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How to Be a Change Agent for Your Practice’s Culture

January 18, 2018

How to Be a Change Agent for Your Practice’s Culture

Physicians, Here's How to be an Influencer

By Doug Bennett, Contributing Writer

Any proposed changes to an organization’s existing culture inevitably conjure the “10/80/10” rule, which states that 10% of employees will actively embrace the change, 80% will be neutral or “fence sitters” and 10% will actively resist or fight the change. This is not surprising because it’s human nature to view change as either an opportunity or a threat, and people respond to change in many different ways: personally, professionally, socially, etc.

Most physician practices and other health organizations have employees who are either naturally skilled at serving as a catalyst for change or who have been explicitly charged with bringing about organizational change, i.e., change agents.

So how do you go about becoming a beneficial change agent in your own practice or health organization?

  • Question the organization’s current structure, policies and culture in a constructive manner. This first step should include interviewing colleagues and managers to develop a sense of where they stand with regard to the practice’s existing cultural norms and any proposed changes to status quo.
  • Be certain to accurately capture in writing what you hear and try to quantify any opinions to the extent possible, e.g., “six out of ten practice employees strongly favor a four-day work week.” Good solid data will help you build a stronger case for change.
  • Build a coalition early on by identifying key decision makers, leaders, experts and others—both inside and outside of your organization—who are supportive of any proposed change processes. Acquiring the support and involvement of others upfront is the very foundation for successfully implementing changes to a medical practice’s culture.
  • Attend seminars and conferences to learn about the latest change management techniques. This will help you avoid common pitfalls and save precious time.
  • Read academic medicine journals to find out which best management practices (BMP’s) other clinical practices or health systems are implementing. There is no better indicator of what to do and what not to do than sizing up the competition to benefit from their lessons already learned.
  • Schedule routine meetings with colleagues, managers and advisory boards to discuss strategies for implementing necessary and appropriate changes in your practice.
  • Create constructive feedback loops to ensure all stakeholders have a voice and are heard. Be certain to acknowledge all opinions—even radical or unpopular ones that aren’t likely to get traction. It’s important for all employees of the practice or organization to feel invested and that their thoughts and opinions have value and are being taken into consideration.

Serving as a change agent enables physicians to share their valuable perspective and play a direct role in positively shaping and transforming the culture in their medical practice, hospital or health system. Merritt Hawkins’ recruiters are ready to share their own extensive experience with placing physicians in rewarding temporary or career positions. Browse through our extensive jobs database and reach out to one of our professional recruiters today.

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