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The Crux of Change

15 July 2014 at 10:31 am
Staff Reporter
The aged, disability and home care sector is facing a new world in consumer directed care and a more corporate business model with many organisations well on track to adjust to the changes - but many are not, writes change management professional Claudia Perry-Beltrame.

Staff Reporter | 15 July 2014 at 10:31 am


The Crux of Change
15 July 2014 at 10:31 am

The aged, disability and home care sector is facing a new world in consumer directed care and a more corporate business model with many organisations well on track to adjust to the changes – but many are not, writes change management professional, Claudia Perry-Beltrame.

Change is everywhere. Still about 60 per cent of change projects fail. The main reason for this failure is attributed to the people affected by the change.

The aged, disability and home care sector is facing a new world in consumer directed care and a more corporate business model. The Consumer Directed Care Conference showed that many organisations are well on track to adjust to the changes. But the conference also highlighted that many are not.

Here are 10 change issues observed in the sector and tips to support the transition.  

1.       Consumer Directed Service Delivery

Government policies for CDC or the NDIS are still unfolding. Living with uncertainty is not new to the sector. What is new is that the goal posts have been shifted from organisational funding to consumer directed funding.  This is a new kind of uncertainty, yet, it is not an unknown uncertainty.

The service industry, which has used consumer based business models for decades, can show the sector the way. Copy and adapt. Find an organisation with exceptional customer service and ask to visit them to see how they are doing things.

2.       Business Model changes

The sector change impacts on your organisation’s business model.  It is timely to review it and integrate changes into your strategic plan. As part of a business model review ask if the current location, customer segment and relationships, partnerships and activities are what is needed in the future.  There is a real buzz that organisations need to market more. This is true, but marketing activities are an operational task and depend on the organisations business model and strategy. So this needs clarifying first.

3.       Know and Acknowledge the Change Barriers

I have seen organisations who have undertaken a business review denying that the results are akin to what was revealed during interviews.  This is like building a brick wall (review results) and then running into it (denial) instead around it (planning for change).  

Instead of focusing on the report, organisations should ask ‘do we want our organisation to exist tomorrow, in one year, in three years’? If yes, then the report is the tool to show the way of change. Denial of the report is only blocking the way to existence and opens the way to winding up.

4.       The Change Story

People during change often focus on what will be lost, not on what will stay the same or on what will be gained. As long the focus is on the loss, people cannot let go of the past.

The change story should support the letting go process. Yet, usually it only talks about the future of the organisation. It hardly ever tells what will remain the same or the impact of the change on diverse stakeholders.  

Hence a good change story will cover:

  • The why of change and the benefits for the organisation, the individual, the teams, the consumer and the community;
  • The organisational strengths the change is built on.

5.       Discover your Strengths

Holding onto the past means stability in uncertainty. However there are better ways to create stability. Knowing the organisations strengths, just like strength based case management, is a means to create stability; it is like a guiding beacon even if the final destination remains unknown and the change emerges over time.

This is where the paradox starts. Often organisations, which have undertaken a business review, don’t know what their strengths. They simply cannot define them. Organisational assessment methods like Appreciative Enquiry or a Cultural Values Assessment can help with this discovery.  

Most NFP organisations I have worked with already have a key strength. It is their employees care for their clients. While business came to caring for clients by way of thinking about profits, NFP organisations are known to have this care as their core objective. What is changing is not the care for the client, but how this care is delivered.

6.       Develop Employees to Care for the Organisation

A more corporate business model will require new skills but also new way of thinking about the organisation. Consumer directed care places the needs and wants of the consumer at the centre of the organisation. Employees will have to become responsive to the consumer’s need without neglecting the organisations need.

There are several challenges:

  • The mindset change to serving the consumer and the organisation at the same time.
  • The ability to make mutually beneficial decisions to be responsive to consumer’s needs.
  • The ability to market other services to the consumer.
  • The ability to identify changes in consumer needs and wants and articulate these to the organisation for service development.

These challenges require more accountability from employees. More accountability by employees needs managing: it needs to be developed, outcomes monitored, and performance recognised (constant or high performance) or managed (underperformance).  In most organisations accountability is managed by setting parameters such as key performance measures, deadlines, or monitoring systems.

Accountability needs developing in four different areas:

a)      Transparency of business: For example showing employees the interaction of client service delivery and organisational cash flow and expenditure helps decision making abilities at the frontline.

b)      Implementing systems that make processes easier – see point 7.

c)       Developing new mindsets and habits of work – see points 8 and 9.

d)      Accountability starts with the leadership team – see point 10.

7.       Systems to create Accountability

Accountability is achieved through automation of rostering or time keeping and service delivery records that link to financial records.  There are many systems available in the market that help with automation. Automation through an information system means people have to adapt to the new system and the processes arising from the system.

8.       Adapting Change needs Adaptive not Technical Solutions

Like other information system providers, Unitech offers training to use the system. And learning it is easy enough. But training by itself is not enough. In fact, research shows that people forget about 90 per cent of what they learned within 30 days and most of it within two hours of a course.  

Not very encouraging considering the money and time spent on training. Learning from a training course takes effort after the course through reflection, rereading of training material, and practice.  Learning the technical skills to use an information system is only a small part of using it. The large part is adapting to the system.  

Our collective experience shows that an information system is only as good as employees’ adaptability to and uptake of the system.

Adapting to change requires letting go of the past and taking up new habits and behaviours.  New habits mean removing the autopilot of doing things and learning a new mode. The new mode is uncomfortable and takes conscious effort. Effort requires more energy.  It takes more energy to develop new habits than having them on autopilot. Neuroscience tells us that the part of our brain (limbic brain) which develops habits is also responsible for emotions. Hence, finding the feeling in the ‘why’ of the change (through the change story) gets people connected to the change; it is the feeling that motivates people to invest the energy to change habits.

9.       New Behaviours = a Culture Change

Adapting new habits really means behavioural change. First, these new behaviours have to be determined even before the feeling is generated.

Some questions need asking:

  • What culture is imperative to achieve the organisations strategy?
  • What behaviours are needed to demonstrate the culture?
  • What habits do we need to demonstrate the behaviour?

Forging a consumer directed care identity is a must. A new identity happens through workplace culture.  Culture, just like strategy, can be planned. Culture can make or break your organisations strategy. Organisational culture assessments help with knowing where you are today and where you go to tomorrow.

There are two main assessment methods: qualitative methods using interviews or focus groups; or quantitative methods using surveys. For the latter there are many assessment tools available. From my experience, a combination of both methods is best to maximise engagement and depth of information. It is best to know the required outcome before making a decision about the best tool and method.

Developing new wanted behaviours is a great employee engagement process. This engagement helps reduce uncertainty and gives people a feeling of control. It gets them connected to the change. The new behaviours need articulating and communicating consistently…remember the 90 per cent of forgetting.

The new behaviours set an expectation everyone in the organisation needs to adhere to; no excuses, no blame, no exception.  

People need triggers, something that reminds them of the new requirements on a daily basis. Action triggers differ across the organisation. Engaging each team to set their triggers and hold each other accountable is the best way for staff to remember and articulate the change. People have an intrinsic instinct to fit in, to be connected to others, to be the same and be accepted in the group. Celebrating new behaviour uptake is contagious and spreads the uptake in incredible ways.  So reward instead of punish.

New behaviours lead to new habits and the new autopilot and combined lead to the new culture.

10.   Know Yourself to Lead Change

Leaders need to lead the change. In a nutshell they have to walk the talk, give meaning and feeling to the change, communicate it through the channels, and have their antennas up to pick up on the mood.  To do this, leaders need to know how they influence the change or specifically how others see them influencing the change.

It means that leaders are open to feedback through 360 degree surveys so they know how they set the standard. It means showing the new behaviours in the way decisions are made and implemented. They need to move out of autopilot before everyone else does to lead the change effectively.  

Ghandi said leaders need to be the change they want to see in their world.

About the Author: Claudia Perry-Beltrame is a change management professional specialising in workplace culture and challenging the status quo and the Managing Director of Cultural Inspirations.


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