5 Things I've Learned: Anita Messal

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Anita Messal has devoted much of her career to working in the health care field. As president and CEO of Evercare Hospice and Hospice Inspiris within OptumHealth, she is responsible for the oversight of this hospice business, which offers services in 21 states. Prior to this, she was the COO for OptumHealth International, where she led the global expansion and deployment of its products and services. She also is on the UnitedHealth Group’s board of directors for a joint venture with AdvanceCare in Portugal, which serves 800,000 members. A key component of health care is compassion, and Messal shares how compassion, coupled with effective communication, can pay dividends in the workplace.

1. Hire the best; believe in them, get out of their way.

It goes without saying that everyone wants to hire the best. People will achieve more than you can imagine when given tools and the knowledge that you have confidence in their abilities. That confidence gives them the courage to take calculated risks and advance the business in ways that would otherwise not be accomplished. It’s critical that managers communicate their confidence frequently, or results may not be optimized.

2. Set goals and measure results.

There are always a number of opportunities that will pull your business in multiple directions. The only way to know if you’ve performed is to set measurable goals in advance, and then report the results. Set high expectations, own the results, and don’t make excuses. It’s an important guide to knowing when to eliminate or invest in an opportunity.

3. Bring compassion to work.

Every day is based on interactions with people who do their best to perform at home and work. While business decisions are being made, it’s important to remember that people are impacted. This is especially true in the health care arena, where we are serving the sick in a complex system. We also expect much of our employees who may be managing personal challenges outside of work. Treat people well and it will pay back many times over.

Anita Messal

People like to have clear direction, know when changes are occurring, and engage with their work community.

Anita Messal, '03 MBA

4. Build relationships.

Every community becomes smaller each day with the growth of technology. We are all just a click away from interacting with someone across the world. Acquaintances, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and relatives will come in and out of your life continually on a personal and professional basis. Strong relationships will facilitate easy transitions, interactions, and ultimately—performance.

5. Communicate frequently.

All of the above require frequent and clear communication. Build an internal communications plan just as you would an external communications plan. People like to have clear direction, know when changes are occurring, and engage with their work community.