Encouraging innovation in your team with the help of an executive coach

by Claire Merrick

04 April 2016


Is your finance team less proactive than you want it to be? Are you frustrated by its lack of creativity? Do the team members seem constrained by rules and conventions? If so, it might be time to work with an HFMA Executive Coach to explore ways to encourage your staff to show more initiative.

Getting your staff to think creatively isn’t always easy. Healthcare finance leaders often notice how excessive bureaucracy, being bogged down with daily tasks and putting out fires can be major barriers to encouraging innovation. So how can working with a coach help you to get on the front foot?

Making it clear that you want and need your team to take the initiative. 
Making small changes to your leadership style can have a big effect on your team members. Allowing people to show initiative isn't a sign of managerial weakness. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Working with a coach can help you to shed your fear of losing the initiative, and take steps to share it with your team instead.

Looking out for times when staff in your team are taking the initiative 
and commenting positively on it. To encourage creative thinking you need to notice when it’s happening and thank staff for their contributions. Working with a coach can help you to reflect on what’s going well at the moment, explore ways to encourage people to prioritise team and organisational goals, and find ways to emphasize that processes need to be flexible and open to change.

Not focusing on mistakes
Accuracy and strong attention to detail are important, but if you want to create an environment where your finance team generates new ideas, the team members need to be reassured that you support them. Working with a coach can help you to understand how you are seen by others. It will also allow you to find new ways to reassure staff to give them the security they need to try something new.

Thinking about how the team act together
It’s no good focusing on one person in the team and expecting them to act differently. The tendency will always be for the team to set the norm, that’s how peer pressure works. You need to focus on the team, not on an individual. Working with a coach can help you to explore ways to foster a culture of initiative in your team which will encourage people to take a self-starting approach.

Setting an example
As a leader you are the model for the entire team so building skills to encourage innovation is key. If you work with a coach, you will develop some of those game-changing skills, including:

  • questioning: innovative people always ask “why” and they love to challenge the status quo
  • observing: innovative people pick up on the smallest of details in how people behave and the ways in which things are done, giving them food for thought
  • networking: innovative people invest time in linking up with people from different backgrounds and with different expertise and learn from them
  • experimenting: innovative people constantly explore new experiences and new ways of doing things 

As a finance leader you are probably recognised for your specialised expertise. You may pride yourself on knowing the “right way” to do things. Unfortunately, this could be precisely what is getting in the way of encouraging innovation. If your organisation is undergoing significant changes and you are being asked to build strategic alliances and solve problems based on the broader needs of the organisation, you may need to redefine your perception of your role. Working with an HFMA executive coach can help you to let go of “your way” and build a finance team keen and able to take the initiative.



Why not book a taster session? Contact Claire Merrick to book.

To find out more about HFMA's Executive Coaching Service please email or telephone 0117 938 8359.