By Sanjeev Bhatia, Clinic Operations Expert
You’re simply not getting the type of results you want so you decide to make some changes at the clinic.
Then you roll your eyes and think about the potential challenges and difficulty that’s going to come from staff.
As a clinic operations expert, I’ve worked with hundreds of therapists, front desk staff, managers, cross functional teams, and executives – and yes, I know change is difficult. But it’s necessary.
If you don’t get staff to ‘buy-in’ and have the changes ‘stick’ then there is no hope to properly run and grow your business.
If you don’t make improvements to your business, inevitably it would fail.
Today I’m here to share five key strategies to get that “buy-in” from your staff members so they not only accept the changes but commit to them long term. And you’ll be surprised at how easy these are to implement, you simply need to know what they are.
What you don’t want is to have an initiative that starts but eventually stops, then starts and stops again, eventually ending in some type of workaround. If you can’t get your team motivated to integrate the changes you intend to implement, your plans to grow your business end in dismal failure.
The ability to execute with your teams is definitely the key attribute to change. That’s why we’re here to discuss how you can overcome these challenges
We’re going to cover 5 strategic methods to ensure your team “buys-in” to what you want and sustains the changes.
5 Strategic Methods to Ensure Your Team “Buys-in”
#1: Tell Them Why
Change is difficult so it’s important you inform you staff about why change is needed. It’s human nature to be opposed or hesitant to change. But it’s made more difficult if we don’t understand why it’s occurring.
Remember, your staff aren’t robots. They are people with real feelings and concerns.
Let’s just say you’re trying to improve patient engagement so people stop dropping off before they complete their treatment plans. So you’ll be implementing new systems for patient communications and follow up, along with cross communications between clinicians and front desk staff.
You’d tell the staff directly why, which could be something along the lines of: “We are putting in a series of performance initiatives that will engage patients more. We want to offer the best patient experience and treatments so we can have people excited and optimistic about their appointments and keep them engaged in their entire treatment plan.”
And when working on performance initiatives with staff, one very important thing to remember is that it’s about supporting them to make improvements, not pointing out faults with each person. The best way to approach it is to explain why the change is needed and how it will benefit the organization and the team. Emphasize that you will all be working together to make things easier, more efficient and better for patients.
#2: Speak Their Language
Recapping each staff member’s roles and showing empathy is always important when talking about change. It helps people understand where they are now and where their role in the clinic will go in terms of the suggested changes – they will be curious to understand, how much it will change, will there be a lot more work involved, and how exactly it will benefit them.
Be understanding and appreciative and speak to them in their language.
Tell them how important their role is, how much you appreciate all their efforts, and it’s for these reasons that you’ll continue to support them and invest in their career.
#3: What’s In It For Them
Change usually involves your staff learning a new skill. For clinicians, capturing patient commitment at assessment is about learning how to ask questions, show empathy, and get to the real reason the person came in. There is a difference between a patient saying they want to improve their shoulder range versus they have a tennis tournament at their club in 3 months and want to improve their serve.
The reality is, you’ll be expecting your team to invest in learning so you need to explain what’s in it for them – the benefits.
The message to staff should be – the training and skills they’ll be learning is something they will be able to take with them in life and in their careers. It will not only benefit them now but well into the future.
#4: Give A Little Bit of Feedback Every Day
It is better to provide quick feedback regularly rather than wait a month to provide your comments and thoughts on how they are doing. The more you engage in providing regular feedback, the faster your team will know the value of their efforts, or on the other hand, where they may need to focus more attention.
Here’s a trick I often use: Create 3 recurring calendar reminders each day that direct you to ask about what they are experiencing while implementing the process.
For example, at 9am each day I get a reminder to ask front desk staff how they are going with booking at least 6 patient bookings all at once. If they have concerns, I address them and provide practical tips based on the strategic plan I have given them.
At 12pm I get another reminder to spend 5-10 minutes over lunch speaking to the clinicians about their communication with patients during treatments and getting them committed to signing off on their treatment plans.
Last, at 5pm I get a final calendar reminder to spend another 5 minutes to send a quick email to everyone sharing the wins and challenges of the day, so we can all work together to find solutions and keep tweaking our new system.
On top of regular daily check ins, once a week I set a 20 minute meeting where everyone can attend, even if the phone goes to voicemail during this time. At the meeting, we review our targets, listen to concerns, share thoughts and solutions, and role play a couple new patient scenarios.
The point is, don’t just leave it to chance. Be sure to structure a way to provide regular and consistent feedback.
#5: Give The Team Incentives
Team incentives are a great way to keep initiative targets in focus. Think about small ways you can reward the staff for their efforts.
Incentives could be lunches, movies, vouchers, dinners, a massage or a box of chocolates – small gestures that will make your team feel appreciated.
If you really want to drive change, you need to measure performance and tie this into their compensation plans. It’s a huge driving factor.
Though your team may resist the change initially, once they see how much their efforts improve the outcomes of the clinic and see that patients are committing to their treatment plans until the end, they’ll be excited to continue developing their skills
Sanjeev Bhatia is a PT clinic operations expert with extensive experience working across a wide range of highly successful clinic networks.