Human resources management, people management is closely linked to leadership and the leadership style we want to develop in the organization and in the different work teams. How to manage people is fundamental at all times, but even more so if we have to refer to managing people in times of crisis such as the one we are currently going through.
Preparing a health care organisation for a situation of crisis requires not only short-term situational planning, but also long-term planning, i.e., nursing management and its people management department must be prepared for different scenarios, which are convulsive, calm, seasonal changes, peaks in activity, staff exhaustion in different units, reduced quality of care, variations in the work climate, leadership deficits, etc. Each of these situations and others, since the ones we have mentioned have been illustrative without claiming to be exhaustive, requires a flexible and adaptable plan of action and management of people.
Whatever the plan is, it will be necessary to have an individualized consideration of the person. People, each one of the nurses is unique, with their own personal (in the first place) and professional motivations and concerns. The organisation, its formal leaders must be aware of these characteristics of the person, and if necessary, manage them individually, aligning the interests of the organisation with the interests of the individual. In other words, during this time nurses have undergone shift changes without prior notice. It is true that the law and the state of alarm to some extent covers this situation. However, those who manage people on a more operational level (at the organizational level) can always do more, for example, by calling or interviewing the different nurses on the unit to find out their availability, their personal situation and how the state of alarm affects this situation, in order to agree on the shift change. What is unacceptable is that the shift changes have been communicated via WhatsApp or with the classic… «if you don’t mind, tell XX that he has to come tomorrow night, please», or «this weekend you have to work and on Monday you can join your service so that you are happy». These and other more serious situations have occurred during this time.
The management of people in this state of alarm, as in other areas, has shown our weaknesses as a society (telecommunications, care of the elderly, dependents, schools, etc.). The bad management of people has been evidenced by the strange «idle resources». We want to emphasize the term «idle resources», because it is far from the management of people and what we want to illustrate is this difference. We have found ourselves in the strange situation of people who have spent the whole crisis in «rest» mode, while other people have been at the forefront of the crisis in the ucis, in the operating theatres, resuscitation rooms and various services converted into areas of assistance to extremely serious patients, where they have worked to the point of exhaustion. And this is literal, and if we do not resort to the exhaustion and reactive anxiety leave that has been occurring in recent weeks. This, as we say, only highlights the lack of planning and the lack of decision-making capacity under pressure.
It does not seem complicated to understand that knowing the people, the workloads and the connotations of the situation we are going through, the distribution of the burden among all the people that make up the organization, will keep them in a better physical and emotional disposition.
Planning the management of people involves getting to know them, defining the jobs in a real way and not just on paper, adapting people to their competence profile, promoting their professional development, establishing nursing processes that reduce variability. In this way, when a moment of crisis arrives, such as that of Covid19 or any other that may occur, the organisation will be prepared to respond and this will be the case, because people will be ready for it.