- Susan Snedaker
Leading Through Recovery
This past year has been difficult for everyone, but healthcare has been at the center of the pandemic and has been hit especially hard. No one in healthcare was unaffected by the pandemic. Though healthcare IT jobs are not patient-facing, they are certainly impacted by the overall environment of the organization in which they operate, especially in acute care settings. IT staff were often called upon to move equipment, provision telehealth solutions on the fly, enter COVID patient areas to deploy or repair computers, tablets, printers, and scanners. Medical devices were moved, reconnected and tested in COVID and non-COVID areas. Systems had to be re-configured or modified to accommodate unique and never-before-seen scenarios. Cybersecurity risks grew exponentially and hackers targeted the already overwhelmed healthcare systems.
So, if you’re a healthcare IT leader, understand you and your teams have probably been deeply affected by the pandemic in terms of the work you do in ways your friends and neighbors may not have been. It's a simple but powerful acknowledgment.
The next step? Take a breather. Take some PTO. Then, reset.
First, look for signs of trauma or stress with your staff. Though they may not have been on the front lines, they were impacted in various ways and everyone responds differently. Assist them in seeking the appropriate help to ensure they find their way back to a more normal life. You can’t fix their issues, but you can help them navigate if they are too overwhelmed to do so on their own. Most organizations have employee assistance programs or referrals. You can also find ways to flex to help them continue their recovery. Ask questions, listen compassionately, help them help themselves.
Next, work with your teams to settle down and regroup. Some of the ways to do this are like spring cleaning. Straighten up and organize – your people, your physical space, your applications, your hardware. Find your ‘junk drawers’ and clean them out whether they are physical or virtual. This process of sorting and organizing is both productive and necessary. And, it gives people the opportunity to come down from the adrenaline of the COVID response and begin to recuperate.
Finally, take time to refresh your own leadership fundamentals. In my book, Leading Healthcare IT, I provide step-by-step actions you can take to ensure you and your teams are primed and ready to go. Now, more than ever, it’s important to ensure you’re doing your absolute best as a leader to help you, your teams and your organization recover and rebound successfully.
I find when I'm helping others, I am often recharged and energized.
Helping lead the team back to a better place can be as helpful to the leader as to the team.
We've all had to dig deep for the past year and we're not in the clear just yet.
But as we look to define a new normal, we can make a positive impact by being the best leaders we can be. That starts with taking care of yourself, then your team, then your organization.