The past year was an extraordinary one and gave us plenty of food for thought, whether personally or professionally. At RQM+, we have been thinking about the leadership lessons we learned – RQM+ Executive VP, Lisa Casavant, recently wrote about how we managed to hold on to our employees, and RQM+ President, Maria Fagan, reflected on how the business continued to grow throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Neither of these things could have been achieved without strong communication. Our leadership team demonstrated its commitment to survival, strength, and success by meeting daily at 8 a.m. to review and manage the business during the pandemic. This might seem excessive, but we found there were important issues to address especially as we were also managing a merger at the same time!
Consistent communication to our employees with an approach of full transparency was accomplished by a weekly email from Maria to everyone in the company, providing an update on the business as well as other monthly and quarterly communication. Successes, progress, challenges, and problems were communicated from the perspective of four prongs: team-member wellbeing, revenue generation, expense reduction, and company improvement projects (leveraging available resources to enhance our service offerings).
Subsequently, the RQM+ team was able to understand what was happening and how they could personally contribute. The goal was to provide a transparent view of the challenges and constant reminder of our determination to keep all their jobs safe. Although we worked hard to maintain clear and consistent communication, we did learn that also sharing positive news and optimism was something that should be completed regularly.
We were reminded throughout the experience that communication is only valuable if it is a two-way street. As much as we were informing our team members, we really wanted and needed to hear from them. There is no easy formula for success when facing a crisis like this one because everyone has unique anxieties and different levels of stress.
We worked hard to listen with the intent to understand their needs and support them during these unusual times. They had different stress triggers and life events either not witnessed before or enhanced due to the pandemic and merger, such as caring for elderly parents, young children schooling from home, and the need for more flexibility. We were thrilled that our team members felt comfortable telling us what they needed and that we could support them. Our culture encourages our team members to share their ideas, without fear of repercussion, and that an open line of communication is always available during this critical time.
In parallel to our focus on team members, we remain steadfast in our communication with clients. We have developed strong trust with our clients, and in many cases, we were asked to sit in on their internal ‘war cabinet’ committees to assist in their strategic planning. I cannot overstate how valuable the insights we have given the level of partnerships we have without clients. RQM+ was in a position to optimize our advice, and to help guide the business in the most timely and sensitive way possible.
In the case of client organizations that were exposed to any slowdown in elective procedures, this insight was – and remains – doubly valuable. We work hard to achieve strong partnerships with every client, and we are very grateful for those relationships as we managed through the pandemic.
The COVID crisis has also made us realize the value of strategic planning. We had built a remote servicing model years ago due to what we saw as a gradual but strong practice that both our clients and team members felt was valuable. Once the COVID restrictions were implemented last year, we realized how prophetic that remote capability was, and just how much we were going to rely on it in the coming months. It would be pleasing to think that we had seen ahead as if through a crystal ball. We benefitted from the sensible, forward-thinking policies implemented, which have suddenly become much more crucial than we could ever have imagined.
Our commitment to relationships with team members and clients also allowed us to execute a successful integration of R&Q with Maetrics and create RQM+ in the middle of the pandemic. That success was realized even though our leadership teams only met in person once in 12 months!
In short, we are stronger today as RQM+. The reality is that strength came from some of our active policies and quick reactions, some from our overall determination to succeed, some from policies and protocols we had been putting in place for some time and, most importantly, much of it came from the hard work and dedication of our incredible employees!