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To the employees of healthcare providers throughout America: It is time to be truly honest with yourself.  It may mean the difference between keeping your job or losing it.

Old Way or New WayDo you like change?  If the answer is an emphatic no, or perhaps the more benign, “no, not really” then ask yourself — again, be honest — can you learn to adapt?  If the answer to both questions is no and you are a manager, department director or a member of the executive team of a healthcare provider, then know this: the chances that you will survive the transformation of healthcare in the U.S. are less than 50 percent, according to the unofficial oddsmakers I know.

I know a lot of healthcare executives, directors and managers who admit they can change, especially with rumors of an imminent layoff circulating like a wildfire on a hot day, but in the end they cannot help themselves and they dig in their heels, either overtly or, more troubling, covertly (read: passive/aggressive behavior).
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Here is the immutable truth you cannot change: the biggest disservice you can do to yourself — your reputation and your career brand — is to play along that change is OK, maybe even feign some excitement that it is necessary, and then try to ignore it, or worse, try to sabotage an organization’s efforts to adapt by not executing successfully.

The employee rating system popularized by Jack Welch, the legendary former Chairman and CEO of GE Corporation says:

  • A employees are the gold standard.  They embrace change, work in a self-directed manner, they volunteer for risky assignments and they welcome the challenges that economic, regulatory or competitive forces bring to the stage.
  • B employees are the salt-of-the-earth types.  You have to spend more time with them, directing and coaching, but they are conscientious.  They represent the largest percentage of your employees, if you are a Bell Curve devotee.  They may be fearful of change, but they can think things through and move forward with the support of their boss and A colleagues.
  • C employees require that you spend more than 60 percent of your time ensuring that they accomplish the basic stuff in a day’s work.  They mean well but they lack the internal drive to be an A.  With help they can become a B but it will take effort and time.  The vast majority of Cs specialize in fear and resistance to change and their subspecialty is passive-aggressive behavior.  This is the second largest group of employees in most organizations and it is this group that can sink your ship if you are a CEO.

So, if you tally up your fear-of-change employees in the B and C categories, you can easily see that is a big group that will need a lot of help.  Helping them overcome this deep-seated fear will take time and money.

Now is probably a good time to start.