Use COVID-19 to get your life back

It’s time for some good news and hope about life during and after COVID-19.

You may be frantically racing from room to room in your house, and from role to role to keep everything together during this unprecedented time.

You’re a doctor, parent, teacher, partner, chef, housekeeper, and business owner, to name just a few.

Meanwhile, you know that your staff is relaxing at home, catching up on Netflix series, baking cookies, and keeping their fingers crossed that they’ll have a paycheck or knowing that you’ve set them up nicely for unemployment benefits.

At the same time, you may feel guilty and discouraged that you still don’t have time or energy to connect with your family and friends, even though you’re all stuck at home.

And you want to be making cookies or gardening or catching up on your own Netflix shows. Even cleaning the garage sounds productive and rewarding at this point.

Doesn’t seem right, does it? Let’s change that!

Here’s the secret. Your staff would much rather be working hard too. They are scared and anxious and have energy to burn. They want to be needed and to be challenged with meaningful work. You are overwhelmed with many things that you’re not even good at that are keeping you from taking care of your patients.

The secret strategy is simple. Ask them!

How can your practice run more smoothly? What improvements in customer service are right at your fingertips? How can you fill your schedule more completely with profitable visits that benefit your patients? Who is underutilized? What do they want to learn, and how do they want to grow?

Use this time when you’ve got the office closed, or with limited hours, to talk frankly with your team. Challenge them to speak up and to think about how they would like their days to be different. Most likely, they don’t want to work less hard, but they want to have more meaningful work.

I spoke with Jennifer earlier this week. We brainstormed, and she came up with four things in about 15 minutes that had fallen to the bottom of her long to-do list that she knew her staff could accomplish this week while they had reduced office hours. All things that benefited patients and the practice, and could easily be taken off Jennifer’s list. The staff could do them better!

Jennifer estimated that one of the projects to streamline workflow, including telemedicine visits, would save her 30 minutes a day. The vision she had for marketing and social media would increase their patients by 15% in the first month. All with resources that she was already paying or could bring back on a part-time basis – an immediate return on investment far superior to anything she’ll see in the stock market for a long time.

Once she started the conversation with her staff, the sparks began to fly. They had even more suggestions and ideas. Jennifer smiled, put her hands in her pockets, and closed the Zoom call with a smile on her face.

Now is the time to make some amazing changes to how you lead your team. They want to be more involved, just ask them!

Making this change in perspective is simple but not easy. Don’t be shy about asking for help.

Changing how you lead your practice will make all the difference in the world. You’ll love going to work again. Now is the perfect time to begin your new normal working hard and playing hard.

Karyn P. Grant is president, Karyn P. Grant Consulting.

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