I am an eye care practitioner with one community practice. I want to expand my practice by hiring more staff, buying more technology, building another consulting room and increasing marketing. I have a small team that has been working with me since I opened five years ago. I’m worried that these changes may upset my team and cause some of them to leave. How can I change my practice and keep my staff?

One of the top concerns for any practice owner making changes in their practice is: how will the staff react?

When changes occur or are necessary there might be some resistance from staff who are comfortable with the processes and tools they’ve used for many years.

When planning to make changes it’s very important to tell your staff before you make any changes of the nature you have described. Meet with your staff as a group or on a one-to-one and explain your plans for change. Focus on why there is a need for change and on any benefits that the staff will have following the change. Such as, more staff and therefore less work for each individual, or more salary or more holiday or more chance of the practice being prosperous and therefore more security for their jobs.

If your changes include requests from staff for change, such as more staff, then emphasise that.

If your changes mean that staff will have to worker harder or more hours then be honest about that. See if you can reward the extra work with more pay or more holiday or longer breaks.

If you have shared your long-term vision with your team, then let them know that these changes getting you closer to that vision of building a better, larger, or more robust practice.

Encourage your team to take part in the recruitment process of new staff right down to deciding which applicants to hire. Encourage them to mention the new jobs to their friends and relatives. They will be less likely to leave if you hire someone they already know.

It is important that your team understand how the changes will specifically affect them. Your employees will be more open to change if they are less worried about the changes. Create bullet points for each role in your practice and tell your team how new staff, new software, or new technology or other large change will affect their day-to- day duties and long-term goals. It is best to be clear and honest.

Give you team some days to think about your proposals for change and welcome comments from them, as a group or on an individual and perhaps confidential basis.

It may be that despite your efforts some of your team still want to leave. Try and persuade them not to but if you can’t thank them for their work, give them a good reference and perhaps a bonus in their last wage packet. They might want to join you again in the future and you might need someone of their experience in the future. Always best to part as friendly colleagues.


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