By Debra Wiggs, FACMPE, V2V Founder
Face it, the only place most people want change is from a vending machine. It’s in our nature. A part of our brains, called the amygdala, perceives change as a threat. In response, it sets out to protect us by releasing flight or fight hormones. While this is invaluable in life and death situations, it has no place in the business of your practice. Fortunately, there are steps you can take right now to calm the perceived threat of change.
Changing the culture of ‘supposed to do’
First, it’s important to realize so much of what we do every single day is born in culture and not necessarily in need or fact. The old adage of “we’ve always done it that way” simply isn’t true. If you think about it, our normal was someone else’s change. For me to do the things I do today, someone else had to change the process. I think that’s something we have to be aware of. But people in an organization often cling to the culture of “supposed to do.” They don’t recognize that today’s “supposed to” really isn’t.
A fascinating representation of this was depicted in—of all things—a recent episode of the television program, New Amsterdam. In the episode, the administrator walked around the hospital and found many employees who weren’t “working.” That is, their work didn’t add anything to the organization. Or they were wasting time waiting for someone’s direction.
Thinking beyond your perceptions
Identifying these inefficiencies may be easy. The challenge is how to make others recognize these fallacies and embrace the need for change. The problem is we actually become committed to our tasks. Tasks become part of our identities. And as leaders we often erroneously reinforce the belief that tasks define success. During a time of transformation, we as practice leaders have an opportunity to encourage people to think beyond their program. People do better with this when they feel they have permission to contribute to the change, rather than having change imposed on them.
Promoting a culture of inquiry
Which brings us back to culture. Culture can make or break a transformation. To assess your culture, ask yourself this: Does your organization promote a culture of inquiry, and a climate of trust and validation? This implies that you as a leader are not keeping yourself behind a closed door. It involves you giving people the opportunity to ask questions.
A culture of inquiry begins with you simply allowing your team to ask questions, while you actively listen. The next step, of course, is to follow up with meaningful answers. Welcoming employee concerns will benefit you as well. Because they have different perspectives, their questions may shine a light on where new opportunities lie. These opportunities could include something you hadn’t realized, something that may help define and even improve tomorrow’s normal, today.