Having resilient healthcare teams is essential for the immediate and long-term success of healthcare organizations. Resiliency is crucial and challenging now, considering the current pandemic, financial constraints, rapidly changing technology, and fluctuations within healthcare delivery systems. Even typically resilient workers are emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted.
It’s critical to realize that resilience is a state of being that must be developed over time. While no person can ever achieve 100% resilience, individuals who possess the following traits will fare better than others under stressful circumstances.
- Tenacity - positive outlook, problem-solving
- Focus - attention to detail, memory management, self-initialization
- Gratitude - optimistic and positive mindset, patience
So how can healthcare leaders help their teams develop these attributes? Let's explore 7 top ways of building and maintaining a resilient healthcare team:
1. Leaders must be able to demonstrate resilience through words and actions.
Practice what you preach. If team members see their managers working long hours to accomplish goals, they are more likely to follow suit. Team members want to feel valued and appreciated for their efforts. Look for opportunities to praise colleagues’ and employees’ resilience wherever it surfaces and be generous with your praise. It can be as simple as saying, “I appreciate the amount of on-call you committed to this month – we really value your hard work and dedication” or “I am grateful we have such a collaborative team who are committed to patient care.”
When you practice resilience, it can open the door to building trust and strengthening relationships.
2. Create a positive atmosphere for learning
If team members feel that they are being ridiculed or shamed for not knowing how to do something, they will be less likely to become curious about learning new skills. Instead of asking someone who is struggling with a task, “Why don’t you know how to do this?” say “Let me show you how to do this. It just takes some getting used to. I am here if you need any help.” Also consider creating an environment where colleagues can learn from each other. Learning from others is a big part of the resiliency process and can help each team member feel empowered to grow even further.
3. Recognize that learning is a lifelong process.
In order to stay resilient, healthcare leaders must prioritize self-care as a way of maintaining their own resilience over time. Learning how to say no to projects or requesting help can be difficult, but it’s important to have boundaries so you have the energy needed to take care of yourself.
4. Create a sense of purpose
It can feel challenging during this time of uncertainty in healthcare when many organizations are restructuring or downsizing. However, showing employees and medical colleagues why they are working hard every day will motivate them and give a greater sense of meaning in what they do at work. One way to do this is by asking each person“How does your work contribute to the mission we are working towards in this medical practice?”
Healthcare leaders and practice managers must be able to streamline patient scheduling and workflow so healthcare providers can prioritize their workload and patient load effectively, feel confident in what they are doing, and have time to learn new skills that will empower them to grow in their profession. Workshops or trainings that teach strategies for organization are helpful in developing resilience.
Resilient healthcare team members need support from everyone - including leadership. They want to feel valued and appreciated by leaders who take the time to offer insight into how their employees’ efforts contribute positively toward meeting organizational success goals. If team members don’t feel like they matter, then their resiliency levels will fall. Encourage them by reinforcing their efforts and praising their successes. In addition, help team members take a break from the pressure of day-to-day tasks to relax and recharge.
7. Promote communication
When healthcare professionals have conversations with each other about stressful situations or work challenges, they can feel empowered to overcome obstacles together as a team. This builds resilience among all members and gives everyone an opportunity to learn from one another. The key is for leaders to allow colleagues and employees time to talk with each other about things that are going well as well as areas that need attention. An open door policy where there is no judgment on what is discussed will contribute greatly towards making everyone feel more comfortable speaking up when something isn’t working.
The resiliency of healthcare teams is crucial to enduring and thriving in this time of change. By creating a supportive culture where learning, purpose, encouragement, communication, and organization are promoted, healthcare organizations can build a workforce that will be resilient for years to come.