• Jackie Schletter

Rough Seas? Hoist Your Sail of Conviction

This post is for the veterinary professionals that consider themselves, or would like to be seen as, a "change agent". Office managers, practice managers, owner veterinarians, and anyone else that is part of a veterinary practice I am giving you a shout out today! I would like to talk briefly about the challenge of change, evolution and implementation. There are mountains of articles and weeks of CE we can do to help us learn about implementing our ideas. Often times it just isn't easy. Stay true to your convictions when the storms blow in.

FIrst, lets define what a change agent is. says it beautifully. A change agent is a person from inside or outside of an organization who helps the organization transform itself by focusing on such matters as organization effectiveness, improvement and development. The most wonderful thing about a change agent from the inside is it can be ANYONE on your team. It takes just one person to stand up and say "let's all get on the same page to make this practice the cats meow." I know, I know ....

Change is difficult, not changing is fatal. Glenn Llopis wrote an excellent article in Forbes talking about the necessity for leaders to embrace this role. I think however we do not focus often enough on discussing the rocky road and resistance leaders encounter when trying to keep a practice on the forward path of much needed evolution. Read Glenn's article here.

It can be so easy to come up with great new ideas as a team and as individuals but implementation is always the difficult hurdle to clear. As the saying goes, if I had a nickel for every time I heard a team member say ... "we used to do it that way but it just kind of fell off....", I'd be golfing every day, not blogging! Even when the team invents and discusses a process improvement, creates the new protocol, puts it in writing and vows to follow it I still see failure to comply. It turns out that just as it takes only one person to be your change agent, it takes only one to sabotage change.

When I encounter resistance or just plain old lack of GAS (give a s**t), I do an internal double check and make sure I am following my compass. Here is where I have landed on the times that I have had such trouble with implementation that I felt the need to light the incense and go to a zen place.

1. Did I explain how the change or evolution was going to be a benefit to X, Y or Z?

2. Did I provide tools and education to the staff to help implement the change?

3. Did I allow the staff to express concerns and ask questions regarding the change?

4. Did I ask the staff for alternative ideas or for them to create a solution of their own if my

solution was not embraced?

5. Did I provide follow up meetings, training and gently remind when the change wasn't followed?

6. If the change wasn't happening, did I revisit the need? Maybe I think it is important but if the team didn't find value in it then maybe it's not the right for the team.

7. Can I identify one team member that is resisting, or is the entire team showing disinterest?

8. Finally, when the "new way" was still not in place, did I ask the team, or team member to explain to me why? Did I find the answer a reasonable explanation?

If I feel I have done all of the right things and the process is not evolving due to lack of GAS, then I start looking for new team members. One thing I will not do is veer from what I know makes a practice successful when the 2 foot waves turn in to 10 foot swells. Hoist your sail of conviction my friend and sail into the sunset of success.

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