1. Hader, Richard RN, CNA, CHE, CPHQ, PhD, FAAN, Editor-in-Chief

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Every other week I participate in a senior corporate staff meeting that's chaired by the president of the health system where I work. Recently, I arrived at the meeting a few minutes early and began talking to some of my colleagues. I inadvertently placed my belongings at a seat in which I normally don't sit. I turned around and found that one of my peers moved the chairs around so that she and I were "properly" placed in our usual positions. I chuckled to myself because I realized that my 15 executive peers and I sit in the same place all the time. We the leaders, who preach creativity, acceptance of change, and innovation, insist on protecting our own comfort zone. Are we frauds? Do we want our staff to remain open to change while we struggle with it everyday? How often do you change your assigned seat?


As leaders, we're responsible and rewarded for influencing others to make changes in their practice that enhance patient outcomes and organizational profitability. At times we ask our staff members to completely change their workflow to accommodate new documentation requirements, implement new technologies, flex days off, or we even require them to work at a different department. We might become frustrated when our team members aren't readily acceptant of this change because they don't understand the big picture-like we do. Yet, we're the ones who are reluctant to change our seats.

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Sleeping on the same side of the bed, taking the identical route home from work each day, and adhering to a daily routine are all examples of ways in which we try to maintain some sense of organization and assembly in our often chaotic lives. These types of activities are comforting when we're expected to manage and coach others, because unexpected circumstances that create anxiety and stress are inherent in our leadership roles. Retreating to a comfortable environment to regenerate ourselves isn't only appropriate, but should be fostered to refuel energy and augment productivity.


Like ourselves, staff members need to have the opportunity to rejuvenate. Bombarding our staff with change will create disharmony and negatively affect the outcome of the goals we're trying to achieve. A carefully crafted, timed, and thoughtful plan to successfully execute change should occur prior to implementation. Strategize a communication and marketing plan for the change and determine its potential impact on individuals; you'll enhance leadership credibility and foster engagement in the process.


Staff members will be more accepting of a change if they identify the problem and participate in creating the solution. Seek input from your reports to solve issues, as it'll yield good ideas. Allow time for staff members to adjust to the change, and make sure you actively encourage them along the way. Reward and recognize their success by highlighting milestones of achievement.


Whether you're a leader or a team member, change is difficult. All of us appreciate the comfort of predictability. When we insist on change from others, we have to remember to first change our own seats.


Richard Hader