How to Deal With Staff Who Are Resistant to Change

People, in general, are resistant to change.  More than ever, people are being labeled with Neophobia or “fear of anything new, and it can be an especially persistent and abnormal fear. In its milder form, it can manifest as the unwillingness to try new things or break from routine.” 

As the leader of your private practice, it is your job to keep your staff focused on the reasons why you do what you do, and the products and results you’re getting because of this. If you start on day one to onboard every employee emphasizing that your company culture is to continually strive to be the best not only at what you do but who you are, then you are setting the stage for an environment of dynamic change. 

You Are Only as Successful as the Whole Group

Start by communicating that the individual members of a group are only as successful as the group itself. No sports team has ever won a championship because of just one superstar teammate. The team evolves and develops over time, never settling on where they were yesterday to be good enough.  

Empowering your staff allows you to innovate and expand while improving efficiency and productivity throughout your practice. This results in winning for everyone. It’s only when the staff member has the “what’s in it for me” attitude that they buck the system and become resistant to change. It’s easier for staff members to keep doing what they have always done, rather than learn something new.  

If this sounds like something you’re experiencing, you have either hired the wrong person or you have not done an excellent job of communicating expectations to them. As an employee, it is their role to embrace business development in the areas of innovation and training.  All change should be directed at improving their skills for greater proficiency and improving the ability to achieve the products of the business. 

Communicating Change 

How do you deal with employees that weren’t correctly communicated to from the start? Well, it’s never too late. Here’s how: 

Communicate to the Group as a Whole

Hold a full company staff meeting and be fully transparent regarding where the business is performing today in accordance with the industry metrics. Make the case for the need to change and introduce the tools at hand to bring about this change. Your staff is only required to be willing to execute the changes. Be understanding that change isn’t always easy. Remind them to focus on the company’s purpose and products, not the individual job duties.

Everyone has a job to do but the meaning behind that job is to produce a better product or service, or in the physical therapy industry – create an overwhelmingly positive patient care experience. For this to happen, there needs to be a balance between productivity, efficiency, and innovation to remain a leader ahead of the costs associated with doing business. Let them know that this task falls on your shoulders as the CEO and you only want to work with the most willing and able people possible. You want a team who takes pride in the success of the group not just their part in the group. What is the highest good for the greatest number of people involved is typically going to be the right solution every time? 

Communicate to Everyone One-on-One 

Once you have held the all-hands staff meeting and made everyone aware of the changes to come, you then need to sit down with each member. Prepare them with a new status sheet laying out the expectations you have for them in exchange for what you are offering them as an employee of your group.  

Be open and honest and clear with them so there is no confusion, don’t leave that meeting without agreement. Let them know you will be establishing weekly and or monthly targets that will be based on their performance – their success or failure is totally up to them. One thing is for sure, you cannot manage effectively over a disagreement, and why would you want to?  

For example, many practice owners that we work with know the value in professionally enhancing their staff’s skill sets. With a higher trained team of employees, more gets done in less time, with less effort. Unfortunately, not all people think they are in need of improvement, nor do they value the generosity being bestowed on them by their employer to enhance their skills.  

It is your responsibility as the CEO to protect the team from those who may not be on board with the group’s purpose. Make it clear that you want everyone to succeed, but you know these changes may not be right for everyone. You need (and deserve) them to be honest about their position and their willingness to be on board with the changes. The success of the group depends on this. 

Being open, honest and transparent is always the best way to manage. Take it one step at a time and be clear with your staff about your goals and purpose, and hopefully, they will be the same back with you. 

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