Let’s face it. We live in an ever-changing world. As clients change, their needs also evolve, which means the businesses with whom they interact must also adapt accordingly – including veterinary clinics. The problem is, change is hard. Whether it’s staffing adjustments, modifications to practice policies, the introduction of new services or something else, the growing pains that come with change can be incredibly challenging. It can be helpful to know what you can do proactively to help everyone adjust more easily. Let’s take a look at a few change management tips to help you through the transition.
Hire a growth-minded team
Enacting changes within your clinic can be less of a struggle when the team you’ve got in place is open-minded and excited about continual growth. In fact, even when things are status quo, ideally you want forward-thinking people in place who are constantly reevaluating processes and looking for new ways to improve them for the sake of your clients. How can you identify these individuals during the hiring process? Ask specific, probing questions about how candidates have handled change in the past.
Of course, hiring a whole new team may not be feasible. But as long as you’ve got a mixture of personalities that includes a few progressive champions of change, you’ll have a valuable resource for selling proposed change to your other employees. Together, you can come up with a plan that will address and overcome objections and roll out new policies in a way that is as smooth and positive as possible.
Don’t rush things
Successful change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes advanced planning, strategizing and implementation that is best rolled out in increments. Don’t expect your team to be gung ho about a brand new policy without first easing into things. Start by introducing the overall concept of what you’d like to change.
Solicit feedback from your team and use the insight you gain to develop a long-term plan. Then, tackle each step one at a time. The gaps between steps will allow team members to adjust and become more comfortable with what’s happening around them. This will be better for them as well as your clients.
Make communication a top priority
One of the biggest hurdles to change management is lack of communication. When people feel they don’t have an avenue to voice their concerns, ask questions or provide feedback, they tend to become more resistant, making it much more difficult to roll out any proposed changes without incident. You can avoid this by making sure every member of your veterinary team knows they have a direct line of communication and will be kept in the loop throughout the entire process.
Your staff will appreciate knowing what to expect and being able to take part in the important discussions surrounding the proposed change. And in addition to getting more buy-in from your team, the feedback you receive in advance will help you identify potential issues so you can address them proactively and adjust your approach accordingly. Seek feedback from your employees through surveys, team huddles and one-on-one meetings. This will shape a healthy culture of respect and transparency which will ultimately lead to better service for your clients.
Play on each team member’s strengths
When people feel like they are a part of change rather than the victim of it, they’re much more likely to approach things with an open and positive attitude. Remember that while you may be in charge of leading change management initiatives, you’re not working alone. You’ve got a group of highly skilled workers waiting in the wings to help you. Involve them by delegating responsibilities to each employee based on their individual strengths. By including them in the process, your employees will become more invested in your plan’s success.
Change isn’t easy, even when everyone is on board and all-in. Remember to regularly thank your team members for their participation throughout the process and freely give out kudos for a job well done. Take time to spotlight individuals who have gone above and beyond in helping make the transition happen for your practice’s future success. The goal should be to keep morale as high as possible so that at the end of the day, everyone is still as plugged in as they were when the plan began.
Making changes within your veterinary clinic isn’t always going to be easy. In fact, it can be downright challenging. By implementing the above five tips, you’ll help everyone on your team to remain positive, avoid burnout and power through to the bigger and better things that await just over the horizon.
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