External challenges and changes mean we are often selling change – or the need for yet more change – inside our own practices to our own people. And that becomes yet another challenge, as change is frequently resisted. What practice owners often don’t understand though is what it is that is actually being resisted.
When one person, such as the owner or practice manager, attempts to be the answer to all things and to be the “change agent” inside the firm then it is rapidly perceived by stakeholders as it all being something that person created. The person trying to take charge and come up with the internal solutions to the external challenges often becomes unfairly perceived as being the actual problem. The result is resistance.
“Change” is rarely an issue for staff in reality. People are perfectly comfortable with change…it is the normal environment for us all. What people fear and resist is the unknown. It is the “unknown” which has to be addressed in order to successfully create change, especially change that has a strong sense of urgency. So the problem is not usually the changing environment externally, and nor is it typically an issue of resisting authority, it is simply a lack of understanding of the key drivers that lead to the changes and the consequences of it.
To successfully implement a lot of change in a relatively short period of time (for example; over 1-2 years) there is an internal “sales” process that one should go through in order to obtain buy-in from the team,and also to ensure that they understand what the catalysts are. They need to know that it is not someone’s ego trip, but a genuine need for the business as a whole to go through a process of change for the good of everyone involved in the business. People buy in to the process in other words if they understand the external drivers, the rationale behind the decisions made inside the business, and also understand what the evolutionary process will look like. Do those things and the “fear of the unknown” is removed.
To sell the process of change inside a practice the 4 big steps of the process are:
Establish the compelling case for change. Explain what is causing the need for it, and what it is likely to involve. Don’t sugar-coat it…be straight up.
Create clear responsibility areas. Leadership in this respect is not the same as being responsible for figuring everything out,or taking responsibility for each facet of change within the business. Significant change across a practice can only occur through delegation and accountability of all of those within the business.
Communicate often. Remind people of why you are going through the process of change regularly, and report even more regularly on the little “wins” of progress. You have to keep the awareness level high, and keep the momentum going.
Trust your people. To get practice-wide buy-in and commitment requires that you give them responsibility and accountability…but then trust them enough to get out of their way. Empower your people to handle it and it becomes their project – and let them know that you trust them to handle their part of the change process. Give them ownership of it.
Selling the need for change is critical to have change embraced by your team, and then it is all about following the process to maintain the focus and buy-in – and to get the results you were looking for.
Related: Get More Referrals With Repetition