Fear of Change & the on-call Schedule (Part 2)

Fear of change (part 2 of 2)

Planning for a new On-Call Scheduling system needs to include more than the cut-and-dried process and timeline to accomplish tasks. The people-factor can have a huge impact on the success of your project!

In a continuation of the previous article, here is the rest of the most common causes of change resistance.

6.) Fear of incompetence. Change can make people feel stupid. Establish training hours Schedulers and increase support for Providers during the implementation, but make it clear they will face change wherever they go. Deep down some may worry their skills are becoming obsolete or simply feeling overwhelmed. Supply time, peer-mentors, and a period of overlap running the old and new systems simultaneously for a brief period of time to ease the transition. However, establish a reasonable deadline and KEEP IT!

7.) More Work. Change is indeed more work, but only temporarily. Those closest to the beginning of implementation often feel overloaded at first due to the inevitable glitches in the middle of change. Ever heard of “Kanter’s Law”? “Everything can look like a failure in the middle”. Keep the initial group using the new on-call system small, and composed of “techie doctors” if you have them, at least until the kinks are worked out. Acknowledge the hard work of your Schedulers by allowing them some block-time to focus exclusively on training and implementation. Perhaps release them from some other duties if they can be delegated. After the change is in place and becomes part of the new routine, work-flow will pick up again. Once the kinks are worked out, and after an in-house training session, peer-mentors can show the other Providers how to do things.

8.) Departmental Disruption. It’s easy to concentrate on the Providers, since they are the ones being scheduled for on-call, and all other schedules must be determined after it is in place. Providers are front-and-center affected by changing the on-call scheduling process. However, change can affect other departments and they may push back, feeling they had nothing to do with the changes that are now interfering with their own work. These departments should be included and made aware of the changes early so they know what’s coming, and then work with them to minimize disruption.

9.) Legacy Systems. Establish your priorities and be firm about your deadlines or goals. Be selective about short-term use of older solutions and definite about when those processes will end, say in three months. The initial reaction from some may be that the new system won’t help their specific department, it’s “all for the doctors”, or “all for the hospital”. Focus on the positive aspects of change, engage those people who may reject it early and often, and be consistent.

10.) Sleeping Dogs. Have you been letting “sleeping dogs lie” regarding old resentments? As soon as you need cooperation, sometimes old resentments may be renewed, be it between Providers, inter-departmental issues, or between newly merged groups. Beware of tit-for-tat and consider gestures to heal the past before moving into the future.

Sometimes change is resisted because the new On-Call process really cannot replace the old one effectively. As long as everyone involved is honest, transparent, and making an earnest effort, the feedback can be helpful in improving the fit of new technology, or deciding it’s a “no go”. You may find the “no go” is really “not yet” and once the in-house issues are settled you will be ready to take another look at automated on-call scheduling software.

(Read Part 1)

Key Takeaway

Helping people transition through change is a key step in planning and implementing any good on-call scheduling solution. Make time to do it properly to ensure your success.


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