Episode 167 | Strategies to Communicate Change
WITH MAUREEN WERRBACH
- Episode 167 | Strategies to Communicate Change 00:00
Hey Group Practice listeners! In this episode, I discuss strategies you can use when communicating change with your team. Change is hard on people for a lot of reasons, but there are ways you can leverage your communication skills to help ease the transition.
In this episode I cover:
- Clearly defining change
- Getting team members invested in change
- Showing your team that you care
- Why resistance to change comes up
- Being okay with not everyone being happy
- Remembering you can change the change
- Celebrating short term wins
- Continuously communicating through change
This episode is sponsored by TherapyNotes. TherapyNotes is an EHR software that helps behavioral health professionals manage their practice with confidence and efficiency. I use TherapyNotes in my own group practice and love its amazing support team, billing features, and scheduling capabilities. It serves us well as a large group practice owner.
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Welcome back everyone. Today I want to talk about ways to communicate change to your team. As we all know, change is hard for our teams, our clinicians, and even ourselves. And so I want to chat a little bit about some tips that I have around how to communicate through change with your teams so that they’re more likely to be on board, you want to start with really clearly defining what’s actually changing. A mistake that a lot of business owners make is that they’re working tirelessly on thinking and planning and strategizing these changes that they forget to put in that same amount of effort into actually explaining the change to their team. And why that change is happening.
Along that same vein, is when we’re communicating change, is that we should also be getting input along the way from our teams so that they’re involved in the decision making to some degree, so that they’re more likely to be invested in that change. Right? When people have input and involvement in change, they’re more likely to have that buy in when the change happens, even if it’s not according to their specific plans. Because they had a voice, they get to give input. And you heard and listened to that is more likely that they’re going to kind of run with that change, even if it’s not exactly how they wanted it, because they will know and trust that it that the decisions that you’re making are in the best interest of the group practice as a whole.
One easy way of doing this is to have a feedback form or spreadsheet that you make whenever a big decision is coming around the corner. One example in my group practice most recently is around returning to work. We are still remote snd we’re toying with the idea of having a blended remote team or a fully remote team. And we wanted to get a sense of what people’s opinions were on their own work situation, how do they want to see their role in the future look at Urban Wellness. And so we asked for that feedback. And we asked for questions around what obstacles there were to any of those options of returning to work completely, doing a blended schedule, or working from home completely. What are the obstacles to any one of those? What are any barriers that might come up and potential fixes for any of those options along with what do they want to do. And when we get that information, we’re able then to look at it and see where our team’s heads are at. And it helps us guide some decision making right?
A long time ago, my first benefit that I started offering my group practice like 10 years ago is retirement matching, because to me, having money in retirement, and being able to retire and and live a good life is really important to me. And so I displaced that value I have as a person in saving for retirement, something that I highly value, onto everyone else and assumed that this benefit would be super exciting for everyone–that we were going to match retirement percentage and all that–only to find that most didn’t really care one way or the other. Because I had falsely assumed that because I thought it was an important thing that everyone else would value it at the same level and find it equally important. And it’s not true, which is why it’s important to get the feedback and input along the way, as you’re thinking about making change with your actual teammates who are going to potentially have to shift to accommodate those changes.
The other thing that’s really important is to show them that you care. Now, if you’re a small practice, you might be involved in the day to day of all of your teammates. And if you’re a larger practice, you might have a leadership team that actually leads the clinicians and administrative staff on your team. So whoever that is, that is really leading your team needs to make sure that on a regular basis, that they’re showing their teams that they care because when you care personally about the people on your team, they’re more likely to feel safe about your decisions as a leader or the decisions that your leadership team makes on behalf of the business. Now, despite all your best efforts, there’s still going to be times where there’s some resistance, right? And you want to think about where that resistance is coming from there. There are a few reasons. One might be that they might feel some psychological ownership over the thing that’s changing, especially if it’s been in place for a really long time, right. And that act of changing that thing that they sort of had ownership of will kind of flip upside down right. There might be some resistance to the like literal content of the change if they have a strong differing of opinion about what’s being introduced or added or removed. They also might just resist the way that you introduce that change, maybe how you communicated around that change is the biggest problem and not the change itself. And so looking at where this resistance might be coming from is going to be really helpful in helping you help your team get on board.
Now, that being said, you will not make everyone happy, right? And not everyone’s gonna be 100% on board with change, no matter all the efforts that you put into this. And so the bottom line for you as leader, and for your leadership team, is to know that the goal isn’t to get 100% approval, it’s to get 100% understanding of the change and why it’s happening. So that they can best support that change, even if it’s not something that they would have necessarily wanted, right? It’s not again, about the full approval of every change that you make in the business, across the board with every employee in your business, it’s getting 100% understanding on why that change is happening, so that they can know that it’s in the best interest of the business, right? If they know that you’re making the best decisions for the team as a whole, so that the business can survive, even if it’s something that that’s not exactly what they want, they’re more likely to go along with it because they understand why it needs to happen.
The next thing is really being prepared to change the change. And this is something that I think we don’t look at often and we don’t talk to our teams about often is that we are humans, as business owners, we’re humans, we make mistakes when we’re making change we usually are evolving into something that’s new, right? If we’re changing to something else, our business or a policy or procedure, it means we’re going from what we were to something new. And that means that we might make the wrong decision, we might make the wrong procedures or the wrong steps. And so we need to be prepared, that when we make decisions, we can change those decisions, if they’re not working. That our policies and procedures are living documents more than anything else. They’re meant to be reviewed, revised, updated, remove the things that we decide do not have to be set in stone, and they don’t have to be forever.
And then along those lines is getting people to be on board or helping them be on board, is to start now with celebrating progress, celebrating short term wins. This helps keep the momentum going, as change starts to happen. If we’re not celebrating and on the small basis, right on the day to day, or on the quarterly basis, on the things that each individual person is doing or that the business is doing that is positive and forward moving, then it’s gonna feel scary when we kind of drop a big change onto the table.
And then along those lines is really keeping them in the loop. I know I started the podcast episode by bringing this up. But keeping them in the loop isn’t only being clear, and communicating the why for this change with your team and then leaving it at that. It’s community, it’s a loop. It’s a feedback loop where we continuously communicate the change the why, and asking if they have any questions about any of it. And to continue that loop over and over again until everyone truly feels on board. Right? We can’t say things once. And even if we’re thorough that first time assume that everyone gets it and understands there’s, we all need time to process, we all will come up with additional thoughts as the time goes. And creating that space. to retell that story to follow up is really what’s going to be the key to getting as many people on board with that change as possible. Now, I get that change is hard. It is not fun for us as business owners to make change, because it’s stressful. And we don’t know if we’re making the right decisions 100% of the time. And that’s part of what business ownership is about, right? But we can do a good amount of things to help our team feel as confident as they can in our decisions around making change and keeping them involved in some of that decision making so that they can feel more connected and invested in that change as it’s happening. If you’re making any big changes lately, I am wishing you luck and hopefully these tips are helpful in getting your team on board with that change. See you next week.
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Here are the resources and guides we recommend based on this episode
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Meet your host
Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here:
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