How to Be a More Compassionate Leader in Your Medical Practice
To say this past year and a half has been hectic for healthcare workers is an understatement. Especially with the stress and trauma of dealing with COVID-19, paired with the labor shortage, it’s more important than ever to take care of your employees and show compassion as a leader.
Among other traits, compassion and empathy are important parts of strong leadership and can help you make the most impact on your medical practice. How you respond to situations and treat your employees can also help create a positive work culture and employee experience.
Here are a few ways to help you become a more compassionate leader.
Listen to Your Team
An important part of being a compassionate leader is actually listening to your employees. Without knowing what’s wrong, you can’t change anything, so be sure to actively listen to their feedback and ask questions to show your genuine concern.
Based on your team’s feedback, try to determine what changes you can make to better support them. Focus on and prioritize their needs and try to understand how your team is feeling and what they’re struggling with. Doing this, along with understanding their perspectives, motivators and roadblocks will allow you to show more compassion while also making sure your employees feel supported.
In addition, it’s helpful to think of your practice as a collective team rather than just you being in charge. With this mindset, you’ll cultivate an environment of inclusiveness where your employees will feel comfortable opening up and can be honest about their feelings. Try to schedule one-on-one meetings with each of your team members to facilitate an open discussion about how they’re doing. Having a designated time for this will help encourage more reserved employees to express their thoughts if they don’t want to reach out to you on their own.
In these conversations, you should offer your help and acknowledge their concerns and suggestions, even if you can’t currently address them. On the other hand, if you said you would do something, make sure to follow through to show you’re reliable and care about their concerns. For instance, if you received a lot of suggestions on how to improve your practice, try to implement some of these ideas to make your team happier and improve productivity. Making sure your employees feel their voices are heard and their opinions are valued can make a huge difference in their quality of life at your practice and can reflect your empathy.
Working in healthcare can be extremely overwhelming at times, especially when dealing with difficult patients. Unfortunately, these tough moments are a norm in the industry, which means it’s important to show your team they’re valued. There’s nothing worse than feeling underappreciated and overworked, so show your employees you care and are grateful for their hard work.
This can be as simple as shouting out outstanding team members or recognizing an MVP on your staff each week to show your gratitude. You can also do a nice gesture for everyone like bringing snacks into the practice, catering lunch one afternoon, or surprising your staff with small gifts. Tell your team how much they impact the success of your practice and try to remind them of how appreciated they are. Doing this will show your employees how much their work matters and how they fit into the bigger picture. Although small, these practices can help you earn respect and loyalty among your staff and help them feel valued under your leadership.
Implement Wellness Practices
Being a compassionate leader goes beyond the walls of your practice. This also means supporting your employees’ wellness outside of the workplace to help reduce burnout and boost resilience. Making sure your team has a healthy work/life balance is a great way to show that you truly care about them as people rather than just employees.
If you’re not sure where to start, think about how you can focus on the overall health and wellness of your staff. How can you improve their quality of life outside of work? Especially being in healthcare, you should provide mental health support and resources, and consider covering a few therapy sessions to ensure your team is successfully able to unwind and process the stress of their jobs. You can also pay for a gym membership or offer flexible schedules to encourage a better work/life balance.
Another helpful way to support your team’s overall wellbeing is to improve their financial literacy and wellness. With the increasing cost of tuition, housing and other expenses, it’s likely that your employees have student loans, a mortgage or other forms of debt. Financial stress can have a negative impact on your team’s lives and can add additional strain on top of their responsibilities at work, which may disrupt their focus, productivity and engagement.
If you don’t already, try to offer a 401(k) match or other retirement plan that your staff can enroll in to invest in their futures. You can also provide resources and pay for courses to educate your employees on the basics of personal finances such as ways to improve your credit score, how to use your home’s equity to pay off debt, or how to start investing in the stock market. Giving your team resources on how to better improve their lives outside of work shows your compassion and support as a leader and will give them more incentive to stay at your practice.
To become a more compassionate leader, it’s important to become in tune with your emotions so you can better connect with others. By reflecting on your own leadership and communication styles, you can become more self aware and recognize your strengths and weaknesses when interacting with your team.
When examining your leadership style, think about how you’ve dealt with past conversations and circumstances. Do you wish you handled a difficult situation differently? Reflect on these moments and think about how you normally interact with your team. What kind of language do you use? Are there ways you can take a more compassionate and empathetic approach?
For instance, when giving constructive criticism or discussing difficult conversations try to adjust your language and ask your staff how you can help and support them through these issues. Try to empathize with their situations and treat it more as a collective problem you can work through together rather than something your employees need to work on individually. Go beyond merely understanding their point of view and put yourself in their shoes. What would help you most if you were in their situation?
When reflecting on your own communication and leadership styles, also look at your practice and work culture as a whole. Do they promote open communication and compassion? If not, make sure your leadership style and the overall culture align. By first understanding your own behavior and tendencies, you can act as a better and more empathetic leader for your employees and make your practice a more compassionate work environment.
You might think that you can never show emotion or signs of distress as a leader, but being vulnerable with your team can actually help you seem more approachable and compassionate. Just as you want your staff to be open and honest with you, be the same way with them. Be open to receiving compassion from others and take care of yourself. Being authentic and candid about your own struggles can help you connect with your team and build trust.
Remember, needing help isn’t a sign of weakness and sharing your challenges might open up new opportunities for collaboration and support among your team. Your employees may even relate to your situation, which might make them more comfortable opening up and being honest with you in the future. Being a leader can be difficult, so lean on your staff for assistance and encouragement. Your team might even gain newfound respect for your vulnerability.
Looking for healthcare staffing? MASC Medical provides risk-free consultations to healthcare providers looking for work and clients looking to hire. To learn more about MASC Medical, its services and how we can help your practice, get in touch.