Change Management: New ways of working

28 Apr

I am working in a division that went through a restructure and is due to go through another, so there is, understandably, tension and anxiety wafting through. The first restructure saw the creation of the division and the introduction of a new way of working to incorporate a new national agenda. It didn’t take. I wasn’t here for the initiation of the changes so I can’t comment of what the work environment was like at that time but since my arrival, I get the feeling that staff were informed of the change, there was a tokenistic consultation (and I don’t see the purpose as the conclusion of the consultation was that none of the staff had any clue about how this new way of working works in practice – obvious, no?), and a shift in the way they do the way they do.

Granted, the organization paid for all the staff to be trained in this new way of working but there doesn’t appear to have been a clear practical demonstration of how it fits into their current way of working (this was particularly contentious as this new way of working was voluntary and some of the teams in the division case managed statutory cases). Practitioners even went so far as to voice the fact that they felt “forced” into undertaking the training. There was widespread resentment. There was widespread resistance to the point where, once I was hired (as a quality assurance person), there was nothing for me to do because no one was doing the work I was hired to quality assure. As you can imagine this caused widespread frustration amongst managers.

The organization even went so far as to put on training for the frontline managers as this new way of working on the frontline also meant a new way of supervising staff. Do you think the training actually covered what they might encounter in supervision as a result of this new way of working? Absolutely not. What came out of this training? Managers asking for support in order to support the workers with this new way of working. One manager even said outright that his expectation and understanding was that the training was going to provide just that. Uh, no. Sorry sir, that is way to practical and logical.

Much to my surprise, this wasn’t addressed directly with practitioners or managers. How about that?

How do you start a division with the view of working in a different way to benefit your client base but don’t address the fact that the work isn’t being done? I have no idea. Again, it goes back to the shoddy approach to change management.

Fast forward about 6 months. The work isn’t being done. The “clinical supervision” that was promised as part of the restructure has been rethought and is no longer going to be provided. “Practice meetings” provided to one of the teams doesn’t deal with practice issues but management issues. Workers are still resentful. Managers are still not receiving any support. There are still no cases for me to quality assure. There has been no direct discussions about any of the above although senior management sees fit to engage other projects, programs and bring on new teams. Did I miss something? Probably, but I digress.

So, how do we address all the above. BRAND NEW practice sessions that spend the entire division (as opposed to the ones that aren’t working properly in the one team that has them). Ok, I can get on board with this because the practitioners are asking for and want the opportunity to discuss their cases and management are keen for them to be taking on more professional responsibility and utilize the skills they learned on training. Now, I have been asked to help facilitate these sessions, which again I am fine with. My issue, we are introducing more things to practitioners (or re-introducing them) and again leaving out the managers. How do you make changes to practice without involving those that are doing the day to day management of that practice? Well, this would be my conundrum. I feel like by excluding the managers and not providing the support that has been requested initially and support around what we are doing now, we are missing a crucial step. We are setting ourselves up for issues down the line.

It is perfectly acceptable to want to enhance the skills of your frontline staff but what effect does this have if they are still being managed in the same way? Am I wrong? Am I missing something?

I am more than open to discussing this because I cannot fathom how this is going to play out. I am feeling a bit anxious. I will do what is asked of me and have voiced my concerns but there has to be a better way of getting and organization, or in this situation, a division of functioning better and more cohesively, no?

This makes me question the investment in this entire division. The initial investment is there, but as you can see from the picture there needs to be a cycle of continuous improvement. A cycle denotes a connection, not a disjointed approach – addressing issues that arise in isolation instead as part of continuous improvement.

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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in My Practice


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