Maximizing people in the moment

Now is the time to maximize people, not profits.

As healthcare providers are undergoing a range of situations right now, with some entering their surge or in the middle of it, and others still steadying for it, the emotional strain on caregivers on the front line is continuing to grow. And so our CEO, David Jarrard, talks about how healthcare leaders can show care for those caregivers, remain connected with them, and help alleviate some of that tension that they’re facing.

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David Shifrin: Welcome back to J|Insights on The High Stakes podcast. As healthcare providers are undergoing a range of situations right now, with some entering their surge or in the middle of it, and others still steadying for it, the emotional strain on caregivers on the front line is continuing to grow. And so I asked our CEO, David Jarrard, to talk about how leaders can show care for those caregivers, remain connected with them, and help alleviate some of that tension that they’re facing.

David Jarrard: So we heard recently on a webinar from Dr. Arick Forrest at OSU say, “It’s the right time, it’s the right moment to be a people maximizer, not a profit maximizer.” That’s a succinct way of thinking about how we should act and communicate in moments like this.

It’s a highly emotional moment we’re in. And when we think about effective communications, we understand that emotions and facts, are both fundamentally important to how you communicate. But now the emotions in some cases are extreme and sometimes very justified, but also if we look at health systems across the country, they’re in very different places. So we have health systems in New York and New Orleans and in Detroit where the surges is happening.

And then in other places you have organizations who have made dramatic operational changes. They’ve laid off staff, they’ve decompressed all the electives, and so they’re under financial strain and they’re prepared, but they’re waiting. That also has its own kind of emotion because it’s full of pent up tension and anxiety and a real desire to do good or do good right now. And you have other folks who’ve been sidelined because they’ve not been deemed essential, whatever that means for different organizations. They’ve been, put on hold for the duration of however long that lasts.

This is really tough, complicated emotions for every single person who’s involved in healthcare. There’s no one who’s not touched, even if the surge hasn’t reached you .

DS: What does that mean for a leader? Because as a leader you have things that you need people to do. You have protocols you need them to follow. But it’s hard for people to sort of take those and internalize them until the emotional tension of the moment has been addressed. So they need to be acknowledged and seen, and then you can kind of start getting into the nitty-gritty of doing the work. So, yeah. What does that look like?

DJ: We’ve talked in all of our blogs and materials about all the ways that it’s important to do that: you’ve gotta be visible – physically visible. And that now means rounding and walking the halls. And if you can’t do that, if it’s not appropriate to do that because of the rules or infectious disease protocol in your organization, then you need to be electronically visible, through conference call or even better video calls.

And why is that important? Because so much information is conveyed visually. You can say these words and you can send the right emails, but people want to see you and how you act. The, the confidence that you deliver – are you nervous or not nervous? Are you stumbling or not, are you blinking a lot or not.

I mean, some of these things may sound small and odd, but they’re huge signals to people who are looking for assurance and confidence and stability.

DS: We have heard from people where front line staff do not see administration and wonder where are they? And it’s discouraging.

DJ: Yes. And if you’re a leader, you may be on conference calls all day long, or you may be tucked away in a command center. And so there’s a very good reason why you’re not as visible as you have been just weeks ago. And so when we talked about sort of recognizing people’s anxiety by calling you out and expressing your appreciation, part of that recognition is to say, here’s how my world is changed too. Here’s why I’m not as visible as I would like to be with you, but here’s what I am doing.

DS: And here’s how the changes that I’ve made are designed or are happening in order that I can provide you with the best situation that you can have in a really bad situation.

DJ: Yes. That’s a really good point as to going forward and it’s what I’m doing for you, what I’m doing for your colleagues, and how what I’m doing and what you’re doing fulfills the mission of our organization.

DS: What’s the most compelling or unique example of this that you’ve heard over the last two or three weeks?

DJ: I think one of the most compelling examples and I’ve found are, members of leadership team, in particular I’m thinking of a CEO who has donned the appropriate protective gear, to walk the halls and be with his caregivers and be visibly present in the moment. And being cautious as he does so as not to take safety gear away from those caregivers when they need it. So it’s a cautious and appropriately cautious approach, but understanding the importance of being physically available, I think, is a great signal of leadership that I’ve seen.

I think another example – and there’s been more than one – that have shown their leadership not only by focusing their entire organization on this issue but eliminating or pausing everything else.

So, not trying to confuse or not trying to do halfway measures. It’s all in. We’re all in here on providing the right care for this community through this crisis. In the meantime, all these other important things, while they remain important, we’re going to stop in order to do the things, The Thing, that is most important. And practically that means meetings are canceled and calls are canceled and emails are reduced and things are clarified. Which I also think is part of being resilient and having resolve in the moment.

David Jarrard
djarrard@jarrardinc.com