Second round applications for 2023 are now open and close Sunday 4 September 2022 at 11.59pm AEST

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.


Yasmin Mahmoud
Yasmin Mahmoud
Yasmin Mahmoud's Blog

Change (People) Management: Managing the Change Before it Manages You (Annie Makar)

By Annie Makar

1st Year Health Management Intern

Publication date: 31/12/2021

Change management is as much about the systematic approach as the people. The definition of change management is well-researched and documented. However, most fail to address one critical aspect: the employees affected by the change.

During my second placement in the Health Management Intern Program, I was redeployed to a Public Health Unit (PHU) to lead a major change project during Victoria's third wave of COVID-19. This post will outline the framework used to implement new processes and how we worked alongside the workforce to ensure the success of the project.

 

Figure 1 Stages of a Management Framework

 

  1. Change Scope, Objectives, Deliverables and Timeframes

The first task is to identify the change required, the timeframe in which it will be implemented, and, most importantly, the project's scope.

The scope of my project in the PHU was to move from two duplicate IT systems to a single system in four weeks. I must admit that this scope changed significantly as the project advanced. Luckily, there was room to be flexible, but this experience taught me to create boundaries to ensure the project's aim was achieved within the timeframe.

The project's objective was to ensure quality assurance of data entry and minimal double data entry. The deliverables of the project were to define the role of each staff member in the new process and run training sessions to ensure staff were comfortable using all aspects of the new IT system.

  1. Key Stakeholders

Next, to ensure a successful project, it is crucial to identify its internal and external stakeholders. The list can never be too long! Key stakeholders are those interested in the project and/or organisation and can affect or be affected by a change in the organisation1. This is also the time to identify the project sponsor (e.g., executive member), the external stakeholders (e.g., patients), and internal stakeholders (e.g., employees – separate these into roles to ensure the project is inclusive of the whole workforce).

A crucial stakeholder and member of the project team was the Information & Analytics Unit, as the change in systems meant their reporting would be sourced from a different system. Their expertise in the field was one of the many reasons our project was successful.

  1. Change Impact Assessment

The Change Impact Assessment incorporates all the previously mentioned sections and identifies the impact this will have on key stakeholders as they transition from current state to the new system2. This assessment is split into three themes of impact – process & policy, people and technology. The degree of impact should be determined to clearly understand the outstanding barriers, mitigation strategies and decisions that must be solved to succeed in the project.

In our project, people and technology were significantly impacted by the change. Therefore, we asked ourselves: How will we do this during a period of severe change fatigue? Our mitigation strategy was training, patience and effective communication/consultation, and lots of it!

  1. Implementation Plan

The implementation plan will outline the steps, actions, processes and activities you (and the team) will undertake to achieve the objectives and deliverables of the project. This is where you will also identify who will be responsible for each action and the due date – be as specific as you can!

The stages of our implementation plan were developed to provide a clear direction of the project (mind you, during a global pandemic, this was easier said than done!) As I had previously worked as a Contact Tracer in the unit, I learned how the team and systems worked. My networks within the team also helped, to understand each role and how they worked together to achieve a common goal – to slow the spread of COVID-19—understanding the systems in place while building trust among the impacted workforce, assisted in developing the implementation plan and ensured the success of the project.

  1. Communication and Training Plan

Effective communication, consultation, and training are vital for success. The consultation phase should include key stakeholders, both internal and external. While regular updates to the team that recap progress and upcoming actions help keep everyone informed and on the same page.

Consistent information meant the key stakeholders in the PHU were engaged and created awareness of anticipated challenges and risks to the project. Training resources, specifically during the transition to the new IT system, were vital in providing clarity and ensuring the workforce felt supported and empowered to use the system.

  1. Risks & Issues Log

This is where issues are added as they continue to arise during the project's planning, implementation, and conclusion. Mitigation strategies, responsibilities and due dates will be outlined in this section. This section can also be helpful during communication with key stakeholders to safeguard transparency.

As we delved deeper into the project and the more I spoke to the workforce, the more complexities and risks were identified. Again, it reiterated to me the importance of keeping the workforce informed of any changes and the value of building trust with the team.

  1. Evaluation

All projects come to an end, but not all are successful. It is, therefore, important to evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of a project before closing it out. Evaluation can be performed through surveys, data reporting and revisiting the unit to ensure the introduced process is being followed.

Being a health management intern in the PHU during a pandemic opened my eyes to change management and its implications on the workforce. Undoubtedly, the experience will assist me in effectively managing future change - essential for a career in health management. Furthermore, it solidified the importance of building good relationships within your team. After all, they are the experts and will inform and carry out a project long after you are gone.

Implementing change (big or small) is complex and is not always successful – my advice – do not forget about how people are impacted by change and make sure you bring them along with you!

References

  1. Learn what stakeholders are and the roles that they play. (2021). Investopedia. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/stakeholder.asp
  2. ArborSys Group. Change impact assessment services, solutions, and tools. ArborSys Group Business Technology Consultants Specializing in Regulated Industries. https://www.arborsys.com/change-impact-assessment.html#:~:text=A%20change%20impact%20assessment%20defines,to%20affect%20key%20stakeholder%20groups

Disclaimer: Views are those of the individual authors and not those of ACHSM or management interns’ employers



Comments are closed.