Tuesday, July 23, 2024
Meetings and Conferences

How poor change management leads to conflict

Change is inevitable if your organisation is to maintain competitiveness and currency of practice – but you need to plan carefully to introduce change if you want to avoid generating conflict. Read on to learn more about how to succeed with change – and what to avoid?

Imagine Sara works in an optical practice. She is one of a team, she has been there for 15 years and she likes her role on reception. She knows all the patients and greets them by name. She does a great job in ensuring that patients get the appointments they need and the optometrists’ clinics are fully booked. She hears that the practice manager is doing a course in management, but doesn’t think much of it until the manager starts to make changes. First, it’s the rota. Sara has been working the same pattern for the last few years and it suits her family responsibilities, but now she wants everyone to start and end at different times. Then, it’s Sara’s responsibilities. “Have you thought about taking a training course?” the manager asks, “We’d like you to take on more of a clinical role.” When Sara gets home she says to her partner, “Things aren’t the same at work and I’m not sure I like it!”.

If you are managing a business or a team, do your members of staff welcome change or do they resent it? It can be frustrating when what seems like a small change to enhance productivity causes resentment but this happens all too often. While you may understand why you are suggesting a change and how it will benefit the business, does the team understand? And are they bought into improving the business in the same was as you are – or do they like their job to remain the same?

Change brings up all sorts of emotions in people, and going through change can see people feeling angry, confused or disempowered. As a manager its your job to help your team through this process. To start, make sure that you discuss the changes with the team. Whether it is a new idea you have had, or something imposed on you, take time to talk about it. Sara might feel differently about the rota change if she had a chance to listen to why it is being done, and also explain that on three days a week she has to collect her granddaughter from school so needs to finish by 2.30. If she understands that staggering start times means that there are more people available when the practice is busiest she will be able to see that this might, in fact, make her job easier over lunchtimes when sometimes patients have to queue. Reassure her that she can still leave at the same time on the days she collects her granddaughter, and you’ll find Sarah is in favour of the new rota after all.

Sometimes many changes happen in quick succession, which can leave people feeling that their workplace is a different place to what they are used to. Uncertainty can make people cling onto old ways. If the practice is looking to upskill receptionists so they can carry out pre-screening under supervision, this can seem like a big step for the individuals involved. It might be a good idea to have a training session where the optometrist and dispensing optician explain pre-screening to staff, before outlining how to get more involved. That gives team members the chance to understand what they might be doing before they commit. Different people adapt to change and take on new challenges at different paces. As a manager remember to allot enough time to talk to people and listen to their concerns when introducing any sort of change.

If you would like to know more about managing change, ABDO offers a short course that has been designed to enable you to get an overview of the types of and reasons for change within organisations. It will enable you to select and apply some theoretical models for change management. Get to grips with change to improve your business in the short online course.