Our world is beset with problems or conundrums that seem to be impossible puzzles to solve. Pull one string and another part unravels. Push one block and out pops another. In public healthcare, we have been given the puzzle of providing world class care to a growing number of people, within a capped budget, in accordance with standards and regulations, with the people we have who must comply with the rigid requirements of nurse:patient ratios.
A colleague of mine who works in the private sector made the incisive observation that it must be like asking them to do surgery with one arm tied behind their back. I couldn’t agree more. And I would add that the degree of difficulty has recently increased with the increase in scrutiny and reporting required by government.
So it is like they have to manage the whole thing with their arm tied behind their back, walking along a tight rope over a swamp with alligators snapping up at them. Oh, that is why many are feeling stressed, defeated and burned out. They do not believe they can make any difference! This state is inherently demotivating and can lead to feelings of insecurity and fear. Under stress like this, we tend to go limbic (fear, fight and flight) – our pre-frontal cortex switches off so that we are unable to think creatively, rationally or strategically. So, these people are managing with their arm tied behind their back, over a tight rope with alligators snapping at their toes, and have a blind fold.
To persist and succeed in this environment, these managers must have a compelling reason – the patient; and a unshakable belief that they do make a difference to the patient experience. They also need the tools to get them across – a combination of high level clinical and business skills. But what is becoming increasingly obvious to me is that healthcare managers have no have ingenuity and the ability to find innovative solutions to wicked problems.
Would you not agree that any manager worth their salt in this environment could be worth triple in any other sector?