You’re listening to WII-FM

Have you ever heard the WII-FM Station when driving change at your organization?

Not familiar with the station? You’ve probably heard many people resisting that change saying it: “What’s In It For Me?”

It’s easy for pilots to answer that question. They refer to a checklist before flying to ensure the safety of the plane and the passengers. Why? It’s part of their job, and their own life is involved.

In other professions, such as health care, that answer is less clear. We place a lot of importance on patient centeredness. This is a great concept, any many hospitals work hard at this with patient-satisfaction surveys and process improvement programs aimed at improving operations and ensuring patient safety. But medication errors, patient falls, lab report mishaps and other problems still happen, so why don’t process improvement efforts bear fruit all the time?

This question has many possible answers: Leadership isn’t committed, training is lax, quality improvement programs are seen as “flavor of the month” deals, other priorities take precedence… The list is endless.

In my experience, one other key problem keeping our changes from truly taking hold is not answering that first question, not making it clear to the people making the change what’s in it for them.  Improving processes means changing how employees have been doing work, sometimes for years. Now you step in and tell them it’s because of our patients or customers? Sure, no one goes to work with the idea to give the wrong medication or make a defective product, but customer-centeredness is still not enough of a change motivator. What also is important is what employees get in return.

To answer that, here’s a sample:

  1. The complexity in your work is gone
  2. Your productivity is improved
  3. Overtime is gone and your work-life balance returns
  4. No more waiting for help or for others to finish work
  5. Better communication with your colleagues
  6. More time to do what you enjoy and less time spent on useless activities such as walking or searching for documentation 

Last but certainly not least: It doesn’t hurt to tell employees there are consequences if they don’t buy in, and this isn’t communicated enough. Not much is done to celebrate successful adapters. Not much is done, either, to address those who don’t adapt due political or financial reasons.

Remember this next time you need your team to tune in.


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