Without doubt leaders and those working in healthcare organisations face some really challenging times. Some might even say that this is the most challenging period in the history of the NHS. With demand rising and financial resources reducing, leaders have to face up to difficult decisions.
Faced with difficult decisions there is a fine balance to be struck between acting too early and waiting too long to act. The worst of all is neither facing up to reality nor taking decisions.
So what can leaders and healthcare do in these challenging times?
Acknowledge The Challenge Is Real
If you have been in healthcare for a long time you might think that this is just the normal cycle of events and things will soon return to business as usual sooner or later. While this might be tempting, what’s different this time is that the economy as a whole is struggling, not just in the UK but globally. Getting to first base is about acknowledging the challenge is real.
Don’t Go For A Knee Jerk Reaction
People who work in healthcare are primarily from professions and by nature risk averse. If they see a knee jerk reaction to challenges it will put them in a position of extreme concern and potentially result in resistance to any thing that is proposed.
Whether you like it or not people will fill in the blanks for themselves if you hold back information. Make a point of communicating clearly, concisely and simply what the situation is and the potential consequences.
Choose Your Words Wisely
Certain things you say will reassure, while other things will cause anxiety. Try to avoid emotive language or words that make things seem worse than they really are.
Don’t Pretend It Will Go Away
It might be tempting to go into denial in the hope that the issues will go away. As the saying goes, decisions don’t get easier if you delay them they just get later.
Use The PDSA Approach When Making Change
PDSA stands for plan, do, study and act. In essence it involves planning what you are going to do, doing it, studying the impact and acting to adjust, refine or start again. One of the big benefits of this is that it is an approach very familiar to clinical professionals. As a result it is more likely to be seen as a robust approach.
Keep Things In Perspective
When under stress it is easy to blow things out of proportion. While the situation you are dealing with might well be difficult, try to stand back and look at things in context.
Learn Whatever The Outcome
There are going to be times when things go well. Equally there will be times when things don’t go so well.
Whatever the outcome look at the learning.
The Bottom Line: The leadership skills and attributes of leaders in healthcare are being tested like never before. At times like this it is not the situation but the response that matters.
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