Hybrid Teams Top Healthcare Managers’ List of Project Execution Headaches

May 17, 2023
2 Minute Read

The last few years of the pandemic have proven challenging for numerous industries, but none more so than healthcare. Managers have had to grapple with supply disruptions, policy changes, hybrid work models, technology insufficiencies, and budget constraints as well as rising costs and staffing shortages. This has made it problematic for organizations — and their managers — to complete their mission-critical projects.

Since 2020, three out of four healthcare executives have reported that they are managing hybrid teams that are working both in-person and at-home and coordinating consultants and contractors from multiple outside companies. This has made it increasingly difficult to get important projects completed, according to our latest research, The Systemic Impact of Healthcare Staffing Shortages on Mission-Critical Projects. In fact, 25% of survey respondents said less than half of mission-critical projects met key goals.  These hybrid arrangements have also placed greater stress on managers, who find themselves wrangling numerous employees with varying locations and schedules.

Adopting Better Ways to Manage the ‘People Part’ of Project Execution

Additionally, 31% of executives said their organizations need to improve their ability to identify and resolve team conflicts before they become problems. They want better approaches for managing team members with strong and highly valuable skills and for team members who resent going back to offices.

“Rather than relying on direct supervision, which is a relic of the past, managers must emphasize developing a plan with clear expectations for their employees,” says Sachin Dev, Vice President, RGP Healthcare. “Effective employee communication is a foundational step that requires flexible interaction options, engaging employees with digital experiences, and robust, real-time analytical insights on productivity and project milestones.”

Surveyed executives also reported that project management and execution are challenging, with 68% reporting that projects had unrealistic goals from the outset, while 63% reported difficulty in completing projects because of abrupt changes in project goals. And 61% acknowledged their companies have poor tools for project collaboration.

Many of the executives surveyed also cited the lack of top management support and capable talent in other key project roles as a big reason projects are difficult to get underway and more challenging to complete.

“A hybrid workforce and project execution should be a win-win situation at all levels of the organization. It is not uncommon for many organizations to expect a different standard in managing their employees at a managerial level, as compared to other higher levels in the organizational hierarchy,” Sachin says. “To succeed in the hybrid work environment, organizations must send a strong top-down signal of their commitment by providing the right training and support to their managers — helping them gain more self-efficacy, autonomy and trust, and enabling them to be more productive and less stressed by this paradigm shift.”

Adaptive Strategies, Fusion Teams and Flexible Staffing Models

The heart of the challenge? Projects often lack a capable project leader in charge of executing the project, executives acknowledged. Without such guidance and leadership, many of their mission-critical projects failed. These figures suggest that the healthcare industry’s chronic staffing shortages, whether through retirements or resignations, have had a continuing impact on getting important projects over the finish line.

“Employers must embrace adaptive strategies, multi-disciplinary fusion teams, and flexible staffing models to execute their mission-critical projects to achieve their desired competitiveness and growth rate,” Sachin concludes. “Don’t discount the impact of your employees’ work environment in the broader scheme of things.”

The research findings are based on RGP’s fall 2022 survey of 404 large companies with $1 billion or more in revenue, including 101 healthcare executives throughout North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

Read our full report to explore more details, including recommendations for overcoming project execution challenges.


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