Amazing Teamwork During the Crisis
During the heart of the Coronavirus crisis, our team spent a lot of time helping physician leaders navigate the onslaught of daily challenges. As we are coming out of the immediate crisis, we consistently hear that physicians, nurses and staff were impressed with how people came together to face these challenges.
Teams that spent time developing leadership and teamwork BEFORE the crisis, really came through. Other organizations struggled and any cracks in their team’s “foundation” revealed themselves. But even in these situations, good people generally came together to find a way to get it done. They look back at that time and are thankful, and impressed by their teammates and that ability to come together.
(Blog: You may need to revisit the idea of physician-hospital alignment: https://j3personica.com/covid-19-physician-hospital-alignment-more-important-than-ever/)
Calm Before the Storm
Sometimes, under pressure, people drop the issues and dynamics that get in the way of effective collaboration. They innovate and problem solve. They display levels of psychological safety they didn’t know they were capable of. The crisis narrows their focus and they rally around a common purpose.
Every one of these teams is now asking “How do we keep functioning with this level of responsiveness, adaptability, respect and support for each other?” It won’t be easy. In fact, without a specific focus on these skills, it probably won’t happen.
“How do we keep functioning with this level of responsiveness, adaptability, respect and support for each other?” It won’t be easy. In fact, without a specific focus on these skills, it probably won’t happen.
The operational and process issues that existed before the crisis – are still there. The issues that got in the way of effective performance and team dynamics, are still there. They WILL resurface. Now, these individuals are also faced with:
- The repercussions of emotional trauma of the past 8 weeks. The trauma may have been the workload, the fear for their own safety, fear for their families, or concerns about their finances and their professional future. People have not had time to process the trauma. It will manifest itself as stress and in their relationships with others; and
- The additional stress and frustrations of NEW processes and policies related to COVID-19, and to re-opening departments and services that have never been shut down before – All of this in the face of unprecedented organizational financial challenges. There is NO playbook for what they are being asked to do.
We predicted it. We warned people about it. We are starting to see it. If you’ve not been thinking about how to regain trust, how to re-build teams, and how to lead effectively through this, you need to start, now. Asking physician leaders and teams to just figure it out is not an effective strategy.
If you’ve not been thinking about how to regain trust, how to re-build teams, and how to lead effectively through this, you need to start, now. Asking physician leaders and teams to just figure it out is not an effective strategy.
Working on Effective Leadership, and Teams – That IS the Work.
Leading effectively, and having high functioning teams, is not a program or “thing” you do in addition to the actual work you do. It IS the work you do. Effective leaders get results. Effective teams achieve goals. It’s that simple.
A successful football coach does not teach players “skills” on the field and then have separate “training” on how to lead and function as a team. These tasks are integrated because neither brings success in isolation. Great team dynamics fail without solid strategy. All the talent in the world will fail you if your people can’t function as a team.
Leadership and Team Function Drive Performance – Accept It.
Healthcare is, more than ever, a team sport but while we are getting better at acknowledging this, we still don’t do a good job DOING anything about it. The idea of building effective leadership and teams is often an afterthought, at best.
Physician leaders (all leaders), and their teams, have to be accountable for their performance and that means functioning better as a team. The goal is to solve the problem, get the work done AND always be working on leadership and team because THAT allows you to solve the problems and get the work done!
This concept has never been more important than it is in the current situation. Give your people what they need to succeed.
(Read about Physician Leadership Styles in the Post COVID World: https://j3personica.com/physicians-will-need-different-leadership-styles-coming-out-of-covid-19/)
Four Steps you Can Take
If physicians were struggling to lead effectively given the complexities of the situation three months ago, what are they facing now? If you have teams who weren’t making progress on key initiatives three months ago, how will they respond now?
- Do an honest assessment of your leaders and teams. How effective were they BEFORE the crisis? How well are they equipped to manage the new challenges? Do physician leaders have the experience and skills to deploy different leadership styles? Have you equipped team members with the basic structure, support and skills to communicate effectively, manage change, and handle conflict productively?
- Prioritize – Resources and time are going to be limited. Taking on a full-blown organizational leadership/teamwork/culture change initiative is not likely. Where, though, can you have an impact? Who needs the most help? How can you provide that help efficiently and effectively?
- Change the Narrative – This is not traditional “training” – that will elicit the “no money/no time” reaction from your people. This is about giving leaders and teams the support, structure and skills to accomplish what they need to accomplish. THIS is the work that will allow you to improve patient care, to adopt new approaches, to create an engaged medical staff and workforce, to solve problems with limited budgets – in other words, to succeed.
- Show People They are Valued. Much has been written about “engagement”. In order to engage your people, you need to make sure they know they matter. Get people to understand that the work of becoming effective leaders, and an effective team, is the expectation. It needs to be INTEGRATED into the strategy and tactical work being done every day, and you’ll support them in that work.
An Obstetrics department was struggling to implement a list of quality and care coordination initiatives. WHAT needed to be done was not in question. HOW to get physicians, nurses and staff to work together to get it done was the issue. Utilizing our “Department Transformation Program” methodology, the group worked to understand the barriers to success, and put in place a new structure to encourage a collaborative effort. More importantly, they integrated training and mentoring on leadership and team skills- learning these together AS they did the work.
During the crisis, this team gelled – leveraging their new abilities to communicate effectively, to lead and to solve problems, while supporting a new, collaborative culture. Now they are working on the original list of challenges – excited to apply lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis.
An Orthopaedic Department undertook the challenge of bringing the Chair and Section Chiefs together to create a more cohesive vision and plan to achieve their common goals. A strategic plan was outlined. This was supported by interactive work and mentoring on effective leadership and team skills. Every member of the team had to take on their own personal journey to being a better leader and team- member – because it would help them to achieve their goals.
They were amazed by how well they worked together once they had the structure and understanding of the skills required to achieve their own success, and support the success of the department. Now, of course, they are realizing what it will take to get the department back on track coming out of the crisis, and facing a large budget shortfall. Their new approach and skills will be put to the test.
Are Your Leaders and Teams Equipped and Ready for the Next Few Months? (You will find out quickly.)
The honeymoon of positivity from the response to the crisis is subsiding, and the reality of what the next few months will hold, is becoming real to people. They may not say it, but even your physicians are anxious, nervous, scared, and worried about their futures. Leverage peoples’ demonstrated ability to perform by pointing to the crisis, but at the same time give them a way to make THAT their new normal.
To learn more, visit us at www.j3phealthcaresolutions.com