Glenn Morley, Allison Sleight (guest blogger)
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Successfully Managing Through Change
Given the dynamic nature of the world, anyone who is fortunate enough to have it all figured out nowadays is surely in the minority. Most practice leaders are managing the best they can through the aftermath of COVID shutdowns and are focused on reopening, reinvention, and strategic practice re-engineering all in real time. Each situation is unique and the necessity for quick action has become a new norm, making a lot of advice feel prosaic.
In this climate, some practices seem to be navigating change and its associated business complexities better than others. It begs the question: What are these organizations doing to drive success? Based on insights from our ongoing work with clients, this post sets out to share some ways practices are working well through change, with some notable best practices that we believe will prove helpful both for today and the days to come.
Change Management Best Practices
Below are seven practical considerations to help better position the practice and its team to face change in the most positive manner. While no one knows what the future holds, these best practices are universal and timeless. With no time quite like the present — both literally and figuratively — let us explore each one.
- Be present for each team member. A business is only as good as its team; therefore, practice leadership should carve out time in their busy schedules to focus on each team member. Leaders who are willing to spend a few minutes every week checking in with each direct report will likely have a team that is significantly more productive for the business. Isn’t that worth it? Absolutely. Now, more than ever, team members need to feel the presence, awareness, and appreciation of leadership for what they do each day. It will keep them motivated and buoy them at critical moments as everyone tries their best to navigate the current reality.
- Be accepting. Everyone manages through change differently. Some staff members may be doing well, performing at their best, while others may be having a more difficult time. Suspending judgment and meeting people “where they are,” is critical to helping everyone move through change. Seek to understand, acknowledge and validate feelings, and ask how to support and help each person move forward. Team members will be grateful for leadership’s commitment to seeing them through this challenging time and will value that they work for such a great, caring company.
- Be an active listener. Now, more than ever, leaders need to hear from all team members — and not just on how everyone is personally doing — but from a business standpoint. The team is leadership’s eyes and ears in the practice. Therefore, begin and end each day by asking the team what is happening in the practice at ground level and fully concentrate on what is being said. This can reveal actions that should be taken to ensure greater safety or maximize existing opportunities to create a better patient and staff experience.
- Be the patient. To create an excellent patient experience, leadership and staff must evaluate the practice and its operations from a patient perspective. Given current health and safety concerns, policies and procedures have changed and continue to evolve. Employ experiential learning tactics to further improve operations and procedures. For instance, staff members can regularly pretend to be patients and go through the entire patient encounter from beginning (scheduling an appointment) to end (checking out). Experiential examination such as that helps staff uncover ways to improve new processes that create a safer, more welcoming practice environment for clients.
- Be financially focused. As a business, the practice must carefully manage its revenue to expense ratio to stay financially solid. While some practices may now have some certainty around revenue, and many expense adjustments have been thoughtfully made, there is still a feeling of unpredictability. For this reason, consider conducting an operating forecast to project cash flow and refocus operations in a way that ensures the financial health of the business. An operating forecast will reveal where opportunities may exist — and allow the practice to make needed adjustments with more confidence.
- Be flexible. If signs arise that something is not working, leadership must be open and willing to enact change. Courageous actions that challenge the status quote and help the organization adapt to the new reality have been a common theme in practices that are thriving. While change is scary and difficult to make, adaptation and innovation will pave the way forward. In the end, embracing opportunities can foster growth, safety, and work satisfaction, making all the uncertainty associated with change worth it in the long run.
- Be open to recommendations. Take advantage of help that is currently being offered by well-informed vendors, attorneys, advisors, colleagues, and societies. Peer-to-peer sharing has never been higher or more needed. Practices that are proactively educating themselves feel more confident and comfortable navigating through change and have a better chance of cultivating a stronger business.
There is no denying we are in a time of change. As we all work to adjust and adapt to the new reality, there will be stumbles along the way. But, as more and more practices are learning, it is important to get back up after stumbling and remain forward-focused in order to thrive.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: For more information on how to successfully manage through change, look into the latest BSM on-demand webinars.