Joined: February 15, 2005
From: Indianapolis, IN
Welcome back to The Therapist's Coach.
How do you manage change in the therapy industry? The honest answer? Pretty much the same way you would manage anything else of a chaotic and messy nature.
You don't really manage change. You grapple with it. "Managing" change is more of matter of leadership than management.
Meg Wheatley said, "We can't get out of the messes we are in without developing a much longer time parameter, without having a new kind of patience for the development of order." She is right. Small, best practice steps are critical in getting change off on the right foot.
The chaos began during a friday afternoon announcement that a rehabilitation business would be taking over operations of the therapy department in a long term acute care hospital. The classic storming reactions of the employees started. They were in shock. They were outraged. Some were ready to turn in their resignations.
Whether it is an initial negative response like this department had or optimism turned sour further down the road it can be said that nobody really likes change. Even when the "Why We are Changing Message" is sent clearly and is without question the best for the survival of the organization, reaction is similar.
Looking more closely at the essence of the reaction "storm" is helpful ...
"I don't know what is on the other side" "I don't know if I can trust YOU/IT" "I don't know if I contributed to the problem and the fact that they/it are/is here now" "I'm not sure if I can live through the fact that things might actually be different and maybe even better"
One of the most important steps in staying close to the chaos, if you will, is to keep the information flowing. To build trust and credibility. Especially critical are the moments from the announcment of a change ( Ex: the new on-line documentation system and laptops) and the behaviors that follow (gathering small groups for computer training) in the next few days. It is important to get everyone's questions out on the table, to get them answered and answered quickly. A leader during change must keep communication barriers low and easily hurdled. It is also very important to know that you must give people the time and the avenue to vent, grieve, and question. It is tempting for leaders to want to condense the storm.
How do you generate trust and credibility during the critical early days of change? Create an open climate with lots of active listening and opportunities for team members to be heard. Delay negative judgments. The most emotional person initially may become your advocate. Empathize with others without backing away from the decision that has been made.
Keep in mind it is not the intrusion of the new "thing" in people's lives as much as it is the resulting loss of control. And remember... that change only happens through people.
What is changing in your world and how are you leading or responding to the change? How are you building a climate of trust during a difficult change?
Thanks for reading the Forum. And thanks for posting your thoughts and views on this topic.