The Trouble with Change

It’s too bad President Obama isn’t for hire. I tell you–getting people to change their ways is tough! How did he get so many people to follow him so easily? It’s almost unnatural. Usually, getting people to change their ways is like pulling teeth; no one wants to change until it’s absolutely necessary (e.g., when their job/general well-being is on the line). But why is that? And on top of that, what about people who are risk averse when faced with no actual risk? For example, say that a large group of people all agree and buy-in to change a process, hoping to effect a new outcome (assuming that the outcome has no direct effect on individual livelihood), why should someone who agreed to the change respond aversely to a risk associated with undertaking the necessary adjustments? Is risk aversion natural in this regard? What/where is the risk? What so bad about betting with house money? My guess is that these people are averse because the risk involves a loss of control. But the real question is, how do you reach these people to show them that the risk they perceive to affect themselves isn’t real? This is where coaching comes into play. The other day, the CEO at Stanford Hospital said that Performance Excellence’s real job as internal consultants is to coach fellow employees. Employees are great resources for process improvement. They are involved in all hospital processes and through this involvement they see what works and what doesn’t. When faced with change–big or otherwise–it’s imperative that we help employees work through their risk aversions to make the institution function better for all.


James Shannon

Nursing Leader | Quality Leader | Healthcare Attorney

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