Clarity… PLEASE!!!

It has been a whirlwind since our Leadership Summit on November 13.  Over the next few days, four of our staff members tested positive for COVID-19.  The decision to close the clinic was made at our Wednesday morning staff meeting, and the entire clinic was quite literally scrubbed from top to bottom by an EPA-approved company using EPA- approved products.  We decided to continue paying the staff while they were off.  

I had not intended to do any of this when I walked into our weekly stand up meeting on Wednesday morning.  Walking in, I could feel the amount of tension, fear and anxiety among the team members.  No matter what I said at that particular morning’s meeting, it would have fallen on deaf ears.  I  appreciated Doctor Susanne’s wisdom in encouraging me to just listen to the team.  So, that is exactly what I did. 

As I listened to their fears and concerns, they began to feel safe – and started offering great suggestions: Professional cleaning of the clinic, N95 masks, close the clinic until Monday to give time for everyone to get tested, adding two additional exits, initiating telehealth services.  As suggestions were made, we were all in agreement.

I knew I had to consider all of their suggestions and make an immediate decision.  So I did….

We will close the clinic effective immediately and stay closed until Monday. We will get the office professionally cleaned. We will strengthen our safety protocols and come back strong on Monday. Staff will be compensated while the clinic is closed. Immediately, the team expressed relief and affirmed my decision.  

This was a big step for me as a leader.  This is the first time I had made such a big decision without analyzing, considering and thinking about it.  I made decisions based on feedback from the team – and my gut. I had to suspend scarcity thinking in the moment:  How much will it cost me? We don’t have the money. What if this is the wrong decision?  

Immediately following the meeting, I began to second-guess myself – the quote for the cleaning was $2,600.  I pushed those thoughts and feelings aside and considered the fact that I needed to build trust, integrity, and confidence in this moment of crisis – because these things are priceless.   

I began to understand that the team longs for clarity more than anything!!!!    They want clarity even if they don’t agree completely. (By the way, most of the time they will not agree 100%, 75% or even 50%.)  But if they see the intent is pure and the trajectory is consistent with our mission and values, they will most often align with any decision made.  

I have had to step into abundance thinking every week, every day, every hour and every minute.  I know with 100% certainty the actions I took last Wednesday were the absolute right call.  Yes, cash flow will be down and I predict it will take us about 6 to 8 weeks to get back on track.  We will retain our awesome team, and they will continue to give their all each and every day.  That is far more valuable than losing trust as a leader, or having to spend some unexpected money and suffer a temporary loss in business.  

4 Essential ingredients to Clear Decision-Making and Communication:

  1. Listen: and be aware
    • What is your team telling you?
    • Are they excited, fearful, skeptical?
    • Let them express themselves  
  2. Impact:  How will the decision impact your team a year from now?
    • Will you regret your decision?
    • Will it create confidence with your team?
  3. Trust: Does the decision build Trust?
    • This is always your number one goal
    • This does not mean 100% agreement
    • The goal is alignment
  4. Clarity: Be Clear and confident
    • Don’t be wishy-washy
    • This is what we are going to do……
    • Be in a mindset of abundance
    • Don’t second-guess yourself and follow through

Your team will be so grateful as you start communicating with increased clarity and confidence.  There is nothing more energizing and empowering to your team than a clear, confident leader!!!


Grateful to be on this journey with you,

Dr. Matthew Harkness

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