The well-being of healthcare workers has become a growing concern. Managers in this sector also face psychological health issues. What's more, their level of distress is likely to influence their ability to provide effective leadership. This is the finding of Marie-Hélène Gilbert, an organizational psychologist and full professor in the Department of Management at Université Laval.
In a survey of over 500 healthcare managers, the researcher noted the predominance of an organizational culture oriented towards achieving goals, indicators and results - a competitive culture. And yet, choosing values that are more focused on people, collaboration and individual participation (group culture) improves employees’ psychological health. It also fosters transformational leadership, focused on a shared vision and individual commitment and development. When managers experience psychological distress at work, they tend to adopt a more transactional leadership style, i.e., oriented towards achieving organizational objectives, as well as laissez-faire leadership, characterized by a lack of support and availability towards their teams.
The researcher observed that employees’ mental health depends largely on a healthy organizational culture, in which happy managers are able to provide good leadership. Marie-Hélène Gilbert’s work has also revealed that mental health is particularly important in times of crisis. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the researcher followed some forty healthcare managers for eight weeks to record the strategies they put in place to support their teams and protect their own mental health. As well as providing opportunities for peer exchange and support, the discussion meetings revealed that leadership and supervisory competencies were priorities. Managers testified to the need to be more hands-on with their teams, to take the time to consult with them and to explain decisions to them as much as possible. The identification of these strategies to which managers can turn highlights the importance of competencies development for managers, especially in a crisis context.