These last four weeks have been critical for business owners who need extra help to lead teams through times of crisis.
I’ve spent many additional hours with my own clients since this pandemic disintegrated the order they once knew just one short month ago.
While each of my clients has a unique set of circumstances, taking the necessary time to listen to the leaders and their teams allowed me to create a forward thinking plan with every single one of them.
Packed full of easy action steps, they now have a process they can adopt immediately to guide them through the chaos.
A LAY OF THE LAND
Today’s reality is not like anything we’ve had to face in modern times.
Within a matter of days businesses and livelihoods were confronted with unbelievable challenges.
As business owners and healthcare leaders stood in shock, they had to shift immediately into survival mode just to maintain some form of stability.
Although many of you have likely qualified for a SBA loan and or some other form of financial support, the other intangible impact that you are left to manage is the ambiguity, fear, and uncertainty of what is next for your business.
COMMON THEMES WITH MY CLIENTS
Perhaps more importantly, your concern for your employees runs deep.
Some of the questions and comments that my business owner clients shared during our sessions include:
- “ I want to protect them, I want them to be safe, I want to help take care of them and their needs.”
- “ I want to keep them as employees and want them to want to come back to the business and continue to work with me.”
- “I don’t know how to help them with their fear. I’m anxious and fearful myself.”
It’s an incredible testimony to me to see so many business owners with an employee first, business second mentality during times like these.
All the more truth to the statement being broadcast everywhere, “We’re all in this together. We’ll get through this together.”
HEALTHCARE PRACTICE OWNER CONCERNS
Once the financial solvency issues were addressed with C.A.R.E.S. or other funding options, deeper concerns for practice owners surfaced. Things like:
- how to keep employees busy and engaged when they’re at home
- what to do with the patients who are also in need of care
- how to help those that are paralyzed from taking action because they have so much fear and worry about the virus
I’m sure the majority of healthcare and physical therapy practice owners have made a major pivot to provide TeleHealth, TeleRehab, TeleMed and e-Visits to accommodate your patients’ needs.
It’s been a steep learning curve.
Not just for you, your staff, and your patients either. Even payors and national administrators are struggling to manage their way through processing and payments for virtual visits.
A SHIFT TO BELIEFS IS CRITICAL
Yes, the effects of this virus ecominically, organizationally and most importantly, emotionally are devestating.
Now is the time to acknowledge some simple things you all can do to accept “what is,” and “what you can control” so you can reshape the challenges you’re facing into outstanding opportunities.
Working from the angle of acceptance of what is instead of resistance gets you into a solution mindset.
When you do so, it allows you to proceed with tremendous optimism, garner staff involvement, and create innovative tactics for the action plan you create.
As I worked through these very issues with my clients and crafted customized action steps with them to manage the impact of this crisis, they shifted into a hopeful mindset.
Every one of them believes they will come out of this stronger and more resilient. They’ve gained confidence in their leadership approach and have a team that looks at trust, collaboration, accountability, and results very differently than they did just a month ago!
ESSENTIAL STEPS TO MANAGE THIS CRISIS
These are the five essential steps I’ve coached every leader to take with their team to navigate the COVID chaos.
If you haven’t already held a virtual all-staff meeting. It’s crucial.
During these initial one or two meetings, address the elephant in the room. That elephant? the impact of “ambiguity and not knowing.”
As a leader, you must set the stage for your openness, transparency, and vulnerability. Equally as important, is to have each staff member do the same.
When I facilitate these meetings with the owners, I suggest that they ask each person to share “ two words” that describe how they are feeling or what they are thinking about right now.
Acknowledge that these thoughts and feelings are real. They are also distracting and take your focus away from working towards a solution.
These thoughts and feelings create fatigue. Your team might feel like they can’t get anything done. And, they are likely correct on all counts. That is okay. Acknowledge and validate everything they share.
FINANCIAL AND PHYSICAL SAFETY CONCERNS
Ensure that you explain very clearly what protections you have in place regarding your team’s financial support and physical safety.
Financial Support And Stability
Be transparent. Explain exactly how you are ensuring financial success and what it means to them individually and to the business.
Explain what the state and federal guidelines are because they might be different.
You’d be surprised how some members of your team don’t pay attention to the finer details. Be sure to clearly explain how it impacts them and what they should expect.
Allow them to ask all the questions they need to in order to feel comfortable. Be prepared to say, “I don’t know, but I will be keeping you all informed every day.”
SHIFT INTO OFFENSE AND MOVE FORWARD
Many of you have already begun tackling the most obvious things you do during downtime.
Things like connecting with patient drop-offs, catching up on various forms of communication, following up leads, doing follow up calls with patients, etc. are all on your radar.
But I sense, as do most practice owners, that things are changing and will look different as we navigate over the next 3-6 months and beyond.
The ground is shifting. So, how do you plan when you don’t know?
You craft the direction given what you know right now. You can’t afford to wait to find out.
FOLLOW-UP GROUP MEETING
Have an additional group meeting during the same week you had the first meeting (or two).
Have everyone contribute to a discussion of what trends your practice is facing. Just a few months ago, the issues were ongoing reduction in number of referrals, declining reimbursements, and the need to continue to focus on direct to consumer marketing.
While these are all still relevant issues, ask what other trends your team sees that can stimulate you to think outside the box for a solution. Use the following graphic to help you complete this exercise with your staff.
One of my favorite two things to say to my clients are, “the obvious is not obvious” and “common sense is not common.”
This is a time that you, as the owner, cannot do it all, nor should you.
Now is the time to show your staff how much you value them as committed members of your team. Getting them engaged in this exercise is crucial, but not as crucial as the step you took as a leader to follow up with them again in the same week.
FOCUS AND DISCIPLINE SESSIONS
Make the most of your down time and have additional group meetings over the coming weeks. Hold anywhere from 4 – 8 more in order to discuss the following.
- Prioritization of the opportunities and ideas previously suggested
- Assessment of the ideas to decide if they align with your vision, core values and business direction
During this energy-grabbing, distraction-inducing crisis, it is important to take these “ideas” or “projects” and ensure that each step is small and achievable between meetings when you all communicate and share.
Identify individual staff members who would like to take the lead on a project.
Your job as a practice owner is to coach and mentor through this time.
Ask them honestly, what they want to accomplish on this project between meetings. Be sure to ask them if that goal is realistic. Suggest they should cut it in half. You want them to be successful in accomplishing the “small steps.”
FINAL THOUGHTS ON LEADING TEAMS THROUGH CRISIS
Remember, your job as an owner and leader is to help guide, mentor, and coach your team. Provide resources to support their growth, development, and successes during this time of uncertainty.
Every single leader in healthcare is driven to get things done. Your identity is tied to what you do…And it has been disrupted.
So you feel lost. What direction do you take now?
As a leader, you must help set sail and navigate these turbulent waters with courage, confidence, and conviction.
You’ll be amazed what you see and hear when you get to the other side of this journey. I guarantee “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” will be one of your recurring observations.
Thinking outside the box and planning ahead is powerful.
If you’re struggling to do so as a healthcare leader or practice owner, and you could use some help facilitating these types of meetings, schedule a free strategy session with me.