The Change Process
There are three main stages to the change process. These are summarised below:
- Initiation – The process leading up to the change.
- Implementation – The first experiences of change.
- Continuation – The changes become embedded.
Key elements of initiating change
You will need to analyse the situation before you think about suggesting changes.
- Do people recognise the need for change? The presentation of your audit results should be used to
notify people of the need for change and to ‘sell’ to them your recommendations for change.
- Sometimes people will readily recognise the need for change, perhaps there have been a series of critical incidents in a particular area, whereas on other occasions you may need to highlight the importance of change.
- Willingness to change varies from person to person. For example, someone who has been working in a particular clinical area for a short period of time might be more open to the idea of change than someone who has been working there for a longer period.
How To: Implement Change Successfully
- You may need to sell your proposal. An important factor to bear in mind is that, whilst staff will be interested in what the proposed changes might mean for their customers, they will probably be most concerned about the implications for them personally.
- People respond to different stimuli when it comes to thinking about change. For some, a shared vision of the future will suffice. Others will want to be persuaded by facts and figures.
- There may be individuals who will only change practice if a reward or penalty is at stake. Use power or influence where you can.
- The majority of any group will accept changes in response to the action of opinion leaders i.e. people who are well respected. It is therefore important to have opinion leaders on your side; this is particularly true if potential barriers to the proposed change are cultural ones relating to existing routines or practices.
Useful tools for change analysis
Before implementing change, you may need to devise a strategic plan.
- Have past experiences of similar situations/changes coloured people’s views?
- Is management supportive?
- How unacceptable/undesirable is the current situation perceived to be?
- Are there fears about increased workload?
- Is there pressure for change from customers?
- Are there national policy requirements you must comply with?
Assuming you have won your colleagues over to the idea of the proposed change, you will now want to implement it. You may need to plan the implementation phase, even if it is simply a question of purchasing a piece of equipment.
You may need to break down the changes into manageable tasks and achievable targets. Crucially, it also means communicating e.g. informing staff about what is going on and consulting them for their own ideas.
Different objectives require different methods of communication.
It is therefore important to consider whether or not there is a need for training and development, e.g. organising briefings/ workshops.
You might decide to pilot the change, e.g. implement it for a fixed period of time before reviewing the situation; this is particularly important if you need to demonstrate the benefits to previously unconvinced staff.
Even if you manage to get changes implemented, it does not mean they will stay implemented. People sometimes slip back into the old ways of working. Once again, communication is crucial. Provide staff with evidence that the changes have had a positive impact, through a re-audit. If other staff are slow to come on board with the changes, is management encouraging them to move their position? After all it is not only important to keep people informed, your also need to keep management on side.