The Power of Preventive Assessment

I just returned from Toronto where I spent some time in the hands of an amazing corps of health care professionals at Medcan, North America’s biggest preventive health clinic. I heard more than one story of how Medcan’s preventive assessments saved lives — and enormous medical cost.

Medcan’s CEO, Shaun Francis, is an alumnus of my Total Leadership course at the Wharton School, which he took in 2003, and he kindly invited me to try the service his firm provides. I was blown away. In less than a day, I underwent a comprehensive set of health assessments — all done with great care, professionalism, technical excellence, and no wasted time. None!

I came away with some very useful information about my own health and the adjustments I need to make to manage it more wisely. The knowledge you acquire when you take a close, candid look at every dimension of your health is empowering. I’ve never had the opportunity to take a such detailed view of my health, and as a result I feel a greater sense of control over my future.

So, ill-informed as I am about the state of health care in America, not to mention the rest of the world, the first thing I exclaimed, in my end-of-day conversation with Shaun and a few of his colleagues, was, “Everyone should have this!” Of course, they agreed.

As a manager you need the same thing for your people; useful information about what’s working and what’s not, and evidence-based ideas on how to maintain the former and reduce the latter. A well-run 360 feedback process can provide this at the office, but it’s especially fruitful if your sources of feedback include people beyond your circle at work.

First, identify the most important people in your life at work, at home, and in your community. Then ask them what they want and need from you. Finally, describe your expectations for your own performance.

Look for patterns you may have missed about how the different parts of your life affect each other. You’re probably overestimating what they really expect from you; you might even be missing a major priority of theirs, or putting effort into something that doesn’t matter to them at all! Talk with your key stakeholders to verify and, where it makes sense, change those expectations. (For more ideas on how you can do this, check out the part of my book that focuses on being whole, or this post on focusing on what matters most to you.) The upshot: a greater sense of control and power to shape your future. It’s usually better to know the reality of what you’re facing than to deny it.

Even if you’re the one manager out there who doesn’t feel like she’s running around putting out fires or (to mix my metaphors) skating ahead of the cracking ice, remember that preventing problems is always less costly than waiting for them to erupt. It’s as true in your workplace as it is at the health clinic.

So, when was the last time you did a comprehensive assessment of your health — and your performance?

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