IT Leadership: The Human Side of Disruption

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By Stephanie Murray | Nov 8, 2021

3 minute read Technology| Blog

Disruption. We’ve all heard the term. It’s been applied broadly and specifically, but regardless of the breadth or source, disruption has a significant (although oftentimes unacknowledged) effect on healthcare, our workplaces, and our daily lives.

Disruption has changed how we work
The Info-Tech Research Group conducted an online survey in late 2020 as part of its research process for the 2021 Tech Trends Report and posed the question: How much do you expect your organization to change permanently compared to how it was operating before the pandemic? Of the 162 respondents, 47% said they “expect a lot of change in their organizations in a post-COVID-19 world.” Close to 10% responded they foresee “transformative change, with a fundamental shift in their business requiring new ways of working.” This especially rings true in healthcare IT and the report goes on to outline IT trends that will help organizations respond to future change and disruption.

Humans make change happen in healthcare IT
Making new IT capabilities a reality will require technical prowess and infrastructure; however, it will also demand genuine human interaction within teams, organizations, and partners. So often we dive into the purely technical aspects of leading through change and neglect the importance of considering the interpersonal dynamics of teams or patient care itself.

With change and disruption becoming part of how we work and live, how do we remain genuine? How do we mitigate its impact on our work, interactions, and relationships (both personal and professional)? How do we remain compassionate toward others when we ourselves are also affected by disruption?


Ways to help bring focus during disruption
Interactions with family, friends, peers, and direct reports are all affected by the constant disruptions we face from a variety of sources. Disruption ranges from broad “industry disruption” as we have witnessed during the pandemic, to small disruptions of our regular routine caused by one-time events, such as an unexpected flat tire. While some disruptions seem minor, when combined they can begin to affect the way people view situations and interact with those around them. The ability to remain genuine in your interactions with others can oftentimes cut through those disruptions and bring people back to the task at hand, allowing them to remain focused instead of distracted by the multitude of disruptions they might be facing that day.

When faced with an interaction or scenario where someone is clearly being affected by outside disruptions or distractions, it is important to remember several key approaches to bringing that individual or group back into focus:

1. Remain empathetic
While you may not always be privy to what another individual or group is going through, it is important to remain empathetic to others’ situations. You may not know that just that morning the person received a phone call with bad news, or that they’ve been struggling with a physical ailment for the last three months, or that their last business meeting didn’t go as well as expected. Because we don’t have direct insight into what lens someone may be looking through, it is important to remain compassionate to others and offer them that safe space to work through the distractions and disruptions they may be facing. Compassion is at the root of staying genuine.

2. Be honest
There will be times when someone facing disruptions may not handle that disruption well and may need feedback on their approach. Whether working with a vendor or collaborating with a project team, cultivating a space where feedback can be given in an open and honest manner with room to allow the recipient to respond and give their point of view will create opportunities for both parties to be genuine – and ultimately more effective. Give the recipient respect and leeway to reflect on their situation and the way they are navigating it. Be sure your feedback is clear and concise. Remember that they are facing other disruptions, so you will need to cut through those distractions by clearly articulating any issues and working through potential resolutions. Formulate your feedback in smaller, more digestible pieces of information in order to allow the recipient a better chance of processing them. Allow them the opportunity to evaluate whether anything can be done differently and how you can help them reach that goal.

3. Acknowledge your own limitations
While we may be doing our best to stay genuine for others in the face of their disruptions, remember that you have your own disruptions that filter your lens as well. Remember to take a step back and evaluate your own perceptions and distractions and how they may be affecting your interactions with others. Acknowledge when you might need to take a break or time for yourself to regroup, recoup, and reenergize. It is difficult to remain genuine with others if you are not first genuine with yourself.

Whether you lead a team or are a part of one, remaining genuine in the face of disruption creates an opportunity for others to break down some of the barriers they may be facing, as well as offers room for compassion and collaboration to take hold.

About the Author:
Stephanie Murray

Consulting Architect, Epic Services, CereCore

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