A few decades ago, change management success boiled down to phrases like, “Just do it!” or “Tough it out!” This kind of energy may have worked for short-term motivation, but it lacks the ability to inspire ongoing effort and address employee concerns. People want to know what’s in it for them when it comes to new workflows and expectations.
Today, change management is about effective listening and communication with your team—a strategy popularized by GE’s Change Acceleration Process. In times of change, employees are likely worried about job security or status and may not see why the change is necessary. Helping your team move from the current state to the improved future state requires managerial and structural support.
There are two questions your organization needs to answer before enacting change management:
- Have we listened to employees and understood their pain points?
- How will we communicate what we need each team to do?
This process doesn’t happen automatically—it needs to be proactive and intentional. We’ve identified 6 strategies that are essential for change management success.
1. Engage senior leadership.
One key indicator of effective change management is engagement from senior leadership. This is especially true when implementing new workflow technology or replacing a core administrative system. But what does it mean for leadership to be engaged?
To start, company leaders should be talking about the coming changes. Employees need to know why the changes are strategically important. Sharing this information helps them understand why adapting is worth the effort and gives them a sense of purpose beyond simply being told to adapt.
An objective way to measure engagement is by using the “calendar test.” Are executives attending project steering committee or other informative meetings? If not, it’s important to make sure they start. They should be able to speak about the ongoing project and understand how the implementation is progressing. This is also beneficial so senior leaders can see and appreciate the hard work middle managers and other employees are doing to ensure change management success.
2. Outline why change is necessary.
A common misstep that health plans make is assuming that employees know why you’re making this change. Many people won’t understand the need for new technologies or workflows when the original way seemed to work just fine. Your company leaders should be able to articulate the impacts in a way that helps employees feel involved in the decision-making process.
In what areas do you anticipate the most benefit from new systems? That could be paying claims faster or more accurately, complying with state audits, or modernizing legacy systems. Sometimes, the existing technology just isn’t viable any longer and can’t be properly maintained over time. Your employees want to work toward solving an important problem—so give them the information and motivation they need to do so.
3. Communicate the company vision.
Now that your employees and executives understand why change is necessary for your health plan, what is the vision for your organization over the next few years? Paint your team a compelling picture of the future state and where the company is headed. Ideally, your vision contains wording that speaks to both your team’s minds (i.e. intellect) and their hearts (i.e. emotion).
Make sure your team knows that with new technologies comes a chance to improve individual skills and maximize what they’re able to accomplish. In the case of HealthRules Payer, for example, the platform automatically handles adjudication and reviews for errors. This vastly reduces the need for manual reviews, giving employees time to focus on more complex, impactful tasks only they can do.
4. Gain internal commitment.
Encouraging your employees to commit to the change process is about more than education and passive acceptance. Identifying early adopters and internal influencers can be vital for gaining widespread support. These individuals already support the new adoption, which makes it easier for them to be engaged early in the project . They can then become a resource for other employees who have questions or need support during the process.
It is also beneficial to identify who might be resistant to change within your organization. Generally, areas of resistance fall into three categories: technical, political, and cultural. You don’t necessarily need to convert them into supporters, but it’s important to know why they might be hesitant and address their concerns so they’re not constantly pumping the brakes.
To help convince resisters why the change is important, turn to the three D’s:
- Data: Use data, such as higher payment accuracy rates, to explain why the new system will be better.
- Demonstrate: Show the new solution and share how other groups best utilize the platform.
- Demand: Share regulatory requirements and customer expectations that convey why the new technologies are needed.
You do not need everyone at your health plan to be on board. In reality, when approximately one-third of your employees are supportive, the rest will follow and accept the coming change.
5. Adapt underlying systems and structures.
With new tools come new processes. So how can you encourage the change and not force the change?
First, have a plan for how processes will change with the new system and communicate it clearly to your employees. It is possible that the new tools will alter team structure and reporting, leaving some individuals without the support they’re used to. Knowing how they will be expected to work moving forward will help mitigate some of their apprehension.
Changing employee incentives can help with this process. Certain employees might have different goals because the organization can now sell to larger companies with bigger contracts. For others, it may be as simple as removing access to the legacy system and encouraging them to sign in to the modern user-friendly system. Once your team understands the structure of work, they can be more creative and accepting with how they get there.
6. Monitor progress with data.
What gets measured gets done, and what gets rewarded gets repeated. How is your organization measuring progress? What are the key milestones to reaching your goals? Your timeline will be unique based on your company goals, but it’s vital to add checkpoints along the way. Get comfortable with the idea of designing, building, and validating your processes before you go live—and then review and reiterate.
You will also need to know your leading and lagging indicators of project success, as well as how to break them down for iterative measurement. Once the project metrics are agreed on and in place, you can better align your employees to meet them.
Throughout this process, it’s important to remember: if you aren’t adapting and growing, you’re falling behind. Working with the right professional services team can support your organization in defining what change management success means for your organization. This includes steps like project planning to identify scope and milestones, meeting with senior executives to determine measures of success, establishing a steering committee, and enabling your team to continue building toward your objectives.
For more information about the HealthEdge Professional Services team and how it can impact your organization, click here.