Navigating change in your veterinary practice is necessary to successfully grow as a business. While change can be exciting, it can also be challenging. Here are three tips to help you get your team members on board.
1: Involve your team
Successfully implementing change is a group effort. Before bringing in new policies or software, talk to your team about what is changing and why. Listen to their suggestions and incorporate this into the changes being made. Remember that change doesn’t happen instantly, and talk to your staff to create a realistic timeline to gradually implement changes in your practice.
“Focus on your team members’ individual strengths and highlight what they bring to your practice. Leverage their skills to make change easier. For example, if you are planning to use a new app for client communication, get your employees with strong client engagement skills on board first. Let them know how this new app will bring value to their jobs and improve the client experience while easing their workload. These skilled employees can act as a champion of your new tool and help get the rest of your team on board and motivated.”
2: Prioritize communication
Effective communication is essential when navigating change in your practice. Whether you are updating policies and procedures, or implementing new technology, it is important to avoid misunderstandings. Before beginning the change process, put together a communication plan. This should include clear, direct, and frequent communication, leaving little room for rumors or confusion. Be prepared to answer questions such as:
- Why is this change needed right now?
- How will this change benefit staff members and the practice?
- How will staff members be affected?
- What are the new expectations?
When creating your communication plan, take advantage of different channels, such as meetings, training sessions, or emails. Try to take your staff member’s different learning styles into account as well. Some individuals may learn best from watching a training video, while others benefit from hands-on experience or one-on-one coaching. Reach out to your team to find out what works best for them.
3: Encourage a safe and supportive culture
Culture is just as important as communication when implementing change. Change can bring uncertainty and resistance, and it is essential for your team to communicate these feelings.
Staff members who are feeling apprehensive need to know that they can safely voice their concerns and that they will be heard. Be sure your team knows they can openly communicate without fear of repercussions. Listening to your staff’s questions and worries will help you strengthen the bond between employees and managers.
If your staff doesn’t approach you with their concerns, make an effort to actively reach out to them. You may want to consider using an online form to gather anonymous feedback. Remember to give your staff the opportunity to fully explain their views and respond without bias.
Collaborate with team members to address the root cause of any resistance. Ask about areas of improvement and use this feedback to fine-tune your plans and improve your change management strategy. Employees are the ones who will largely be executing the change, so this feedback will help the transition from creating new policies to implementing them.
Managing change in your veterinary practice may seem like a daunting task, but with teamwork, effective communication, and a healthy work environment, you can successfully guide your staff through challenges and embrace new visions for your practice.