Retraining Employees? Three Tips for Handling Any Pushback
In a previous life, I worked in for a home care agency. When I arrived, I was the low woman on the totem pole designated as the Personnel Coordinator/Recruiter. I remember being excited to leave the previous hellhole I was in and moving on to a much more sane environment – or so I thought.
During my first few weeks, there were quite a few whispers of the headquarters wanting to shut down the location I worked at. I never understood why until I examined how they were managing both the business and workforce closer. The “greener pasture” I moved onto was sending people namely healthcare practitioners into people’s homes being undertrained. You may be saying to yourself: “Well that’s not profound, because no one trains anymore” and you would be mistaken.
If there is a field where training is of the utmost importance – it is healthcare. In healthcare, people are often times coming to you when they are at their worst. For many of our clients at this company, having an in-home healthcare provider was both life-saving and life-preserving. That said, it was perplexing to find that not only were our employees not properly orientated and assimilated into the company; but they were not made to keep up with their ongoing training.
As I got the handle of my job and what needed to be done, I asked the Director for budget to launch an official orientation program. I explained to her that many of the personnel issues they were having was due to our employees not knowing our “way” of serving our patients/clients. Although, I will not disclose the company’s name, they had a manifesto of sorts that outlined the spirit with which they served clients and none of our practitioners knew it.
I ultimately received the budget to launch my orientation program as well as got the green light to revive our in-service process for the practitioners. Let’s just say I was not exactly popular among our employees for contacting them about lacking in-service hours. They had been allowed for several years prior to be scheduled and deployed to patient’s homes without having to upkeep their skills.
Here are three tips that I used for handling the pushback I received on retraining our employees:
- Don’t finger point. If I wanted to absolve myself of any wrongdoing I could have because I was new and also knew who dropped the ball in administering the onboarding and training programs for our practitioners. The reality is that wouldn’t have solved our problem of having under-trained employees. Instead, I explained to every employee that I understood that what I was proposing posed and imposition. I followed that statement up by letting them know that I would do everything in my power to help them meet our requirements.
- Do what you can to help your employees adjust. As I mentioned, I gave the employees my word that I would get them to the finish line. Too often, we make promises to our employees and fail to follow through. In my case, this meant early mornings in different counties to accommodate our employees commute time. This also meant accommodating various schedules by having morning and afternoon orientation sessions so no one missed out.
- Hold your internal partners accountable to the changes being made. One of the greatest detractors of change is the lack of buy-in from leadership down the command chain. While I obtained the budget I needed and had the blessing of my C-Suite, I had to constantly meet with my managers and nurse supervisors to make sure there was a united front as we proceeded with the changes I was proposing. Everyone from staffing supervisors to the director was involved in the process. I made it so they couldn’t ignore me and go back to the way it was.
Change in organizations is difficult particularly when it hints on the workforce being under-skilled and/or trained. Making sure your workforce is armed to do the work is not only important; your customers and/or clients depend on their expertise. Don’t let your fear of backlash or pushbacks deter you from making sure your employees are skilled and prepared to serve.
Why Lasting Change Is Hard
Before we had any children, my wife and I lived in the heart of Dallas. One day, on our way back to our house, we were driving down Skillman Avenue when we were caught in a sudden torrential downpour.
The rain was coming down incredibly hard, which wouldn’t have been a problem if the storm drains were equipped to handle that much water. Instead, the road itself filled with water faster than we could have anticipated. Quickly, the water rose up the side of our car. Trying not to panic, we realized that we could not continue and would need to turn around and get to higher ground.
Water rising up the side of your car door is the kind of roadblock you might not expect to encounter, but when you do, it’s formidable. We couldn’t drive through it or even around it. We had to deal with it quickly or face serious consequences.
When we’re trying to implement change in our own lives, it’s important to identify and plan for common roadblocks to lasting change.
The first and, in my opinion, most important roadblock to lasting change is not addressing the real issue.
Let’s say you wake up in the middle of the night with a sore throat. You’re annoyed by feeling sick but your throat really hurts, so you get up and spray a little Chloraseptic in your mouth and drift off to sleep. When you wake up the next day, you still have a sore throat, so you pop in a cough drop and go about your day.
The change you’re making – using a numbing agent – might work if you’ve only got a cold, but if it’s strep throat, you’re not addressing the real problem. Only an antibiotic will cure what ails you, even if Chloraseptic will keep the pain at bay for a while.
Just like how more information is needed to diagnose your sore throat than one feeling, problems you encounter in your life or business require diagnostics, too. Figuring out the real problem – not just your most apparent needs – requires some introspection and a little bit of time.
Here are eight questions to ask when you need to discover the root cause, courtesy of MindTools.com:
- What do you see happening?
- What are the specific symptoms?
- What proof do you have that the problem exists?
- How long has the problem existed?
- What is the impact of the problem?
- What sequence of events leads to the problem?
- What conditions allow the problem to occur?
- What other problems surround the occurrence of the central problem?
Once you have your answers to these key questions, you can’t stop there. Your vantage point is skewed from your own perspective. You’re going to want to ask someone else to evaluate the problem at hand with the same questions and then compare your answers.
If you and all of the partners at your firm have similar answers, you’ll know you’re on the right track. If you wind up with wildly different ideas, I suggest seeking the advice of someone outside your organization. Fresh eyes can make all the difference in understanding a problem.
I often talk about being ‘too close’ to understand. You’ve probably heard the illustration about a group of people standing by an elephant with blindfolds on, trying to describe what they’re experiencing. Depending on what part of the elephant you’re next to, you’re going to have different observations.
But someone outside of that elephant’s cage can clearly identify the elephant.
The first key to making a lasting change is to make sure you’ve addressed the real problem and are looking for authentic change.
Next time, we’ll address the second major roadblock to creating last change.
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