Change is a constant presence in any business environment. For veterinary practices, managing change is especially difficult as teams are already under significant pressure. To improve outcomes and results, it’s crucial to recognize risk factors that can jeopardize your efforts to drive change in the practice. Whether you need to implement new workflows, safety protocols or update software, be wary of these seven common—and costly—mistakes:
1. Delaying necessary transitions
Successful practices will identify the need to adapt and take proactive steps when they spot telltale signs that indicate the need for change. These signs include: falling profits, staff turnover, unsold inventory and growing local competitors.
2. Communicating ineffectively or insufficiently
A robust communications plan will help guide initiatives, spark collaboration and ensure you’re sharing expectations; too little communication and you’ll likely see frustration and confusion from your team and your clients. When building communications, consider what roles will be impacted and how that news will be delivered.
3. Ignoring technology advances
Changes are often ushered in by technological transformation. Yet many practices fall into a familiar way of doing things that can be a barrier to productivity and efficiency. Staying informed of industry innovations can help you find the right technology tool for everything from patient care to client marketing. Staff and customers will love the benefits and modern experience.
4. Falling behind competitors
Another pitfall is losing touch with changing consumer expectations and falling behind competitors offering the latest services and conveniences to meet demand. Sometimes you might recognize a gap in knowledge around pet breeds, health issues or dietary trends. You may be stumped by questions about unfamiliar products or services. Keep an eye on the competition and pay close attention to customer behavior and consumer trends.
5. Neglecting team needs
It can be hard to know how your staff will react to change, but team members will likely work through four stages: denial of the need for change, frustration with the process, acceptance of the change, and commitment to the new way of working. When change is underway, be prepared to support your staff throughout the process.
6. Taking resistance personally
It’s a mistake to take resistance personally or write off reluctant staff members as difficult. Resistance to change is normal and often stems from fear. Inspire your team by addressing their specific concerns, providing additional training or other support and encouraging collaborative problem-solving.
7. Missing plans or leadership
It’s important to understand that change – either planned or without warning – can be managed. Changes in your practice could impact processes, systems, organizational structures and even job roles and titles, but you can minimize disruption by applying the discipline of change management and appointing a leader to rally the team.
Tackling change at your practice?
Download our ebook, Navigating what’s next: How to manage change in your veterinary practice, a resource full of tips and techniques to best support your team throughout the change process.
Looking for some quick tips? Download our infographic here.