You and your internal stakeholder community (ISC) are all experiencing stress, uncertainty, and tremendous change as a direct result of COVID-19. The impact of this pandemic on hospital employees and culture has been profound. Hospitals across America are scrambling to connect with, support, and empower their clinical and non clinical teams.
The landscape of change is familiar, yet entirely unprecedented:
1) There has been a great deal of change and uncertainty in the employee experience since this pandemic landed at your front door.
2) You have had a few enterprise realignments of priorities; layoffs and furloughs; heavy workloads; workplace intensity: and the list could go on and on…
3) You do not truly know (and certainly don’t understand) the current sentiments of your internal stakeholders,
4) You feel an urgent need and desire to connect with and learn the realities at ground level.
5) You are looking for an innovative and sticky solution.
Your First Priority: Seek understanding.
Understanding. Not knowing—there is an important difference between knowing someone (or something) and truly understanding. At LIFT, we are working with our clients to conduct stakeholder analysts in healthcare as quickly as possible through an internal stakeholder assessment. This is a methodical approach to engaging with and learning from the stakeholder that is grounded in empathy.
In the face of so much stress, it is imperative that hospital and health system directors lean in and do a little research, ASAP. You must first seek and understand ISC sentiment in order to pivot to better serve their immediate needs as well as the long term needs of your hospital.
To do this, we are helping our clients explore and understand three key aspects of their reality. We also use this insight to inform a fresh strategy to connect with and empower the internal stakeholder audiences in the wake of this pandemic. The first two aspects are all about uncovering reality at ground level, and the third will set a framework for designing impactful solutions.
1) How do they feel?
Honestly, what are the feeling? We know that the demands have been high and that the emotional and personal challenges are real. Connect with stakeholders and ask them empathically and honestly how they feel. Listen and document those feelings and be prepared to help clients navigate through them.
2) What do they think?
In uncovering stakeholder feelings, you will find opportunities to delve into the thinking around feelings and beliefs—the two should go hand-in-hand. Given the array of fresh emotions that are swirling through your organization, it’s important to uncover the “why” (thoughts, beliefs, fears) behind the “what” (feelings and emotions).
Understanding what your internal stakeholder community is thinking and feeling is a foundational first step to crafting messaging and strategies that will serve your organizational communications initiatives well. Guaranteed.
3) What actions should you take?
Lastly, now that we have some real empirical data, it’s time to act—but how? Taking what we have learned about people’s reality at work, we are ready to explore actions we might consider as we build a fresh strategy. The best way to do this is to organize your insights into themes and engage your team in a little design thinking. Through targeted design workshops you will surface the right approaches and messages for a fresh communication strategy. Once this is completed, you are ready to implement your vision.
Try this new mantra on for size:
Why do these things?
Understanding the answers to the three questions laid out above will set the groundwork you need to empower a more relevant and forward-looking communications strategy.
This approach will help you shift your narrative to champion the voice of the very people upon whom your success depends. If you seek to influence them, then understand them first. An insights-based approach will help you acknowledge the sentiments of your internal teams—demonstrating an understanding of their thoughts, needs, motivations, and beliefs.
We have had to do a lot of things differently in the midst of COVID-19 and we must take what we are learning and both connect with and re-commit to the people who make your hospital and health system great.
Tying it all together.
We know that we can do a better job communicating with our teams. To that end, we must connect with and engage them with empathy and in a voice that is relatable and empowering. We must show we care about them—at work and at home—that we care about their well-being. We must help them see they have a safe place to work and build a career. We must embrace them physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Let LIFT help you frame up and implement a study that will put you on the path to a more productive internal stakeholder communications strategy.
Let’s connect and let one of LIFT’s internal stakeholder strategists help you plan your next move.