared the accreditations and rankings of different options, travelled to Helsinki for a chat about the program offered by Aalto EE, and contacted people who had completed it.

“Previous participants had gained surprisingly much from the program. It’s no wonder. I’m really satisfied, too.”

People are more eager to share ideas now that the first thing isn’t to focus on what won’t work.”

Järvelä started putting lessons into practice at her workplace almost immediately. She is now six months into the program and has already initiated many changes at the hospital. “I’m getting messages here in Singapore asking what changes I’ll be bringing along this time”, says Järvelä.

Ben Nothnagel’s sessions inspired Järvelä to approach the management team about changing meeting routines. “I realized we were using each other’s time inefficiently, weren’t adequately prepared, thought about limitations first… Rather than being smart together.”

Järvelä’s suggestions were received with open arms. The management team got together for a day with an aim to improve meeting routines. Meetings are now shorter and more purposeful. “Instead of immediately thinking whether we can afford or succeed in something, we are learning to think about the first steps. People are more eager to share ideas now that the first thing isn’t to focus on what won’t work.”

“After each module, I brief my colleagues on what I’ve learned and how it can be put to use at work. We have an open atmosphere, and it’s been fun to inspire people with new learnings. The program has benefited the entire workplace already now.”

Sally Järvelä chose Customer Experience as an elective module at the Singapore Summit. “Along with the social welfare and health care reform, customer experience will offer crucial competitive edge. It’s exactly what we’ll be competing over with private operators.”

The annual Aalto Executive Summit has proven to be an excellent way to exchange experiences with a large group of global and experienced leaders. Aalto EE offers Executive MBA -programs in seven locations: Finland, Singapore, Poland, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and Iran. Read more about Aalto EMBA.

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