Change: Ready or Not, Here it Comes!

The single biggest impediment to growth is the inability to change. Building quick reflexes and a culture that embraces change will protect your business and allow it to thrive.
“The only thing that is constant is change.” –Heraclitus

How Do You Respond to Change?

Your environment is constantly changing: the people you work with, your clients, who gets elected to public office, and your teenager’s taste in friends. You can choose to interpret change in one of two ways: pessimistically or optimistically.

Pessimistic Interpretive Style

Are you filled with panic at the mention of an impending change? Are you unable to concentrate, impulsive, and apt to complain? Do you resort to sitting on the couch, sucking your proverbial thumb? Does finding alternate ways of doing things give you a headache? Do you long for the good old days? If you find yourself nodding and answering, “Yes!” to these questions, you are a pessimist when it comes to change.
Even positive changes involve loss, uncertainty, and some degree of emotional turmoil. But you will not be successful at work if you typically interpret change as:
  • Permanent,
  • Universal,
  • Internal, or
  • Scary.

Optimistic Interpretive Style

Do your ears perk up when there’s talk of change? Do you meet the challenge head on? Do you take initiative instead of waiting for others to address the problem? Do you spend your energy on solutions rather than emotions? Do you take risks, use your imagination, and keep learning? If these statements describe you, you are an optimist when it comes to change.
Change initiatives succeed because people adapt their attitudes and behaviors as fast as the practice needs them to. You will be successful at work if you typically interpret change as:
  • Temporary,
  • Specific,
  • External, and
  • Exciting.

When Making a Change

Dealing with change doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are some ways to make it easier:

Break down the process.

Look at each step of the change, and identify exactly where you need to make improvements.

Estimate implementation costs.

Factor in training, lost productivity, and unexpected challenges.

Evaluate your plan.

Do you need to write new procedures before you can implement the change? What can you address before beforehand to circumvent potential obstacles?

Share information.

Constantly communicate and educate. Your team should understand what the change is about, and what it’s not about. Help people see the “why” of the change. Relate it to the vision, mission, and core values of the practice. The transition won’t begin until they understand the change.

Encourage participation.

Help employees see how they, the clients, the patients, and the clinic will benefit. Emphasize teamwork. You’ll get buy-in through participation; people don’t argue with what they help create.

Get going.

Get in the trenches with front-line employees. Roll up your sleeves, improvise, and learn.

Next month, we’ll dig deeper into strategies that improve your chances of being successful when implementing change at work.

This article is adapted from content in Shawn McVey’s presentation titled, “Managing Change and Growth” and “Manager’s Guide to Implementing Change.” To schedule Shawn to give this presentation to your group or team, contact Cindy Oliphant at 888-759-7191 or by email.

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