Dear Hanna Mae
BY HANNA MAE GUMMENT (AKA SUE CONNELLY, FCLSA, AND URSULA LOTZKAT)
The doctor whom I work for always comes back from conventions with new ideas that he wants to implement in the practice. It's frustrating because he's trying to fix things that work just fine. How
that obviously work just fine. How can we get him to stop this?
-- Status Quo is Fine
Dear Fine, I understand that change makes some people simply weak in the knees, forcing them outside of their comfort zone. If you feel this way, then keep in mind that change isn't always a bad thing and can quite often be a good thing. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn't mean it's the best way to do it. Goodness, if everyone believed that, we'd still be using quill pens by candlelight! Remember, when someone looks at your job with a fresh pair of eyes, it can uncover things that you may have missed -- simply because you're so familiar with it.
Could that be another reason why you don't want things to change? Because it comes from a fresh, outside pair of eyes? When someone from the "outside" tries to make changes that impact your tasks or work space, it can seem as much like an invasion as an offer of help. (And yes, a discussion and a team approach created with everyone's input should take place before changes do.)
But, if the doctor makes a suggestion to help you, or more importantly, to make things easier for patients (and that's our real goal, now isn't it?), then keep an open mind to these new ideas. Don't dig in your heels simply because an idea is different or was suggested by someone else. You could be missing out on a great way to make your job easier, less stressful or simply more fun!
Dear Hanna Mae, I'm always re-energized when I return from a convention with new ideas and want to share them with my staff. But whenever I want to implement new systems in the office, I face a lot of resistance. How can I get my staff to accept this?
--Love to Shake Things Up
Dear Shake, it's encouraging to see people come away from conventions with more than a bad sunburn and mini hotel shampoos. And you should be applauded for continuing to try and improve the systems and procedures in your office. So if we assume that the ideas are good, then what could possibly be the reason for your staff resisting when you present them? Well, as they say, every story always has two sides ...
Perhaps the resistance comes not from the ideas that you suggest, but from how you suggest these ideas to your staff. When you make a suggestion that impacts someone else's work system, work space or comfort level, it's vital that you first bring them into the loop. (Yes, you're the boss and you can change whatever you'd like, but, if the rest of the office doesn't follow through, it really isn't changed, now is it?) Remember, these important team members are the ones who'll understand the job and space you want to change. You may be the expert in eye care, but they're the experts in their jobs and you should treat them with that same amount of courtesy and respect. Make them part of the process.
Assure your staff members that you're committed to working with them to implement the
change(s) and that you'll also work through the inevitable bugs that you encounter. Continue with your great energy and enthusiasm, but create a team effort so both sides of the boat are pulling together. It's the only way to get anywhere and this approach also eliminates going in circles!
Please submit your human management questions to
firstname.lastname@example.org. Authors of letters printed in the column will all remain anonymous and in the strictest confidence. Cross our hearts . . .
Ms. Hanna Mae Gumment has gone through a number of changes herself this past year. She recently moved to a lovely new home, adopted a
low-carb lifestyle (except for the occasional brownie) and just every once in a while wears her hair
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: September 2004