Vic Management Interns' blog

Blog posts by Victorian Management Interns of the Australasian College of Health Service Management. Views are those of the individual authors and not those of ACHSM or management interns’ host organisations or employers.

Oscar Chaffey
Oscar Chaffey

Health Management Interns, ACHSM

Promoting change in the healthcare sector (Ian Campelj)

By Ian Campelj

2nd Year Management Intern

Planning and implementing change initiatives in the health care sector is widely recognised as a particularly intricate and complex task. I’ve noticed that the complexity seems to stem from ambiguous power relationships between managers, clinicians, and community groups who operate within a resource deprived environment. Over the past year, this has been further complicated by external factors that command significant allocation of organisational resources, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The implication is that change has replaced stability to become the new organisational norm in the health care sector. Here are some reflections on promoting change during my intern placements.

  1. Promote organisational readiness.

The capability of an organisation to successfully adopt a change initiative is built on its readiness at the individual and organisational levels. During key projects, I supported organisational readiness with both formal and informal communication methods. Formally, communication sessions such as workshops and targeted consultations proved useful for sharing ideas and co-constructing change. Informally, I used storytelling and narrative in passing conversation to generate awareness and interest in each change initiative.

  1. Identify resistance to change.

Resistance to change is built upon a wide range of underlying reasons and presents in a wide variety of forms. I have observed that individuals commonly resist change because the future post-change operating environment is an unknown factor that hasn’t been well envisioned or communicated, while entire units can resist change at the group level if it impacts their functional status within the organisation.

During my intern placements, my key learning is that perspective is key when being met with resistance. I put significant emphasis on putting myself in the other person or groups position, to gain further understanding of the reasoning behind resistance. I have found that most resistance comes from a place of genuine concern, based on positive reasoning.

I am often met with surface level issues from the relevant change initiative during both formal and informal conversation about change. While recognising these symptoms exist, I try to dig down and uncover the underlying reason for resistance and concern. This is a key opportunity to strengthen the change effort by uncovering genuine risks and outcomes that had not been previously considered, while providing a platform for a person or group to contribute to the co-construction of change.

  1. Sustaining change.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of a change initiative is ensuring its adoption across the organisation. It is widely recognised that for change to be successful, it must become embedded in the organisational culture and identity. This does not occur organically. It requires deliberate acts and interventions to support the adoption process.

I have found that laying the foundations for the successful adoption of change early in the process quite useful. I put particular emphasis on enabling change recipients to contribute to early visioning of the change initiative and open communication through narrative and storytelling. These activities facilitate the transition of a change initiative into individual, group and organisational culture.


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