Jackie Larson, President, Avantas
Healthcare is one industry that sees a lot of change – changes in laws and regulations, advances in medicine and technology – but living in this cycle of change doesn’t necessarily make it easier to work through.
The reality is that change is hard for many of us. We get comfortable living in the known that any new concept that comes along is a threat to our equilibrium.
The surge in healthcare data and analytics has the potential to profoundly change our healthcare system. The information collected can improve patient outcomes and treatment plans and create efficiencies across a health system.
But turning that breadth of information into actionable results requires change. And the question becomes, How can healthcare leaders help their stakeholders adopt and implement change?
When partnering with healthcare organizations to streamline their workforce and improve efficiencies, we provide them with the roadmap and training to help lead their employees through change so that they can achieve their goals. Here are four tips to help leaders guide change in their facilities.
Change is implemented more successfully when those involved understand the reasoning behind the decision. Tying change to the greater mission will help people understand its purpose. Leaders should clearly communicate everyone’s role in the new initiative and explain the benefits of the change. Connecting each individual to their impact on the project gives them personal accountability to see it through.
There’s a big difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is feeling and understand another’s emotions, whereas sympathy is extending your own feelings to others. What many leaders don’t realize is that sympathy can be very toxic to change initiatives.
For example, maybe a leader has an employee who is really struggling with understanding the change and is being vocal with their negative emotions. The leader might believe they need to validate these feelings to maintain trust with this employee, so offers sympathy. When attempting to ease an employee’s concern about a new initiative, statements made by the leader such as, “I’m not too happy about it either,” or “This is something corporate is making us do, so…” communicates the message that he or she is not in support of the change, so why should the employee be? Instead, meeting resistance with “What can I do to help you?” is an empathetic approach that lets employees know their leader is there to support them through the process and creates action to keep moving the project forward.
It’s easy for leaders to be drawn to people who are struggling with change, as they can be a significant barrier to progress. Leaders can focus an unnecessary and unproductive amount of time trying to align change-resistant or even negative mindsets with an initiative. This can derail a project’s momentum and create a toxic environment full of stress.
A more valuable way to achieve a successful implementation is for leaders to devote their efforts to working with those who are willing to do their part. Champions of change should be supported and exemplify personal accountability to the project. Give these champions a role in spearheading the initiative and communicating the mission and roll-out details.
Accountability is an important value to uphold when managing a team. Setting expectations and promoting personal accountability create a culture of responsibility and ownership. Accountability can be a powerful motivator for people to perform, pushing the initiative forward and driving results.
Nothing ever stays the same. The world is in a constant state of change, which means we must adapt to it. Acknowledging change and taking steps to make improvements may have us reaching outside of our comfort zones, but change is a collective human experience that we all must deal with.
Overcoming change is a process that requires new habits to be formed to align with organizational objectives. It takes thorough planning and focused time and effort to implement a new initiative in a way to successfully deliver on the expected outcome. Leaders play an exceptionally important role when implementing change in their organization. Strong leaders support and encourage their employees to adapt, knowing the organization will be stronger as a result.