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Leadership Lessons from the Field: May 2020 – Words of Advice from Leaders on the Front Lines

Leadership Lessons from the Field: May 2020 – Words of Advice from Leaders on the Front Lines

May 14, 2020

Maintaining morale & strategies for keeping employees motivated during COVID-19

  • Continuously communicate importance of their role as ‘first responders.’
  • Foster camaraderie – ‘we are in this together.’
  • Provide assurance that you are taking care of them (financially and with safety in mind) and you have supplies.
  • ‘Walk the walk’ – if you said you’ve done something, do it! Your operations must align with what you’re communicating. It’s about trust!
  • Express concern – call those employees who have contracted COVID-19.
  • Senior leadership and management being present physically is important. If you show you’re willing to take the risk, you can more effectively motivate employees to take the risk.
  • Take as much as you can ‘off their plate.’
  • Make sure you have transparent communication with families so that they aren’t upset with staff.
  • Video communication – reach them through means where you can demonstrate your compassion and authenticity. Don’t rely on stuffy email ‘Messages from the CEO’ to be effective. Don’t overproduce it but show emotion – speak from the heart.
  • Give t-shirts to staff – allude to their courage and their critical importance.
  • Try and be flexible with them – accommodate their staffing requests to the most feasible extent possible.

Building & fostering a culture of care during uncertain times

  • Lean on history and reputation – this is not the time to establish trust and a positive culture. The culture should have been in place long before the crisis.
  • People want to feel like what they’re doing is important – especially in a crisis – use that desire to appeal to them. Do everything you can to demonstrate that they have a critical role.

Encouraging transparency in communication among staff members

  • Don’t ever put yourself in a position where your staff says, “I didn’t know” or “that was unclear.”
  • Build trust through information and distribute it frequently (we’re not hiding anything).
  • If you’re communicating something with external persons, you should have already communicated it with your staff. Keep staff informed as first and most critical audience. Equip staff with knowledge so they can be your ambassadors.
  • Acknowledge staff fears and concerns, and even with bad news, tell them the truth.
  • Frequently communicate and provide avenues where they can express concerns and ask questions.

This month’s issue is courtesy of Deke Cateau, CEO of AG Rhodes in Georgia. The advice contained within this document was shared widely on the April 22, 2020 CMS National Skilled Nursing Facility call and is reprinted with permission.