With challenges come opportunities. Rather than wielding a budget cleaver and chopping staff, Lassiter hired a like-minded C-suite team that engaged staff to find savings across the organization and that would result in fewer job eliminations.
"We used a team approach to garner revenues, enhance cost savings, and find contract savings," he says. "We also had a (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) survey of our psychiatric facility that happened six days on the job that wasn't particularly flattering.
It was the first time in my career that I had had a survey go that badly. I used that as a rallying cry for the organization and I challenged the organization. 'Do we believe we should go from survey to survey riding correction plans, or are we going to focus on creating discipline to demonstrate that we are better all the time?'"
While the first months on the job proved stressful, Lassiter says they also demonstrated his commitment to the mission, and his willingness to listen.
"I thought it was important early in my career—and still to some extent now after a number of years—to make sure that the organization understands that the problems can't get solved in just the CEO's office, the proverbial ivory tower," he says. "Organizations like ours are large and complex and if you are going to drive accountability in your organization, then everybody has to play a part in solving problems."