When any organization faces times of crisis, the feeling of instability can seem like fissures in the foundation.
For healthcare workers at hospitals, clinics, and practices, the negative effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have been extreme – marked by anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, lack of energy, and other mental and physical issues. These are not only devasting to the individual but can create a crisis for the team when everyone is in “all hands on deck” mode.
That’s why hospitals and healthcare organizations need to take steps before, during, and after a crisis to reduce psychosocial trauma and increase the likelihood that doctors, nurses, and other health workers can not only cope but thrive. This calls for both management and leadership to navigate through difficult times.
It’s important to address the most urgent needs while also guiding people toward the best possible outcomes when the crisis is under control. This calls for leadership in managing expectations and implementing new procedures to get control of the chaos.
Here are some suggested steps organizations can take to help support their healthcare staff during times of crisis:
A Team Needs Management. And Leadership.
It’s important to recognize the difference between managing and leading. A manager will address the urgent needs of the staff during a crisis and work to put out fires. The focus will be on making immediate choices and taking decisive action. A leader will create a long-term vision for navigating the crisis, anticipating what comes next, and planning how to proactively address upcoming obstacles.
Understand the Problem
Before a crisis can be addressed, it’s important to identify the current problems affecting the individual team members. Management/leadership can then focus on where they want the organization to be after the difficulties ease up and set new objectives to achieve these goals.
Communication is Key
Managing during a crisis means listening to an individual’s emotions, acknowledging their situation explaining how the organization is handling the situation. Share information about decisions that are being made and foster open discussions about how these will affect their situation in the future.
The healthcare landscape is always shifting, and new challenges multiply in crisis situations. Problem-solving requires uniting around a purpose, seeing the system differently, and unfreezing the organization. Innovative solutions can be found by staying tuned into your target audience’s needs via feedback, tapping into data to stay on top of market shifts, and trying a dramatically different approach to meet the changing needs in a new way. You may have to pivot and then pivot again.
During times of crisis and stress, it’s important to show empathy and leadership by asking questions – including working with individuals to express their feelings and provide suggestions. Show them you care by emphasizing their purpose and support the power and expertise they have to make good decisions. Keep in mind that the effects on behavior, morale, attitudes, and productivity may be different for each person.
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