Long-term success is contingent on consistent performance. In the context of healthcare’s continual change, leaders are challenged with maintaining performance standards while the walls shift around them. This unpredictability impacts more than the day-to-day — it can rattle the confidence of every stakeholder and create doubt that impedes teams’ ability to act.
In this week’s High Stakes podcast, we discuss the virtues and strategies of thoughtful change management with Shawn Evans, executive coach and organizational advisor, and Jarrard Inc vice president Kevin Kearns, who holds a doctorate in organizational psychology.
- Every change is unique, but leaders’ response strategy can be routine (but not turnkey). Their imperative should be defining the change – proactively creating order out of potential chaos. There should be a process for understanding unexpected developments at a management level, then translating it so that everything is clear when it’s cascaded down to the frontline teams.
- Trust is a prophylactic. Change management is both an opportunity to engender good relationships between leaders and their teams, and a muscle test for how much those team members trust their leaders. The best way to prepare for the unpredictable is by garnering the faith of employees so that, when lightning strikes, response efforts are quick and efficient.
- Test before launching. Borrowing from his work with the military, Evans relies on the concept of “red teaming.” A red team is a designated group that brings due diligence to change management by critiquing planned organizational response to an initiative. How well is it communicated? Where might managers fall short? What did they do right? This approach can also be used in project post mortems, but is better when it comes on the front end.
- Vulnerability is the linchpin to agility, which is a critical trait in change management. Leaders need to be aware that not everything is going to go according to plan. But the right strategic approach, paired with an intentional willingness to discuss problems openly and admit when they don’t understand something, is the first step to learning how to manage the unpredictable.