Australia’s health and aged care sectors are swimming in riptides of change with the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, ongoing digital transformation and massive shifts in stakeholder expectations.
The brewing storm has seen many leaders vacate their seats, either voluntarily or forcefully ousted. Without a doubt, it requires grit, determination and a certain skill set to be able to lead effectively through change.
Change, as the saying goes, is the only constant. In a fast-paced world, the imperative to change is clear: without continually seeking to improve the way you operate, your company is unlikely to succeed or last.
- Keep your door open – wider than usual
Your staff will be confused and possibly scared about what the change means for them. Forbes recommends reassuring them that they can always approach you with their questions and concerns. If you aren’t available, staff will be left to speculate and rumours will swirl.
Ask what you can do to help them and demonstrate your commitment to ensuring the transition is as smooth as possible.
- Recognise the good
In what can seem like a chaotic whirlwind of change, even the best leaders can become preoccupied with processes, forward planning and risk mitigation. Employee recognition can slip off the radar, leaving your staff feeling overlooked and underappreciated. Change usually demands the entire organisation to take on additional work, at least temporarily. Don’t forget to recognise the extra hours they’re putting in or the effort they’re putting in to support their team. Allocate times and in your calendar to acknowledge achievements, and stick to them.
- Communicate the plan
You’ve identified your end destination; how are you going to get there? “Delegate work for each team member, and be specific—how can each person use his unique skills and talents to help the team transition and excel?” Forbes says. “Don’t just share the broad picture vision for where the change is leading you.”
- Develop your self awareness
Managing people through change can be difficult and leadership coach Dr Anne Brand says that’s where you have to be self-aware and present. “It really is a lot about being aware of how people are reacting to you. And if you tune in you can usually quite quickly pick up whether you’re rubbing people up the wrong way and it may be just because it’s their perception, their background, their beliefs, which are colouring that.
“It’s not necessarily something that you’re doing, but that’s where you might need to shift the way you deal with certain people. Some people do the same thing regardless of who they’re dealing with, instead of adjusting the way they’re behaving or coming across to the person so that that person will feel comfortable in your space.”
- Look after yourself
“You have to put your needs ahead of others,” Dr Brand says. “If you don’t look after yourself you’re not going to be able to look after everybody else. So it’s really important to have that self-care built in and be able to step back and be compassionate, but not too empathetic.
“It’s harder to actually not get burnt out by being too empathetic, rather than just being compassionate about things, and being able to just really step back a little bit from getting sucked into deep empathy. Then you really struggle with having to make the cuts you need to make, particularly in health and often with financial stuff.”
Criterion Conference’s Women in Health Care Leadership masterclass is specifically designed for women leaders and male champions of change in health and aged care to harness your strengths and drive change and innovation as an influential industry leader.
The event is running in a city near you, from 23 – 24 September in Perth, 26 – 27 September in Brisbane, 30 -September 1 October in Sydney and 3-4 October in Melbourne. This masterclass is facilitated by Dr Anne Brand who has served as interim CEO for the Tasmanian Health Organisation and Deputy Secretary of Hospital and Ambulance Services at DHHS Tasmania, among other senior positions in the Australian and South African healthcare sector.