By Lindsay Scanlon
In interviews, I’m often asked about my favorite project. After returning from my first maternity leave, I conducted a four-month organizational assessment, spearheaded by a strong leader I bounced ideas off daily. The project had the full backing of the organization’s senior most leader, who has since spoken about the project as her “legacy” both to a crowd of her peers and on the organization’s onboarding video, and now serves as a member of Presidential Biden’s cabinet. We produced a data-driven evaluation report that was referenced in a Senate budget hearing, and ultimately led the organization to obtain additional staff. Both leaders departed soon after and most of the recommendations were never implemented.
COVID has been a year of reflection for many, including myself. When else have we had an opportunity to hit the “pause” button? If I had the opportunity to go back in time, I’d offer them the following advice:
Categorize recommendations into themes to focus attention and avoid overwhelming people, particularly when facing more than ten recommendations.
Identify and implement quick wins to build and sustain momentum for change.
Develop an implementation roadmap based on priority, level of effort, and dependencies so stakeholders know when and how they will be affected—what’s in it for me (WIIFM?)
Embed learning into standard operating procedures, tools, and templates, to make it easy and convenient for employees to adjust to change.
Use storytelling to highlight the need for change, drive home findings, share early successes, and move people in a way facts and figures alone don’t.
Designate emerging leaders as champions to build support for change and offer them an opportunity for professional development, at minimal cost to an organization.
Hire outside help if colleagues are exhibiting a lack of energy, mental distance from their job, and reduced professional efficacy; burnout isn’t unique to clinicians during COVID-19. Experienced external partners can deliver faster results.