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Create a Sense of Urgency
According to Kotter (2014), creating a sense of urgency during the change process marks the most important step. Notably, successful change requires that a majority of the company’s management “buy into” the change. Mainly, the success in creating a sense of urgency during change determines the success of the whole process. Every staff member has a responsibility to participate in taking appropriate measures that will contribute to the desired change (Solomon 2015). Procrastination is dangerous once the decision for change is of course. The employees should feel the need for action now with goals set to fix the problems in the health center. Specific cases of failure and embarrassment are good references to back up the notion of the anticipated change.
The health facility needs to change from a service-centric to a patient-centric culture. Apparently, the hospital’s policies and culture focus more on service delivery than on health care. Consequently, it registers low patient retention and low return rates. These are clear indications for the urgency of change. Therefore, it is essential that the management holds dialogue with employees and uses efficient communication channels to communicate this need. It can use previous financial statements that prove the decline in income due to a low number of patients.
Build a Guiding Coalition
The change initiative requires a team of self-motivated, committed and competent people to guide coordinate and spearhead change. These individuals should represent both the management and the staff. Action should be based on appropriate on the status of the institution (Kotter 2014). Therefore, a thorough assessment of the current manual system of the health facility will help to identify loopholes that need to be sealed. The team leading change should formulate objectives according to the findings highlighted earlier and observed in the course of the change process. A model for use in the change strategy is adapted as a guide.
Notably, teamwork fosters innovation and creativity amongst employees as unique talents collaborate to spearhead the change process. When the team incorporates both employees and management, it creates a sense of appreciation to subordinate staff. Furthermore, they see the facility values their input in the change process. Consequently, they embrace the change instead of resisting it, increasing the chances of fruitful and timely transition into the new regime and eradicating the challenges of the manual system. Additionally, creating teams that comprise employees from different departments fills all weak areas in the group by introducing diverse talents and ideas.
Form a Strategic Vision & Initiatives
According to Kotter (2014), vision is a high-level idea on which to aim as an organization. It is the best and perfect achievement to achieve in the end. Initiatives are fresh approaches towards realizing the vision. They are unprecedented steps of doing things differently to achieve different results hence the change of strategy. Initiatives should be both at a personal level and corporate level such as departments. The chief executive officer should bear a vision that will inspire the entire staff. The vision should entail global standards of health care provision in the facility and customer attraction. The main benefit of a clear picture is that it creates unity in direction, as all employees understand the goal of the change process. Therefore, they work as a team towards the attainment of this aim.
The medical facility’s vision is to shift from a service-centric culture to a patient-centric culture. The values central to this change include creating a healthy working environment that puts employee and customer satisfaction above financial gain. The strategic plan to achieve this vision is to start by modifying critical policies. First, there is a need to eradicate bullying and disrespect of subordinates by their superiors. Notably, this creates a safe working condition for health practitioners. Second, it is important to create a blame-free culture among the employees, which results in increasing transparency. Third, it is essential that employees create magical and memorable moments as they handle patients with an aim to improve the facility’s customer service. Finally, implementing same day appointments is an efficient strategy to facilitate the achievement of the health center’s vision.
Communicate the Vision
According to Kotter (2014), what the management does with the vision determines its success. The message will have stiff competition from other daily communications within the medical facility. Therefore, it is crucial that the management communicates the vision frequently and to include it within all operations. Notably, it takes more than just ad hoc meetings to communicate the vision. The management will need to use the vision often to make critical decisions and solve problems within the health facility. Similarly, the management has to “walk the talk” (Kotter, 2014) by leading by example.
Key aspects that portray the change towards being patient-centric include employees establishing personal relationships with the patients by showing deeper concern about their wellbeing and that of their family. Similarly, listening to the patients' help health practitioners identify the patients’ needs and thus enable better service delivery. Notably, the staff can start practicing the above by approaching patients instead of the current culture where patients approach doctors. Additionally, showing concern for patients, for instance, by greeting them warmly and answering all their questions play a significant role in efficient service delivery. Evidently, these strategies aim at driving positive change in customer service and patient satisfaction (Solomon, 2015). In this approach, the facility involves patients at every stage of care design and implementation. The staff handles them with care, inform them of their clinical status and progress, and handle their complaints promptly.
Enable Action by Removing Barriers
Some elements of the system in the organization act as barriers that inhibit or hinder progress. Such obstacles include inefficient processes, bureaucracies, and competitive work environment (Kotter 2014). This calls for an overhaul of the entire system to give room for new possibilities. Notably, communication can be a critical barrier in the institution. Weak or unfavorable exchange of information slows down or impedes the operation of the system. Limited communication and lack of feedback lead to inefficiency in service delivery. Mainly, poor communication among the staff members limits coordination. If the management is not approachable, the staff shy away and feel alienated thus affecting service delivery (Solomon 2015). Harsh management demotivates the staff by discouraging them from expressing themselves. More so, this alienation locks out any useful ideas that the healthcare providers would present towards the improvement of the health facility. Therefore, the management should allow free communication with the staff to explore new possibilities.
For instance, there should be telephone connectivity in the entire facility and computer network to make communication fast and convenient. Additionally, it also makes work easier for the clients to get services easily and in a digitized manner. A modernized database gives a precise account of all patients and their medical records and help in planning. Digitizing the inventory makes it the process of procurement and restocking easy. Consequently, installation of new computer systems and security facilities is hampered particularly when the administration is too rigid on expenditure. Communication with the clients and service delivery determines their next course of action (Solomon 2015). Patients who receive satisfactory services bring their friends and relatives into the facility while those who leave with complaints keep off and hinder their relations too. Patients want to feel loved and appreciated as they are. They too want to experience value for their money. Therefore, health services should be free from all discomforts that disturb the patients expelling them away. Physicians and nurses should uphold the highest standards of professionalism to deliver best services (Solomon 2015). They should also address the patients and their caretakers with courtesy and utmost respect regardless of their backgrounds and personality. The staff should be self-controlled because the patients have different temperaments; some are calm and understanding while others are violent and insolent. The team ought to interrogate the patients out of concern to help them recover easily.
Generate Short-term Wins
Managers should acknowledge achievements no matter how small they are (Kotter 2014). The progress that is recognized at the initial levels builds on to greater goals. For example, the management should document customer feedback on the change process, particularly, improved service delivery following the introduction of same-day appointments upon requests. Similarly, using a small department as a case study and implementing patient-centric strategies and reporting on its achievement can be a good example of a short-term win to other staff. The management then communicates the progress to other employees to challenge them to embrace the change (Solomon 2015). This feedback motivates the staff to persist and create a culture of healthy competition. Furthermore, an important win is a shared success, and this builds cohesion and teamwork.
The change team should use the first achievements as a platform to move higher and catapult the institution to an entirely new level of success. According to Kotter (2014), the management should consider improving the systems, policies, and structures of this health facility to support acceleration. For example, fostering and holding various staff forums with an aim to collect new ideas and show the progress of the change process can ensure the implementation of the patient-centered vision remains on course. Similarly, availing necessary financial resources sustains acceleration of the change process. Notably, change takes place gradually and sustainably at a relentless pace until the vision becomes a reality. Maintaining progress in the change process ensures that the health facility achieves its vision within the set period. Additionally, building on what goes right and identifying areas that need improvement facilitates the introduction of new ideas crucial in attaining the vision efficiently.
This stage involves implementing the new reality by integrating new strategies into the reformed system of the institution. The initiatives come with new approaches to the organizational structure, planning, and processes that require new perspectives by the staff. Change is multifaceted and in whatever dimension it takes external factors to influence it (Kotter 2014). The dynamics of technology and lifestyle today determine the kind of change strategies to employ. For example, the emerging diseases such as HIV and rising cases of cancer demand increased confidentiality and safety in handling patient information. An organization-based initiative is relevant considering the particular challenge with which the medical facility is grappling. The latest technology is significant in service delivery (Solomon 2015). The healthcare facility should, therefore, receive and embrace this new development as soon as the management approves it for the application. The initiative team implements change from top to bottom affecting all structures of the institution. New policies should accompany the structural changes to sustain the momentum of transformation (Solomon 2015). If change is instituted, the health facility will shift from poor service delivery to heartfelt provision of patient-centric service.
Kotter, J., 2014. Accelerate (XLR8): 8- Step Process for Leading Change. Harvard Business Review Press.
Solomon, P. 2015. Will Thinking Like Apple Change the Healthcare Customer Service Paradigm?, [online] Miramedgs.com. Available at: http:// www.miramedgs.com/career/43-focus/past-issues/winter-2016/458-will-thinking-like-apple-change-the-healthcare-customer-service-paradigm. [Accessed 26 Mar 2017].
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