The Art of Mastering Change: Making Sure It Lasts!


Terry DowdBy Terry Dowd, CRA, FAHRA

July 2013—Once the dust has settled from the initiation of any new change it is important to maintain momentum and ensure the change will be long lasting.  At this point the process is probably not complete, but there are a number of things that can be done to help smooth out the bumps that undoubtedly have occurred.  Continued vigilance is important as this is a critical time in the implementation of a change.

Continue to communicate:  Using every possible venue, continue to communicate progress and successes.  Remind everyone change is not perfect.  By its very nature it is disruptive.  There is still work to be done.  Enlist the help of your leaders to help spread the word and support the team. Informal leaders can address concerns on a one on one level with their peers.  Everyone needs to be visible, engaged, and willing to support the team.

Review the vision:  Reiterate the goals and objectives, and connect the dots between the change that is occurring and how it supports the vision.  Revisit the “future state” you created at the beginning of the journey.  Ask your team, “Are we there yet?”  If not, “What needs to be done to get us there?”  Brainstorm ideas.  Show that your intent is to solve problems as soon as they arise.  Many things that seem complicated and impossible require a process change or reallocation of resources.

Measure:  Continue to monitor your progress.  Set expectations for your established metrics and assess where your team is.  If there is an area that needs attention, single it out as quickly as possible and find out why it is not meeting the goals.  Get that area back on track as quickly as possible.  Momentum is your best friend!

Review Processes:  Perform a “lessons learned” assessment.  Organize teams to work on whatever issues exist.  Let them manage the changes that need to occur.  Make a list of these “lessons learned” and keep it handy for the next change (and there will be one) as part of continually improving the change process. Treat every issue as a learning opportunity for you and your team.

Be sure everyone is using the new system or process.  A commitment from everyone to use the new process is essential to success.  Do not go backward!  If there is an unanticipated need for additional training or a shift in resources, address it immediately.  Fill the void as soon as possible.

Celebrate:  Recognize everyone’s contributions both publicly and privately.  Department and facility events, congratulatory banners, and email messages keep accomplishments in the forefront. Small gifts if your budget permits are always welcome.  Sending thank you notes to the families of team members who have worked long hours, spent additional time on weekends, or changed shifts is a very effective way to demonstrate appreciation.

Honor the past.  Alan Ung, managing consultant for Operational Excellence Consulting suggests a “Hall of Fame”1 that recognizes the accomplishments of long term employees who have paved the way and new employees who have contributed to the team during the transition.

Create a culture that is change hardy:  Hire and train change hardy employees who exhibit the behaviors needed to be agile and flexible.  Involve HR to develop competencies around change management.  Develop interview questions for new hires, and assimilate change functions into performance evaluations and job descriptions.  Make change competence an essential component of your culture and you will be prepared for whatever changes you will encounter in the future!

Reference:

1. Ung A.  Make Change That Lasts. Operational Excellence Consulting.  Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/oeconsulting/make-change-last.  Accessed June 20, 2013

Bibliography:

Harsak A, Aguirre D, Brown A.  Making Change Happen, and Making It Stick. Strategy+Business. 2010. Available at: http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00057. Accessed June 19, 2013.

Pritchett P,  Pound R.  High Velocity Culture Change: A Handbook for Managers. Dallas, TX: Pritchett Publishing Company; 2007.

Pritchett P, Pound R.  The Employee Handbook for Organizational Change: Facing the Problems, Finding the Opportunities. Dallas, TX: Pritchett Publishing Company; 2008.

Watson J.  Making Change Last! [PowerPoint]. FreeLeanSite.com. Available at: http://www.freeleansite.com/coaching.html. Accessed June 20, 2013


Terry Dowd, CRA, FAHRA is the senior clinical manager at Banner Health System-Baywood in Mesa, AZ. She can be reached at terry.dowd@bannerhealth.com.

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