At the end of August, Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana. It made landfall as a Category 4 before passing 20 miles from our Corporate Office as a Category 2. From there, it headed north and east, causing additional damage and loss of life in nine states.
The highest sustained winds in Louisiana were 150 mph. In our area there was extensive damage to infrastructure and homes, with all residents going without power for days. Many local residents and some employees still don’t have power, over a week later. Some had no water for days. These are tough conditions in a heat index of over 100 degrees.
I am very proud of how our team responded in these very tough conditions. They knew that the clinics we serve couldn’t wait a week for their billing and marketing to resume. In order to get back to work as fast as possible, they went above and beyond: organizing generators, working in miserably hot conditions by lamplight and with irritatingly intermittent internet, ignoring needs of house and family in order to serve our clients.
The hurricane passed by in the wee hours of Monday morning. By Tuesday morning, some of the team
was back to work on client accounts. By Wednesday at 7:30 am, most of the team was back. By Wednesday evening, they were all caught up on all billing client accounts. What a feat!
There are probably countless lessons that we can learn from any natural disaster. I want to share with you three lessons that I think you can put into play in your clinic today.
Disclaimer: these are lessons for me, too. I know that I need to do more in each one.
- Know your “bedrock staff” and do everything you can for them.
During the hurricane, our key people went above and beyond to get the job done. They put the clients first, even when their own homes were in disarray.
“Bedrock staff” are the ones you can rely on when challenges come. They are loyal, appreciative and put the patient / client first, often ahead of their own needs. When challenges come to your business, you will find that the bedrock staff are the same ones that you leaned on heavily in the good times.
It is important that before challenges come, you treat these people extremely well, better than you treat the rest of the team. That should mean financially as well as verbally (telling them how grateful you are for them) and frequently doing small things for them (eg: buying them lunch, remembering their birthday, treating them specially).
When the challenge arrives, make sure they know how much you need them, thank them during the challenge, and reward them afterward.
Your bedrock staff are the ones who keep your business humming along. Never fail to do what you can to keep them happy, growing and moving forward.
- Invest in your other relationships.
During the storm, friends went out of their way for each other. One friend lent our family a spare generator. Another lent us a window A/C unit. These two items were invaluable. They allowed us to keep some food cool in our refrigerator and to sleep in comfort in one room. What a difference this made!
One of my weaknesses is that I may focus too much on work. I place a high value on growth and often that takes my attention away from friendships. Thankfully my wife and I had invested enough time with these two friends for the relationship to be solid.
When challenges come, you will probably want support from people that are outside of your work team or family. That will only come if, before the challenge, you spend time with people. Really enjoy who they are and intentionally build these relationships. I am not saying you should do this just so that you get the help when you need it. Successful society and bountiful lives are built on non-transactional relationships. So allow yourself the luxury of making friends and enjoying them.
Everyone needs to find their own balance here. Before the storm, some people bought up gallons and gallons of gas for their generator, along with whole kitchens full of canned food. As long as no trees fell on their house, they probably had little to worry about. Others didn’t prepare at all and had a very stressful existence for the week after the storm, sitting in line for hours for gas and relying on volunteer groups for fresh water.
I was somewhere in the middle. However, when the next storm threatens, I will make sure I have my own generator, my own window A/C unit, and plenty of gas.
It is worth taking some time to think about what storms may come your way at work. What if some unlikely possibilities actually occur? Examples are: Medicare audits, key staff people leaving, relocating or becoming unable to work, referral sources drying up, lawsuits, actual natural disasters, surprises in your own health and ability to work, divorce, surprises from a landlord.
These may seem uncommon, but most happen everyday to someone in our industry.
Make sure that you have a plan and are prepared for at least these possibilities.
If you would like to talk about how you can prepare your business to withstand the storms our industry faces, please reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maybe you are going through a storm right now at work. I would like to offer you a listening ear and my honest advice. Feel free to reach out.