I’m referring to 5 Days and 4 Nights that were spent in the hospital, while my mother underwent neurosurgery for an extreme case of Trigeminal Neuralgia. She’s doing fine now, but the tabs were not helping her stay active. She needed to rest for at least 15 hours a day! Anyway, my stay at the hospital (as her caretaker/attendee) was filled with loads of tension, anxiety and extremely high levels of hyper-tension, while she was undergoing surgery. I read an entire book in about 4-5hours (can't even remember the name right now) and a ton of help from my wife kept me from going into a hysterical black-hole.
So, I did eventually manage to keep calm and in fact had a lot of lessons to learn from the hospital staff. They were efficiency in motion!
Lesson #1: Keep your cool!
The doctors, nurses and every single paramedic in the Operation Theatre, ICU and wards displayed calmness during the entire surgery. I did get to see the video of the surgery, to re-assure and also to keep me informed about the procedure. They had to keep their cool. And hold their nerve with tons of patience. After all, the patient’s life was in their hands. Literally!
Anxiety kills half your brain-cells, or atleast it dulls the senses enough to not think clearly. I’m sure your role as HR could involve hiring, firing, conducting appraisals, employee relations, HR ops and loads more. Phew! This makes you feel swamped with work! Just imagine, if your next move involved saving a person’s life and you froze.
Here’s what I learnt – take on one issue at a time. Multi-tasking is great, but even that needs a priority list to be prepared before you get into the task. A cool head is what helps you get that list straight and with enough room for flexibility. For example, retention of employees should be a higher priority than planning a replacement for them. Unless they are let-go for either integrity issues or poor performance. It’s a no-brainer, right?
Lesson #2: Timely Communication is MANDATORY!
At the hospital, I’d spent a considerable amount of time outside the Operation Theatre and ICU waiting for the doctor to come and update me on the medical situation. The waiting time was filled with anticipation and nervousness. Thankfully, he did come with an update on time.
I suppose it’s the same at your workplace too. Right? Honestly, there will be queries around Performance Appraisal, Employee Referral, Company Policies and Practices, Salary Structure, Employee Benefits and more (see you are swamped with work!) Hold on! Don’t panic. Either you DO know the answers to all the queries (not likely) or you DON’T know. If you do know, then you’ll answer (hopefully on time) to the query. If you know the answer and are still NOT responding to the query on time, time to re-look at your style of working.
The trouble actually starts when you don’t know the answer. You get a query from an employee via mail/call/in-person, for which you don’t know the answer. What to do next? Unable to think through it, you sit on the query for many days without doing anything about it. Meanwhile, the employee who had to fill the appraisal waited and sent an incomplete one which is going to impact the review. It’s an extreme case, but nonetheless, it did happen. If you DON’T know the answer, let the person know. Ask for time to get back (be practical in taking time) and then come back to ask your manager or other team members, but get that query answered – ON TIME. More importantly, it's perfectly okay to ask for help.
Lesson #3: Think and Act
More often than not, we do have a tendency to “jump-the-gun” while solving problems! It’s good, after all having a bias-for-action is appreciated. However, a little discretion never hurts, while deciding the course of action. THINK & ACT! Is it easier said than done? You bet!
Fire-fighting is a tough skill. Combine that with some strategic thinking and you’ll get yourself a killer-combo!
The best lessons are learnt in the most unlikeliest of places. Mine just happened to be in a hospital…