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Communicating Leadership Changes in Healthcare Organizations

WE Communications Blog: Health

9/5/2018
— Health Sector Team 

Communicating Leadership Changes in Healthcare Organizations: Transparency is Key

Boston is home to some of the world’s most renowned healthcare institutions. Patients travel from all over the world seeking treatment, from pediatrics, oncology, orthopedics, and others, at Boston-area hospitals.

Recently, three Boston hospitals made leadership announcements: Tufts Medical Center announced a new CEO and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital and the New England Baptist Hospital announced new presidents. Press releases announcing the new appointments were followed by stories in The Boston Globe and The Boston Business Journal. From an external perspective, the announcements were executed flawlessly with impressive media coverage, but communicating change doesn’t end with external announcements. Changes in leadership often create feelings of uncertainty in organizations, and incoming CEOs must understand the culture and all the stakeholders to effectively communicate their visions and policies for their organizations.

WE spoke with Caitlin Fisher, director of Leadership Initiatives, of the Boston Chamber of Commerce about the importance of leadership and communications during times of organizational change. According to Fisher, “Changes in leadership can create a lot of anxiety within an organization. As the Boston healthcare landscape evolves new leaders can help ensure smooth transitions by listening, learning and truly understanding the organizations they are tasked with leading.”

Below are some tips to ensure a smooth leadership transition. 

  • Listen and listen some more – New leaders shouldn’t just rely on the management team to provide them with insights on the organization and culture. They must engage people at every level of the organization and listen to their concerns, successes and challenges to develop communications and business strategies that will move an organization forward. 
  • Learn the Landscape – Even a leader who has been promoted from within should take time to do a deep dive of the organization. Understanding all aspects of the organization will provide greater insights that inform business and communications strategies. 
  • Identify the Influencers – Determine who the internal influencers are at every level of the organization. Embrace the people who are the most respected by their peers and who can internally communicate the benefits of change.
  • Be Patient – Resist making any dramatic or sweeping changes the first few months. Allow time to get acclimated to a new role and learn what works well, where processes can be improved, and where they need to be completely revamped. 
  • Be Visible – New leaders should be visible within an organization. Whether it’s grabbing a cup of coffee in a communal area or holding regular towns halls, visibility helps build trust. 
  • Communicate Regularly – Regular communication with both internal and external audiences allows leadership to set the tone and the narrative for all stakeholders. Keeping everyone well informed helps build a reservoir of goodwill and contributes to a successful transition. 
  • Provide Opportunities for Bidirectional Feedback – Communication from the leadership team is critical during times of transition, but it is also important that all stakeholders have an opportunity to share their thoughts. This can be done through surveys, 1:1 conversations, designated e-mails or suggestion boxes.

 

To learn more about WE Communications internal communications offerings, please reach out to Boston General Manager Stephanie Worrell.