Creating A Culture Of Change
In The IDD Workplace
Before any changes can be implemented or any equipment bought we need to understand just how vital people are to the success of any change initiative especially in the workplace. Implementing a new software system eg Focused EHR will change how people in the organization do their work. Managing the “people” aspect of organizational change is critical to achieving any degree of success no matter how wonderful the software or how many bells and whistles the new machine has. This is because changing how people work together can alter how your employee’s perceive the culture of your company and this can be psychologically destabilizing to many people if not handled correctly.
Research and reviews of failed change initiatives show that failure occurred because the initiatives did not deal with changes in how people and organizations work. In health IT technology implementations the software themselves did not lead to failure (Kaplan & Harris-Salamone, 2009) but the people leading the change failed to communicate value.
Based on these documented lessons, company owners/administrative leaders must consider several people-related factors when facilitating change for their staff
• Change creates uncertainty – Even when the ‘Current State’ is not ideal, change can upset the equilibrium of both individuals and organizations.
• People are afraid of loss – Fear of loss can include job loss, loss of social position in the group, and/or loss of self-esteem related to fear of being unable to use the technology or adequately care for patients using the technology.
• Team pressure to resist change is powerful – Staff members may feel that tensions associated with change and the social price (of being shunned by colleagues) for cooperating with the change are too great to accept.
• Staff may believe that proposed change is not in their best interest and/or that of the practice – If staff believe the change harms them or the practice, they will resist it. Especially if staff have experienced or even heard about multiple prior failed implementations at the company or unsuccessful organizational changes or EMR implementations.
First, keep staff at all levels involved in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of all change initiatives. This involvement gives staff a sense of ownership, belonging and fosters a culture of change.
Secondly, communicate: You cannot over-communicate! Explain the why eg in the implementation of an EHR such as Focused Software benefits include – improved communication, increased efficiency, more effective use of resources, higher quality of services/ documentation, better surveys, time and money savings (especially through saved personnel time) etc. and what’s in it for them (less duplication of documentation, quicker response from management staff, improved support availability, the staff are learning a new skillset for their CVs, etc.). Ensure that the management team communicates the message clearly and in detail, and that they radiate integrity and authenticity. Providing ‘Talking Points’ for managers is useful to ensure adequate and consistent communication. Ensure that communication can flow both ways – be open to questions and provide clear answers and explanations. Better to deal with doubts and grumbling upfront than to let it fester and infect other employees. Now communicate some more!
To foster a culture of change we must ensure that there is always alignment between individual goals and team or organizational goals ie a win-win situation. We do this by structuring individual incentives to align with staff personal motivations e.g. giving good evaluations and public recognition for staff who contribute above and beyond during the implementation of the EHR, contributing to a named charity on behalf of your team, buying a new office coffee maker or giving bonuses for excellent work during implementation. Show staff how achieving company goals aligns with their goals and foster a culture of ownership and cooperation as well as the expectancy of some failures in the pursuit of change (some degree of learning/failure is a defining characteristic of change). Transformational leaders go a step further and inspire a shared vision, bringing employees into the process of being the architects of the change instead of just implementing it. This creates a culture of collectivity within the organization—one of the first steps in making it change-ready.
Now we have reviewed the people aspect of a culture of change it’s time to create a written plan for success – find out how in our next blog!