Leaders everywhere are adapting to new environments - here are a few lessons Crothall leaders have found helpful
By Kevin Yon, Crothall Healthcare Division President
This crisis has touched every aspect of our lives and is unmatched in its magnitude – it’s unlike any previous national emergency. At Crothall’s Environmental Services (EVS) unit, everyone is working through weekends to coordinate our labor and supplies and move resources from one hospital to ensure our clients have everything they need. And it just keeps going; it seems like everyone in the company is working 12-hour days.
Fortunately, good computer models are starting to predict the disease’s peak activity by state. This information will help us plan ahead for staffing and supply needs for the next several weeks.
Day in and day out, our environmental services directors, managers and associates are the front line in infection prevention. To help teams continue performing at high levels, here are a few things I’ve learned about leading during this time that might be helpful to you in your context:
Over Communicate with Your Teams
Provide facts and answers so everyone has the resources they need. Help them understand where they can get supplies and how to redirect resources. Above all, remove any obstacles from their jobs and respond to their questions. They are really good at what they do, so in many ways, we need to get out of their way so they can do it.
Provide an Open Door
An “open door” policy allows directors and managers to ask tough questions and provides a forum to voice any frustration. Everyone needs an outlet to express their ideas and concerns; once they’ve been heard, they can go back to work.
Take mental breaks and get physical exercise to help maintain perspective. Otherwise, you will get tired and lose your ability to think clearly and lead confidently. I have an indoor bicycle and a regimen I stick with daily to get enough exercise – even thirty minutes a day makes a huge difference. We are all feeling pressure, so taking care of ourselves will help us stay focused and get the job done.
Say Thank You, and Repeat
Take every opportunity to thank your teams and let them know they are valued. I’m humbled by their dedication. They never cease to impress me and never complain. If there’s a silver lining to the crisis, it’s that all of us have been reminded of the value of our healthcare workers, especially environmental services associates who keep our hospitals clean. We received a note from the top management at Novant Health in Charlotte, N.C., complementing the excellent work by our housekeepers during the first few weeks of the crisis. The executives shared that our team not only did their jobs, but continually asked how else they could help and embraced our EVS associates as part of their whole care team. Gratitude expressed in this way is especially meaningful – the kind of thank you that acknowledges work well done while also offering support and inclusion.
Remember to Look Ahead
Depending on where you are in the country, this crisis might feel as though it will never end, but the truth is we will get through this. And when we emerge, we need a plan. For example, many hospitals are currently focused on getting supplies and caring for their patients now, but as the crisis begins to subside, the focus will shift to controlling and reducing costs. As a partner to hospitals and health systems, we’re preparing our plans now to make sure they get through the peak in patients, but stand ready to help them meet their financial goals once patient volume begins to drop.
For instance, one Florida hospital has set up outdoor tents to provide triage for patients. If they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, they will be referred to the emergency room. These tents require nightly cleaning, so we’ve redeployed associates there without adding new staff (more cost) since the hospital’s outpatient area has been shut down.
We’re planning ways to reduce costs for other hospitals, too. We’re ready to be proactive, making sure our focus is on patient care and minimizing areas where there aren’t essential services.