By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
With the new year often comes change. The first step to establish a change-oriented culture in your healthcare call center is to minimize employee fears towards change. Employees can accept change if: 1) the change is incremental or small, 2) they have a degree of input or control over the change, and 3) the change is clearly understood by all.
The key to this is communication. Address change head on. For every change, employees wonder how it will affect them. Is their position in jeopardy? Might you cut their hours or change their shift? Maybe they’ll need to work harder. Perhaps you’ll ask them to do something they find unpleasant. What happens if they can’t learn new skills?
These are all worries about the unknown. As with most worries, the majority of them will never happen, but with a lack of reliable information and management assurances, these irrational worries dominate everyone’s thoughts.
Communication must also be ongoing; not to key staff, but to all staff; not by one method, but many: group meetings, internal blogs, memos, and one-on-one discussions. An open-door policy helps, too. Also critical is a positive, unwavering attitude from leadership. Celebrate milestones, thank the staff at each step, and provide rewards at the end.
Taking these steps sends a strong signal to the staff. Even though the change may still concern them, they’ll take comfort knowing they have accurate information about what will likely happen. And for each successful change, the next one becomes easier to bring about.
You’ll know you’ve created a change-friendly organization when your employees grow bored with the status quo and anticipate the next change. At this point, the potential of your call center balloons, your staff grows as individuals, and the future beckons. No one knows what that future will entail, only that things will change for the better. So, sit back, and enjoy the ride as an agent of change.