Editor-in-Chief; Senior Vice President and Chief Nurse Officer, Meridian Health System, Neptune, N.J.
Turn “enemies” into allies by including staff members in the decision-making process.
Change is inevitable...The question is: Are you ready for it? In today's fast-paced world, transformation is happening in every aspect of our lives—from the ever-evolving technology that holds us forever behind and racing to keep up with tomorrow to the evidence-based research that steers healthcare through a constant state of regenerating policies to ensure that we're providing quality care to our patients. Although some of us might fight to hang on to the way things “used to be done,” others embrace the revolving door of change.
With nurses working longer into their careers, there's a more noticeable hesitance among them to accept transitions. Even if research shows that some healthcare practices need to change, the older generation of nurses may resist new policies. Evidence-based practices, the move to accountable care organizations and new models of care, and the shift toward a paperless healthcare environment present seasoned nurses with challenges they might not immediately embrace. “It's not how we used to do things” or “one more thing to learn” may sound all too familiar.
To facilitate and affect positive change, you must set the example of a change agent. The truth? Staff members, particularly experienced staff, respond to practice changes as a threat to their comfort and confidence. Often, this fear will present itself as being inflexible or even hostile, and the result can be harmful to the overall culture of the organization. By including staff members in the decision-making process, you can turn “enemies” into allies and reduce anxiety and resistance to change.
Most important, change doesn't need to be perceived as negative. With coaching and mentoring, it can become a new opportunity to achieve greatness. The secret to success? It's all in the presentation. When we welcome change as a familiar process that can positively affect our practice, we empower our staff members to do the same.
Change is always around the corner. Be prepared by understanding the reasons your staff members react the way they do and help them shore up for future developments.