5 things to remember when making changes

Welcome to 2016.

Welcome to 2016.

It’s a new year, and you probably have some changes you want to make. Some of those changes may even be in your practice. Whether you want to make small changes, like how you answer the phone, or large changes, like how you manage clinical workflow, a plan is necessary to both enact and sustain change. This blog will take you through some basic change management ideas to help you get started.

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No person is an island

Just like you don’t practice in a vacuum, you don’t manage your practice alone. There are many contributors, including other staff and dentistry professionals. So when you think about making a change, ask yourself, “How will this affect the others I work with and in what way? How will they be able to support or champion me, and what concerns might they have with new procedures, systems and protocol?" Remember, a good employee is an expert at his or her job and may be able to offer insight into why certain problems occur and what solutions might be best to address these issues.

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Build a plan

Without a roadmap regarding how to achieve your goals, it will be difficult to implement the tools and best practices you wish to enact. A plan is important, especially when the change is difficult and you may be met with some resistance or concern. Ensure you have mile markers and check-ins to examine your progress and see what is still left to be done. But don’t be afraid to change your road plan if you encounter unexpected obstacles. Being flexible allows you to adapt as you work through new challenges.

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In cases of change, members who are affected by decisions will be hungry for information and may have fears about the outcome and process of the changes. They will want to know the expectations and plan so they can adapt accordingly and model their behaviors in new ways. Communication is key to both engaging your team and making sure tit is on board with transitions.

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Change takes time

Enacting permanent change can take time even for small adjustments in how you run your practice. Part of the reason is that we form habits that affect how we practice and go about our work. Be prepared to set a timeline that allows all parties involved to make changes and adjust behaviors. Also allow for the time you need to develop tools to make changes, like new phone scripts, and then practice enacting them with skill and finesse. Reinforce positive results and address shortfalls.

Success is not the end

Just because you have enacted change does not mean the journey is over. Old habits are easy to revert back to, and your change may not always achieve the desired end result. Periodically check in to ensure continued engagement with your issue.

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