Team building is crucial to any team across all industries, but as I personally learn to juggle keeping the balance at home, as well as at work, while conforming to new systems, one industry consistently flashes in my mind: Healthcare.
The healthcare industry will never be the same post-COVID-19 and their needs will need to be addressed.
I think about the teams on the front lines of the hospitals who are scared, tired, and unable to even see their families as they quarantine in solitude between shifts. I consider all of the practices and other medical facilities that are forced to shut down amidst state regulations and health safety protocols which means a sharp decline in the need for keeping staff resulting in loss of jobs.
As a consultant who helps teams navigate through a myriad of internal struggles from mergers to conflict resolution to leadership development, I think about our healthcare workers who will need the biggest boost when things get “back to normal.” They will need to hear encouragement, feel safe in their workplace, and be given an opportunity to re-establish rapport.
The Keys to Success for Healthcare Teams Post- COVID-19?
- Provide a safe and positive work environment.
- Recognize that fears and insecurities will vary by person and the ability to meet these individual needs.
- Be open to different schedules, patterns, structural ideas, and overall change.
- Offer fun networking opportunities for the team to collaborate and strategize while problem-solving together.
- Provide fun team interactions that will boost morale and create positive energy.
Provide a safe and positive work environment.
How can you ensure that your team will feel safe coming back to work? Reading the news can be a daunting task these days. As a general rule of thumb, I do not care to start my day with things that will weigh me down, but to be a productive member of society, this means staying apprised of current events and doing my part to contribute accordingly. I have to assume that my team has had their morning dose of news as they walk in the door and that they may be on edge. As the head of many teams, I juggle between the various hats that I wear at any given moment. Whether I am leading my team at work, my family, or Tribe, as I choose to say, I have to remember that they are looking to me for reassurance and stability during these uncertain times. In a way, maybe mothers can somewhat relate to healthcare professionals- after all, we are full-time nurses around the clock.
As a mother of school-aged children during the pandemic of COVID-19, I never thought I would understand so fluidly the statement, “parenting does not come with a set of instructions”. You can plan for every given situation perfectly and feel that your carefully mapped out future agenda is failsafe for any foreseeable occurrence, until the world comes to a complete stop- literally.
Not only do you find yourself working to stay mentally focused with a positive outlook, but you know that your children are watching and modeling your behaviors which makes navigating the unknown with your head up paramount to the overall balance of your family. As the head of household at home as well as a leader at work, I feel that now, more than ever, the structure is key to success: Staying on a schedule, doing your work to the best of your ability, communicating effectively and focusing on the positive are all important components to success, especially in the face of adversity.
A University of Michigan study, led by psychology professor Barbara Fredrickson, explored the importance of positive thinking and emotions on our experience of:
- contentment, and
These four positive emotions have a number of ripple effects on our behavior. Fredrickson went on to say:
“Joy sparks the urge to play, interest sparks the urge to explore, contentment sparks the urge to savor and integrate, and love sparks a recurring cycle of each of these urges within safe, close relationships.”
Recognizing that fears and insecurities will vary by person and the ability to meet these individual needs.
But, what about the sense of stability that your team needs to feel? How about those feelings of uncertainty and fear that need to be addressed, cradled, and simply allowed to exist? Shouldn’t I recognize that every person deals with these important feelings in very different ways? Even more, so is the ability for me to be open to the idea that maybe it is okay for things to go a little differently now. Allowing my children to have feelings about the pandemic is absolutely their right. Engaging in new practices that will allow them to be productive while also providing a relaxed and positive environment where they feel safe is crucial.
For example, some of our team members prefer to wear a mask while in public for a number of reasons, not one of them mattering more than the most important which is simply that it makes them feel better.
According to Newsweek, many Texas cities have mandated wearing face masks in public as the state geared up to slowly reopen. “It’s going to become part of our culture, at least in the short and intermediate terms,” Dr. Mark Escott, interim health director for Austin and Travis County told the American-Statesman. “It’s something we have to embrace now as something that’s critical over the next three-week period.”
Being open to different schedules, patterns, structural ideas, and overall change.
As my children find themselves stuck at home, unable to see their friends and expected to finish their school year via distance learning, perhaps they should be afforded the opportunity to create a schedule that works for them, provided the work is getting done. As I find myself considering new ways of life for my Tribe, I think about how very much this correlates with our teams at the office.
My teams will tell you that I tend to create an agenda and roll with it- sticking to each bullet point, as written. Yet, in every meeting I make sure to ask for suggestions as I truly am mindful of the fact that my team is only as good as the people in it and the best way to succeed in business, is to surround yourself with the very best. As a manager of multiple businesses and teams over the years, my tendency to follow a carefully thought-out plan with clearly defined expectations has always proven successful. But, how can you continue as normal when life has quite literally changed overnight?
Case in point: my children and I have a pretty good system going right now. We each have our own workspace, calendar, and schedule. They know what they need to do, my expectations for meeting their deadlines as well as carrying weight around the house and doing their part. On the flip side, they know that when Mom is working, all is calm, quiet, and they are respectful of my need for solitude without interruption. They also know that the sooner I can complete my work for the day, the more available I am for the ample family time we now have for which I am truly grateful. It took some tweaking and changing it up before we found our rhythm, but so does any well-oiled machine.
Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps. I have not failed. I’ve just found 1,000 ways that won’t work.”
Offering fun networking opportunities for the team to collaborate and strategize while problem-solving together.
It goes without saying that business is business. Everyone has heard the old adage, “Leave your home life at home and business at work”. While very good advice, this certainly leaves room for creating solid, good working relationships that are also fun! Teams need to be able to get along with each other while also respecting the unique idiosyncrasies that define each individual as integral parts of the whole.
Last year, I had the opportunity to facilitate a Build-A-Bike team-building event for Raytheon. Sixty of their project managers from around the world flew into the States for their Leadership Summit and my event was the wrap-up to a week of back-to-back meetings. About 15 minutes before it started, my point of contact came into the room and said, “So, I don’t want to put the pressure on you but this group is hard-headed and does not like being told what to do. You have a tough crowd.” I paired this information with what I already knew: the majority of these people spoke English as their second language, this would be the first time for many of them to be meeting in person and they came from vastly diverse backgrounds.
To listen to this group of strangers working and collaborating together through different accents and thought processes to gain the bike parts will always be a highlight of my career. Everyone just blended together as humans with the same goal: we are going to work together and build some bikes for kids. The highlight of this particular event will remain forever stamped in my mind as the most beautiful conversation I have ever witnessed. One of the reps from Asia participated as instructed but never spoke. One of the children who came to receive one of the bikes was very scared and couldn’t talk very well (he was only around 4 years old). At the end of the event, when I brought the children in to surprise the team, that woman instantly approached him and I watched them have a conversation without ever speaking a word. As he stood there looking at the bike, she held out her arms. He looked at her for a few seconds and then reached up to touch her cheek. She touched his hand and smiled. After a few seconds, he smiled back and then gave her a big hug. Those two spent the next moments laughing and smiling and riding his new bike all around the room. I may or may not have wiped my eye.
Look at what this group of people came together and accomplished!
This also reminds me of my Tribe- the same common interest of being in a family but very different personalities and opinions who must learn to respect each other in order to operate at full capacity as one cohesive unit. The same rings true for my team at the office.
These last five weeks have awakened my attention to the fact that change is inevitable and my reaction to the circumstances and willingness, or lack thereof, to adapt will control the rate of my success. These profound realizations will benefit me as a mother, as a manager, and as an instructor as I set out to build teams other than my own.
Maximizing on new ways of successful interactions through team-building exercises that build morale.
Each year my client with Providence St. Joseph calls me up to schedule their annual team-building event and I always enjoy talking with her- her laugh is contagious! And, it’s not that she is just super happy all of the time- she’s happy when we talk because she absolutely loves giving the gift of team-building to her team! She is excited to plan and execute something that will create an opportunity for her team to have some fun while working together towards a common goal: a gift to underprivileged children within their school district. Her teams look forward to the event and feel valued.
To maintain the good morale in your team is like changing the oil in your car- put too many miles on it without relief and the engine will start to sputter. Investing in the maintenance will ensure optimal performance and an extended lifetime of top results.
When you have employees who feel valued, confidence soars and work production is at its peak.
What does this mean for your team? How can you ensure the success of your healthcare team post-COVID-19?
- Your team will thrive and grow in a positive and safe environment as they try and acclimate to their new normal. Encourage openness and the freedom to express feelings as they come.
- Treat each team member as the individual that they are and recognize their strengths and value that they bring to the team. This is vital to your ability to accept their weaknesses and an opportunity to help them grow and flourish.
- Understand that the world, as we know it, has changed. With change comes an opportunity to grow and this knowledge, coupled with your desire to succeed, will radiate though the smiles of your team.
- Accept that your team is only as good as your investment– create those opportunities to get to know each other, build rapport, learn how each other’s brains work and how to solve problems in a fun and exciting way.