Change as an opportunity

Operating effectively during periods of change is a challenge, says Forbes columnist Charece Newell, but it should also be viewed as an opportunity. She outlines her strategic approach to change management, with some words of wisdom on embracing disruption and improving business resilience

General practice is undergoing significant change. There is increasing consolidation as practices merge and those that remain are growing larger and diversifying, providing additional services to their communities – and taking on more staff to do so. As well as taking care of the everyday, practice managers are called upon to become effective HR change managers – directing the growth of the practice and maintaining its productivity and performance.

In a new blog post, Forbes writer Charece Newell outlines a strategic vision for managing change. While focused on business, there are important lessons here for practice managers.

Change Is Unsettling

Change is a disruption to the norm and brings fear of the unknown. This fear fosters the idea that what was once perceived as a familiar territory will no longer be the same, which is much less comfortable. The key is to manage change in such a way that your employees view this as an opportunity, not as a threat. You must put some tactics in place to manage these times within your organisation so everything flows smoothly, and a positive outcome is set in motion.

Change management has a huge impact

The first major step toward successful change management is having a clear understanding of the approach you are looking to employ within your organisation. It is imperative to understand how effective change management can impact a business – this way, you can work together efficiently to create a change management plan.

Adding to this, mergers, especially, must be handled with extreme care because they tend to persist over long periods of time and have a larger rate of failure — almost 70%, according to McKinsey. The top three reasons such changes fail are:

  1. Poorly planned integration approaches.
  2. Incorrect target identification.
  3. Delayed implementation.

Innovative tactics for change management

The definition of change is simple: ‘To make or become different’. So, with any change in an organisation, HR has an important role to play. Responsibilities of this role include:

  • Effectively managing change, causing little-to-no disruption to the workforce.
  • Communicating and coaching employees through the change.
  • Acting as conductor of the initiative by designing steps and ensuring resources are secured.

These are explored in more detail below.

  1. Solidify understanding of ‘the family’: get to know the people and the history of the organisation before you start to implement change. The work environment could have been a place where people were mistreated, creating feelings of mistrust, fear and manipulation. You must know your audience for change to run smoothly.
  2. Make sure employees understand their role: it is also important that all employees are coached and steered towards a growth mindset. They should know that change is an opportunity and that they should not lose sleep over a merger (or change process). (It) should be viewed as a situation that has potential for positive new beginnings.

This approach will create a solid foundation that will be able to hold its own, enforce corporate health and bounce back from many obstacles.

  1. Map out a strategic communication plan: Lack of communication is the No. 1 morale killer. Employees want transparency. They want to know:
  • What does this transition mean for them?
  • What are the steps involved?
  • Should they be worried about their jobs?
  • Will departments be affected?

Make sure you are keeping your employees involved. This will strengthen the relationship, build buy-in, encourage reactions and identify barriers. You should be prepared to ask, “How are we doing? Is there something we could be doing better?”

Success hinges upon your employees’ understanding that they are in good hands. Their jobs are major parts of their lives, and it is crucial that they understand what is going on, and that they aided in the decision-making process.

This is an abbreviated version of an article that first appeared on Forbes.

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