How to Prepare Staff for Changes in the Practice

Change can be downright scary, especially in industries like Periodontics where things tend to relatively stay the same (including the office furniture!). If you’re like most practices, the mere mention of changing something is enough to send staff members into a frenzy. You can rest assured they’ll have an opinion about it, even they are not comfortable enough to tell you what it is. 

As the Periodontist, you’re ultimately in charge of deciding when change is necessary. But the reality is that you still need to earn staff buy-in if whatever it is you’re changing is to be effective. 

Whether you’re changing the scheduling process or something that saves you numerous hours per week like adding PANDA Perio to your operations, you can put the following tips into practice to get your staff prepared, and maybe even excited:

#1 - Announce Changes Before You Roll Out

Moving right into a major change without warning is setting your staff up for failure. It catches them off guard and could pull their focus from other responsibilities, which could result in poor patient care. 

Give your staff a heads up before moving forward with a major change (e.g. adding PANDA Perio to your lineup). This not only helps them mentally prepare but also gives them a chance to ask questions. Take the time to meet with them and give them your full attention.  Help them gain insight as to what you are thinking and the key reasons behind the need for change to eliminate the assumption you are simply  “updating” something arbitrarily.  

#2 - Set the Right Expectations

Be prepared for your staff to ask why you’re making changes. It affects the way they’ve always done things, which means something new to learn and get used to, and some of them won’t like it. Some might feel rushed to adopt the changes quickly. Others will ask about training. And yes, you may even have a few that will think the sky is falling and start fearing for their jobs. 

You can avoid these and other headaches by outlining your expectations. For example, if you’re bringing PANDA Perio on board, let your team know there’s an expected learning period and that they will not be persecuted if they make a mistake or experience difficulties at first. Reassure them that you are committed to taking the time for proper training.  At the same time, you can emphasize the benefits and value it will bring to the practice and how they can expect to gain a new skill set while improving overall practice efficiency. 

Also, don’t forget to talk about what won’t change. Often, staff will assume that one change means everything is changing, when, it’s probably a tiny piece of the puzzle. 

The key is to eliminate redundancy and focus on what’s new to minimize their workload. Often the fear relates to the false assumption that more work will be created instead of eliminating redundancy. Identifying the process from a big picture perspective and how change streamlines overall workflow will help to alleviate the fear of work being compounded.  

#3 - Encourage Learning

Your staff should have questions, so encourage them to ask!  Help them to understand your vision behind the changes you’re making and show them how they’ll be better off as a result. 

What you don’t want to do is spend time negotiating with them on implementing change or exploring other options. Instead, focus your time on education to bring them up to speed. The change will cease to progress if you’re stuck spinning your wheels on trying to gain buy-in or tiptoe around negative opinions based on false narratives. 

Simply put, staff response to change will affect how quickly changes are adopted and how well your desires are carried out. Though most Periodontists operate under the mentality that staff should just do what they feel is right, you’ll find it a lot easier to make the shift when you help them identify there may be a better way. It shows you care about their wellbeing and want to do everything in your power to help them learn and grow. 

For more office insights, head back to the PANDA blog.

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