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Frontline Workers: Four Transferable Skills Every Manager Should Know About

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The current pandemic has placed enormous strain on our healthcare workers. NHS staff throughout the UK are working tirelessly to accommodate the rising number of coronavirus patients, with many being redeployed in order to assist in the fight against COVID-19. As the backbone of our society, healthcare workers are tasked with nursing our population back to good health. However, their expertise does not stop here.

According data gathered by Hogan Assessments – the global leader in providing research-based personality consulting – healthcare workers score highly on a number of personality scales useful in other roles, including leadership. Hogan’s science-based assessments, such as the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) and the Hogan Development Survey (HDS), have identified four transferable skills in healthcare workers that companies should look out for.

Agile and adaptable

The sudden onset of COVID-19 has led to dramatic changes in the way healthcare staff work. Shifts have become longer and more laborious, staff have been redeployed and day-to-day activities have been transformed to assist with coronavirus efforts.

Nurses often balance many important tasks at once, from communicating with patients to administering medication.

Healthcare workers are extremely agile and can spring into action when faced with adversity. They score highly on HPI Adjustment, which measures an individual’s stress-tolerance, optimism and composure in the face of change. CNAs (certified nursing assistants), nursing aides, and other healthcare workers are confident in their abilities and have a ‘can-do’ attitude when faced with change. These workers remain calm and level-headed during crises, and motivate their team to keep working, reduce panic and adapt to the new changes around them. Additionally, they can handle heavy and complex workloads, making them skilled multitaskers and dynamic workers. 

Nurses’ flexibility and ability to respond quickly to change is a skill all managers would benefit greatly from. As a crisis is always uninvited and unexpected, adopting a ‘can-do’ attitude and remaining composed and focussed is crucial when leading a team through adverse times. By remaining agile and tackling a crisis head on, business leaders can ensure the crisis never gets out of hand.

Compassionate communicators

Hospitals are fast-paced working environments. Healthcare professionals are constantly working with their team members and patients in order to understand their condition and provide the best possible treatment in a timely fashion. This requires impeccable communication skills.

Nurses, nursing aides, and other healthcare workers score highly on HPI Interpersonal Sensitivity. This measures tact, communication style & relationship-maintenance skill. As the first point of contact for patients in hospital, healthcare workers are experts in dealing with people in a friendly and sensitive way.

When working as part of a medical team, they are thoughtful and cooperative, and not easily swayed by people’s emotions or personal concerns. Healthcare workers also score highly on HDS Altruistic, which measures an individual’s desire to help other people.

Nurses’ ability to build relationships of trust, respect and honesty with patients, as well as their desire to help others, can be applied to many other roles, including leadership. As a manager, communicating effectively with employees is crucial, especially in times of crisis. Being a warm, diplomatic and approachable source of support for others is key to effective leadership, and something organisations should keep in mind when on-boarding new talent. 

Organisational skills 

Attention to detail is vital in healthcare. When dealing with society’s most vulnerable people, there is little room for error. In the demanding hospital environment, Nurses and other healthcare workers are tasked with treating many patients at once. Healthcare professionals must have strong organisational skills and exercise great precision when documenting patient data, administering medication and carrying out other critical tasks. 

Prudence measures detail-orientation, organisational skills and dependability. CNAs, Nurses and other healthcare workers score highly on this scale, meaning they are strict when it comes to details and rules, reliable and process-focused. These workers can manage their time effectively and prioritise accordingly when dealing with multiple people at once. 

While organisational skills are crucial in healthcare, they can also be applied to many other organisational contexts and roles, including leadership. Being detail-focussed and organised has clear benefits when working in people-management roles. Leaders who are planful, organised and responsible, with high standards for their own work and the performance of others, are found to be highly effective at managing large teams. 

Problem solvers

When working in healthcare, each day is different, and the way in which work is carried out is constantly evolving. When dealing with individual cases, there is no ‘one size fits all’ model, with different health outcomes for different people. There are also new and improved ways of treating patients being developed every single day. Healthcare workers are avid problem solvers and are always keen to build upon their knowledge and learn about new ways of approaching tasks.

Nurses, Nursing Assistants and other healthcare professionals score highly on HPI Inquisitive and Learning Approach. Inquisitive measures an individual’s idea-orientation and openness to new ideas. Learning Approach measures an individual’s propensity to seek new information and stay up to date on trends. These workers are resourceful problem solvers and are proactive in learning and applying new knowledge on the job.

By consistently monitoring patient outcomes and staying up-to-date on new training and medical trends, they build an impressive inventory of knowledge, and are able to solve problems and carry out daily activities more efficiently.

Being inquisitive and open to new ideas is a valuable trait to have outside of the healthcare profession too and can be a major asset for contemporary business leaders. By leveraging new tools and technology, and being open to growth and development, leaders can unlock great potential when managing their teams. 

‘Crises are everyday realities for our frontline health workers, and our research finds that these individuals score highly on many personality scales commonly associated with effective leadership,’ adds Dr Ryne Sherman, Chief Science Officer at Hogan Assessments. ‘What healthcare professionals have in common is their ability to adapt quickly to change and communicate clearly during times of crises; both of which are crucial when leading an organisation through difficult times.’


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