“2014 … the Year of the _________.” If you Google it, you will find a wide range of suggested fill-in-the-blanks from “horse” to “family farming” and everything in between.
Since it is unlikely that some of the more bizarre postings you’ll see will have a direct influence on your podiatry practice, how would you complete the sentence? What does this year have in store for you? Do you have a professional or personal dream, aspiration or goal which would move you forward if you pursued it? If so, what is your plan for making this year’s commitment one that will last more than just the next week or two (the familiar pattern of most “new year’s resolutions”)? If you are one of those people who hopes that dreams become reality just by wishing them, then it makes little sense for you to continue reading. However, if you are serious about making this a year worth celebrating, I invite you to read on.
I have worked with a number of doctors who have had a lot of great practice ideas and a corresponding list of reasons why they were unsuccessful. In many cases, one of the underlying causes was fear. There was fear that the “new” way might be unnatural and awkward, and would take them out of their “comfort” zone. There was fear that the “new” learning curve would require more of their energy and time, and be bound to disrupt their day (which is already on overload). Lastly, there was fear of the unknown. After all, anything can happen.
Then there was a big concern regarding the lack of staff cooperation. While these docs were absolutely confident in making these changes, the team that helps move the idea along was not. Given that the human response is to resist change initially, particularly if the pain of moving from Point A (their “norm”) is greater than the pleasure of arriving at Point B (the “new” idea), this projected reaction is understandable and inevitable.
One cannot convince others to share the excitement if they are not knowledgeable about what this change means for them. There must be a legitimate “buy in.” Likewise, you cannot attempt to “sell” an idea (even the best idea) if you don’t first do your homework. Emphasize the “pluses” of the new plan and how it will not only benefit the practice, but also satisfy any “What’s in it for me?” staff expectations. The staff will want to realize all the details before committing so energetic communication is imperative. Encourage questions, listen closely, get their feedback and address their concerns and apprehensions.
They especially need to feel involved and this happens by asking their advice and discussing how it will impact them. If staff members feel they have an active role in this change (as opposed to being forced into it), they will be more inclined to embrace it. Resistance levels will drop, their confidence levels will rise and soon Point B will become their norm.
Now comes the critical part … follow through. Without it, new ideas, even great ideas, tend to fade and die. It is not unusual but it is also not productive. Enter the written action plan.* This one simple tool adds necessary structure to any idea by breaking it into smaller, manageable pieces. The plan outlines each step that needs to happen, divvies up and assigns responsibilities, and sets reasonable deadlines. Team enthusiasm builds as staff reaches each target. Slowly but surely, concepts become reality and we can celebrate accomplishments.
Don’t let perceived barriers stop you from launching your new practice building idea. Instead, let 2014 be “the Year of the Outcome” for you. The late Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Maybe this is your year to get things done.
*If anyone would like a complimentary copy of a blank action plan sheet to get started, please reply to this post or email firstname.lastname@example.org  .