HOUSTON, Texas – Here are a couple of questions for Chief Executive Officers:

  • Do you know who the change resistant executives are in your senior leadership team? Chances are there is at least one.
  • Do your senior leaders know, in the ranks of managers that report to them, who the change resistant people are?

Resistance to Change: Coaching Can HelpNot knowing on the eve of the transformation of the healthcare industry will result in less than optimal performance with potentially negative financial consequences, plus, you will be paying those people for 100 percent effort and not getting your money’s worth. Moreover, struggling executives and managers almost always impact the performance of the “A” performers who report to them.

This is not a contrived scenario. There is ample evidence that this is a long standing organizational dynamic. Historically, the issue was not addressed with employees until it had to be but now that we know that the scope and scale of healthcare reform will have such a major effect on the majority of healthcare providers, the issue will require a more proactive approach.

No one knows when we will reach the tipping point, when our sick care/fee-for-service reimbursement slips away and we face the radically different rules of a value-based approach. We do know that the train of transformational change is already on the tracks and healthcare organizations are lining up to get on board. The literature tells us that healthcare organizations are already making intermediate changes that must occur. However, even these preliminary changes are the type that unsettle and disrupt those who, all things considered, would just as soon not veer too far from the status quo.

It is probably a good time to give this issue some proactive consideration instead of waiting for telltale signs of lapsing performance – proactive support and coaching before executives and managers stub their toes in a costly way. There are several cost-effective approaches to identify individuals who will, more than likely, need this level of support, and support is certainly more cost effective than terminating and recruiting a replacement.

If you are in that group of executives or managers who, all things being equal, emotionally detest the kinds of transformative change that will impact your areas of responsibility, being honest with yourself now and asking for help is no great sin. The real problem is that resistance to change is one aspect of the personality dimensions that most people cannot – usually will not — see in themselves. This includes those at the top of the organization all the way down to the guy mowing the grass.

Marshall Goldsmith in his seminal work “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” focuses on this problem.

If there was ever a time in healthcare for some personal self awareness, this is it. Do not be afraid. This sort of reflection need not be career limiting, and if it is, maybe you are in the wrong organization to begin with.

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There are some great people who focus on healthcare and who are very good at helping executives and managers navigate the waters of change.