Leading our staff through periods of change and uncertainty is one of the most critical roles for us as leaders.
We must recognize that not everyone is comfortable with change and that what we may perceive as minor change may be viewed as a major upheaval for certain members of our team. It is important that we introduce new and different ideas or processes in a manner that reduces staff concerns and, ultimately, staff push back.
Here are a few tips that may assist you in bringing about orderly and peaceful change within your practice:
- Be Perfectly Clear: Nothing incites confusion, concern, and push back more than poor communication about a desired change. In the absence of clarity, the staff is left to draw their own conclusions about the nature of change and its impact on them. Unfortunately, when this lack of clarity occurs, the staff is more likely to assume the worst possible scenarios regarding the desired change.
- Present the Vision: If we expect change to occur, we better have a clear vision of what the change will look like once it is implemented, and we need to be able to communicate the vision so that it is shared by our staff. Included in a well presented vision is an explanation of why change is necessary, what will need to change for the vision to become reality, and how the change will benefit the practice and staff.
- Seek Out Early Adopters: It is important to identify those staff members that are not threatened by change and can buy in to the vision and necessary change early in the change process. These staff members will have a calming and reassuring effect on the more skeptical and uncertain members of the team. Let these early adopters know how much their support means to you and how important their input is to achieving the overall vision.
- Engage the Staff: For those of us that have seasoned veterans for staff, we simply need to define the desired result and allow the staff to determine the process for achieving the result. This technique encourages maximum buy-in by the staff because by using their own creativity and resourcefulness they feel more relevant and essential in facilitating the change and making the vision a reality. With less seasoned staff, we may need to play a bigger role in defining the process, but we should allow the staff to provide feedback and feel like they are vital to the process.
- Be Patient and Supportive: Taking a supportive role is essential for our staff during a time of change. Change does not occur spontaneously or without potential issues in a healthcare practice. If we accept that there will be a learning curve and we make allowances for inevitable mistakes and miscues, we will facilitate a much smoother and happier transition for ourselves and our staff.
Finally, we must always remember that change is inevitable and necessary. Knowing how to guide our staff through what may be a difficult time for them will ultimately solidify our position as leaders and provide them with the security they desperately need throughout the change process.
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Dr. Joel Small and Dr. Edwin McDonald, the founders of Line of Sight Coaching, are dental practitioners, authors, speakers and Business Leadership Coaches who work with healthcare professionals to help them build more successful practices so they can live the balanced life they seek.