Change: To Fear or Not to Fear
The biggest hurdle in advancing a practice comes from a failure to effectively implement change. I have spent hours talking to doctors who are at their wits’ end over their teams’ resistance to progress in the practice. Change can be difficult, but if handled with full commitment and swiftly, it can set a new standard of expectation for your entire team and pave the way for future growth.
Change is vital to helping you better serve your patients and grow your practice, but how you implement that change can make or break you. Effectively communicating changes to staff will determine your long-term success. Explain why the change is necessary and state your expected goals and outcomes. Then set up an effective training schedule for your team to ensure their success. In my experience, top-down change is resisted overall. The reality is, some of the best advice for growth can come from our team members. So, I encourage you to have them AT the table as you are planning for change so there is consensus and buy-in from all involved. Otherwise, there may be intentional or subversive attempts to thwart the change.
If you are met with resistance, focus on the person giving you push-back. Your top priority is to quickly determine why this person is so opposed to change. Not all employees will be vocal. Some will come up with multiple excuses to miss training, show up late to meetings, or bury themselves in seemingly unimportant tasks that have become a “top priority.” Putting an end to these sabotage efforts, before they have an opportunity to impact the remaining staff, is essential.
There are many reasons employees resist change. Here are a few:
A top concern for many employees is that, as things become more efficient and streamlined, there might be an opportunity for the practice to minimize the number of employees in the practice to reduce overhead costs.
If changes are poorly communicated to your team, employees can feel like they don’t know what is going on. The fear of the unknown will allow their imaginations to run wild. All they can envision is patient resistance, more chaos, and additional work on an already-full plate.
In many cases, one of the biggest problems when implementing change comes down to timing. Are you trying to implement a new process or product during the busiest time of the day/month/year? Are you also implementing change while your office manager or team leader is on vacation? Make sure that the timing makes sense for your practice.
It is unrealistic not to expect some apprehension when making changes in your office. One of my team members spent two years stating the case for new software in our office. Once we implemented the new software to the practice, she began to have her doubts. She felt overwhelmed and silently resisted the changes that she had requested. Addressing her fears and concerns went a long way in getting her back on board.
Change is a vital part of any successful practice. To be effective, communicate the need for change in a straightforward way, break big changes into small steps, and deal with any push-back quickly. There can be no growth without change. Eventually you, your team, and ultimately your patients will benefit from that growth.