CEOs & managers: What you are doing wrong!

An aged care and health expert advises technology leaders on how to implement sustainable organisational change.

By Yasmin Noone

Managers and CEOs trying to implement organisational change should listen up: your staff are not carrying the torch for change as requested, not because they are dissenters but because you are not doing it right, an aged care expert has said.

CEO of Adamson & Associates, Dianne Adamson, advised a crowd of 100-plus aged care technology leaders that they must first examine their own approach to organisational change before they expect staff to follow their direction.

Ms Adamson, who presented at Simavita’s The Future Technology Challenge Forum in Sydney recently, commented that too often, aged care managers and CEOs try to manage change instead of lead it.

This is, she said, the main reason why their attempts to change workplace culture or introduce a new technology system fails.

“We can be as innovative as we like but unless you get people with you and behind you on your journey, you will find [innovation] very difficult,” Ms Adamson said.

But, she said, “…you can’t manage change, you can only lead it. Most organisations manage change and change is painful. Managing change in aged care may be extremely painful for staff at the grass roots of the organisation delivering care”.

Ms Adamson explained scientific findings from research into the brain’s pre-frontal lobe which proves that “change is uncomfortable” and “change hurts physically, emotionally and psychologically”.

“Change is hard for people, not because they’re resistant but because people prefer to go back to doing the same things as they’ve always done. 
“…Staff aren’t following the change and aren’t turning up to meetings. They are also not having discussions with you [about why they don’t want to change] but they are having it in the lunch room and in the corridors…You just can’t hear them. And you’re responsible for implementing the change.”

So, she asked, how do managers and leaders stop feeling like the “meat in the sandwich or a rock in a hard place” while trying to embark on a journey of organisational improvement?

“If you use influence strategies you will have the power to do anything,” she answered.

“Change comes with leadership and successful change comes with successful communication…It may be complex but people solve world class problems by influencing the way that people behave.”

Using the entertaining example of how the African guinea worm disease was overcome, village by village, through a change in people’s behaviour, Adamson explained how aged care leaders can also influence human thought and action.
“Everyone has self-defeating behaviours…But what is the vital behaviour that will change [everything] and help bring the team along on the journey?

“Look for positive deviations. Which organisations are doing it well? Which people in your organisations are doing change well?”

She also recommended that the leadership team base change around a set of key values that staff respect. That way, reluctant staff may be motivated to change because they want to adhere to a desired moral code.

“Values become a recovery plan. You’ll say, ‘That’s below the line as it’s not part of our values.”

Influence key, popular members of staff but “ignore opinion leaders at your own peril…Your relationship with staff is one of trust and with your supervisors is one of trust. They’ll take the messages on and lead the change.”

“[Also], start having conversations long before the change happens. That’s imperative.

“Give feedback and celebrate wins…Demand accountability.”

Tags: adamson-&-associates, aged-care, robotics, simavita, the-future-technology-challenge-forum,

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