November 25, 2012 by astancilwomack
So as you know, I am a student. I was doing research for my changing environments class and came across an interesting article about implementing change successfully in a medical practice. The article was written by Barbara C. Johnson, PhD, and Elizabeth E. Stewart, PhD. The article was entitled The Key to Implementing Change in Your Practice. It was published in 2008 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The article estimated that somewhere between 50-80% of change initiatives fail in Fortune 1,000 companies. I think it is safe to assume that number is fairly accurate in all companies. Attempting to make a change within the company, must first start with your employees. This article really touches on that concept. The authors suggest that there is an emotional component of change that needs to be addressed with your employees before they will commit to the change. It may sound a bit silly, but choosing the correct words to explain why the change is necessary, and how your organization plans to carry it out will allow your employees to feel more at ease. The authors bring up a valid point that if your employees feel emotions such as anger, exhaustion, frustration, etc while trying to implement the new strategy then in will likely fail. When your employees understand the necessity for the change, they are much more likely to take the initiative to implement the change.
Another concept the authors note is that business in general is moving toward a much more team emphasis approach. This can be especially hard in the medical field because most physicians are used to being the center of their practice, but in order to ask your employees to change, you must change as well. Promoting a team environment will empower your employees to continue implementing the change you are requesting. Creating a team environment will also allow for optimal solutions because there are more perspectives to analyze. Lastly, encouraging your team to be actively involved in the implementation (i.e. allowing them to give constructive criticism throughout the process) will enable them to be more committed to the initiative.
If your practice hasn’t always promoted a team environment, it may be hard for your employees to trust that their opinions matter. If your practice is just transitioning to a team environment then the authors suggests creating social gatherings like picnics, luncheons, hikes, charity fundraisers etc. Outside of the office most people feel like equals, so allowing your employees to see each other as humans, rather than co-workers it will promote team building.
The take away from this article is that of course a change initiative will always need a strategic plan, but that human emotion should also be a factor for implementation. Employees may not be so resistant to change if they understand the necessity, know what to expect in each phase of implementation, and if they feel like the change is happening as a result of both their individual efforts, and the team’s efforts.
If you would like to read the full article, click here. I hope you found this synopsis helpful. As always please feel free to post any comments or questions.