What to do when the learning curve becomes even steeper

During my tenure on the board of the Boston chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, I had the good fortune of meeting and staying in touch with Jodi Freedman. Jodi was a communication leader at the Bose Corporation for many years and recently accepted a position in an entirely different sector (healthcare) and during Freedmanan extraordinary time (the Covid-19 pandemic).

She posted the following article on LinkedIn, and her reflections deeply resonated with me — facing the challenges of learning about a new organization and sector, compounded by those unleashed by a profound crisis.

I’d like to share Jodi’s reflections with you:

“Six months ago today, I started a new job in healthcare communication, and immediately realized that I had underestimated how hard it would be to get acclimated. I asked a lot of questions, took a lot of notes, and spent a fair amount of time riding the shuttle bus from my office to the hospital so that I could meet critical partners in person. Still, it was a struggle to understand the operations, culture and politics of a large, complex institution.

Then, COVID-19 arrived, and I realized that the first three months were really just a warm-up for a different kind of hard. As the institution prepared for a surge of patients in an atmosphere of constrained PPE, our internal communications team was there to support our incident command’s communication needs. We set aside all of our non-COVID communications work and pivoted to a new set of practices to ensure that our staff understood what was happening and what they needed to do — while also ensuring that they had a voice and the opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed. It was messy at first, and nothing’s perfect, but I’m proud of the work my team did, and of their dedication and flexibility at this difficult time.

Countless communication plans, daily newsletters, virtual forums, FAQs, flyers, floor decals and posters later, we are thankfully in a position to begin to plan for recovery and reimagining. I’m grateful for that, but also grateful in an odd way for the experience of the last few months. I have learned a lot in an accelerated time window. I’m impressed at the way my institution has managed this crisis, and I’m a huge fan of my team and colleagues. I have a much sharper understanding of how different healthcare is from my prior work experiences, and a better feel for those healthcare workers who are putting their lives on the line for the rest of us. Sure, I worked some crazy hours over the last few months, but it pales in comparison to what others have been doing.

As I look ahead to the next six months, I know that sick patients will still need care; healthcare workers will still provide it; and hospitals will be reckoning with tremendous financial pressures. My team will be sharing heartwarming stories of healthcare heroes and grateful patients, while also communicating about the steps we’ll take to unwind from the pandemic and run the hospital differently in the future.

The path ahead will still be hard. But thankfully, a different kind of hard.”

Posted by Carl Zangerl, Faculty

 

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