• Stephen Harden

One Reason Why Change Management in Healthcare So Hard for Staff

Updated: Jun 7, 2018



Changing the culture of your hospital is a substantial "gift" to the staff.


Really.


If you create a culture where the newest, and most inexperienced staff member can have a stop-the-line conversation with the oldest and most experienced physician, and that conversation is "just the way we do business," then you have given everyone who works there a real gift.


Employee and physician satisfaction improves, staff turnover goes down, and patient satisfaction skyrockets. Your institution becomes the employer of choice.

This is a substantial gift. It's a gift because as an administrator or leader, you do 80% of the work to make a culture change successful. (If you don't believe this, you probably shouldn't be doing a culture change project.) The staff mostly just have to accept your work and believe in where you want to take them.


Unfortunately, it's actually not that easy to give something substantial away. That's because accepting it means a change (in practice pattern, responsibility, or worldview ("I'm not just a Tech, my opinion matters and I have a responsibility to speak up.")) of the person receiving it. It's stressful.


You see it as a gift (making this a better place to practice medicine), they see it as taking something away from staff and physicians. Once a person or an organization comes to believe that, "this practice pattern is mine," they erect a worldview around their possession of it.


Their ownership leads them to say things like:


  • I just work here.

  • I spoke up before and had my head handed to me.

  • I'm not saying anything, I have to work with this doctor every day and he will make my life miserable.

  • Administration won't support me.

  • It's not my job.

  • I'm sure it will turn out okay.

  • She's the physician, I'm sure she knows what's best.

  • I've always done it this way.


Taking old thought patterns away from staff instantly becomes personal, an act seen by staff as being far greater than living without "the way things used to be" in the first place would be. If they hadn't done things "that way" before you tried to make a change, the change wouldn't be that big of a deal.


As humans, we care more about the change being made because we see it as taking something we own from us, and fail to look at the gift we will be getting in return.

You can help with this by over communicating the benefit. You can never stress the benefit too much.

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