Getting Staff to Buy In to Change Communicate clearly, gain staff support and hold employees accountable BY ROBERT KURTZ


aining staff support is essential for a change to achieve its desired outcome, says Don Bartnick, chief executive officer of Annapolis Sur- gery Center in Annapolis, Maryland, and Maryland Eye Surgery Center in Prince Frederick, Maryland. “Staff are the people who must implement the change you are trying to drive,” he says. “ Staff can actually scut- tle a change if they do not believe in it.” When staff buy into a change, they are more likely to offer ideas, he says. “This can improve upon concepts the manager provides and help ensure the change is appropriately executed.” To achieve such a level of engage- ment requires managers to include staff in discussions concerning the change, says LoAnn Vande Leest, RN, CASC, chief executive offi- cer of Northwest Michigan Surgery Center in Traverse City, Michigan. “Communication is vital, especially with end users. Include end users in the design process and listen to their ideas and rationale.” Her ASC’s staff has helped achieve a number of positive improvements over the past several

years, Vande

Leest says. They include the launch- ing of a total joint program, a major remodeling project and implementa- tion of overnight stays. Since ASCs are a hotbed of activity, it can be easy for staff members to lose sight of the importance of supporting a change. Bartnick says this is when appealing to a superordinate princi- ple—an action or aspiration toward a higher goal that everyone can agree on—may be beneficial. “At every staff meeting, I repeat the goals we are striving to achieve,” he says. “For example, we will say a goal is to incorporate a new technol-

Communication is vital, especially with end users. Include end users in the design process and listen to their ideas and rationale.”

— LoAnn Vande Leest, RN, CASC Northwest Michigan Surgery Center

ogy in pain management and imple- ment a new strategy and procedure. I explain the reasons for this goal, such as reducing pain in the population of patients we service and improving cost-effective health care in Mary- land. When I can get my staff to embrace the goals, then I have laid the groundwork for the change necessary to achieve them.” Once you talk the talk, you need

to walk the walk, Vande Leest notes. “Expectations should be established up front, and everyone must be held accountable if you want to keep the process running smoothly.”

If you encounter pushback, Bart- nick says, it is important to deter-


mine why and then work to resolve concerns. “This is when I may con- sider ‘individualized bargains.’ I might negotiate with someone who says a change is going to be a burden. It may require a small pay bump if a change will expand job responsibilities or sending someone to a seminar for edu- cation and training.” If such efforts are unsuccessful in

gaining buy-in, managers might need to exercise their authority to drive the change forward, he notes. “One should not be afraid to do so when it is neces- sary and appropriate. Just be aware that the exercise could backfire and result in other behaviors that are undesirable.”

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