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How to Get Ready for “What Matters to You?” Conversations

Jessica Perlo, MPH, Director, Institute for Healthcare Improvement


Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:
  • Discuss how to prepare for “What matters to you?” conversations with staff.
  • Discuss why leaders may be hesitant to ask staff about what matters to them.
  • Explain why it’s crucial to have a senior leader champion when trying to improve joy in work for staff.

Description: The first step to improving joy in work and addressing burnout is for leaders to engage colleagues to identify what matters to them in their work. They can do this using “What Matters to You?” conversations. Sounds simple enough, right? A short, four-word question. “But the conversations, we learned in crafting this White Paper, aren’t easy at all,” says Jessica Perlo, MPH, a Director at IHI. These three actions will get you ready to ask, “What matters to you?”— and help prepare you for the answer. Learn more in IHI’s White Paper, “IHI Framework for Improving Joy in Work.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What three steps can help you prepare to engage someone in a “What matters to you?” conversation?
  2. Why are leaders sometimes hesitant about asking staff what matters to them?
  3. Have you ever asked anyone, “What matters to you?” What did you learn from the experience?
  4. Has anyone ever asked you, “What matters to you?” What did you say? What was the result of the conversation?
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