Change Management: A Recap of our Webinar on How to Help People Adopt Change

A Message from the Director of the Center for Sharing Public Health Services

Change is hard, just ask anyone who is going through it. Change can be especially difficult when it involves your workplace and you are unsure or uncomfortable about how it will impact your role. People can get anxious as they try to anticipate what is ahead of them.

Cross-jurisdictional sharing (CJS) initiatives always involve change. When two or more public health departments begin working together to share responsibilities, it can impact staff, community members, governing bodies and other stakeholders, many of whom may not always welcome the change.

Change management strategies can help people and organizations adopt change. The Center’s Roadmap to Develop Cross-Jurisdictional Sharing Initiatives lists change management as an important step when planning and implementing CJS arrangements.  

In late January, the Center for Sharing Public Health Services held a webinar called Using Change Management Strategies to Facilitate Cross-Jurisdictional Sharing. The webinar featured a conversation with Heather Weir, Director of the Office of Strategy and Performance in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In her role there, Heather trains other professionals on how to manage change and also applies the techniques to her own work.   

During the conversation, Heather shared practical ways to incorporate change management strategies into the cross-jurisdictional sharing process. This column touches on just a few of her suggestions. If you or your organization is going through a change, I highly recommend that you watch the full recording of the webinar, which is available on our website.

While there are many different change management models out there, they all share similarities. Public health professionals need to figure out which model works best for their agency. Heather uses the Prosci ADKAR Model in her trainings, because it is easy to understand and apply. The model helps people who are experiencing change to move through five phases:  

  • Awareness of the need for change (“Why are we changing?”)
  • Desire to support the change (“What’s in it for me?”)
  • Knowledge of how to change (“What training do we need?”)
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviors (“Do we have the time and resources needed?”)
  • Reinforcement to make the change stick (“How do we measure success?”)

People or organizations going through change can perform an ADKAR assessment, which is discussed in the webinar. For ideas on how to overcome change barriers, download the free resources from the Prosci website

Heather shared a story about using an ADKAR assessment during a retreat with supervisors who were having difficulty with an organizational change in their division. They found that half of the participants at the retreat thought that ability was the barrier and the other half thought that awareness was the barrier, meaning 50 percent of the supervisors didn’t understand why the change was needed. The assessment helped the director to realize that communication wasn’t being shared effectively across the entire division. As a result of the ADKAR assessment, the change management team developed different communication plans for different groups of people impacted by the change. If they hadn’t used the ADKAR assessment, it probably would have taken them longer to articulate the barriers and to find solutions.

As this example illustrates, people often resist change because they don’t know why it is needed. Organizations often skip the first two steps in the ADKAR Model and move directly into training. When this happens, they often start the conversation with what they are going to do instead of why they are going to do it. One way to avoid barriers to awareness and desire is to have conversations early in the process, collect feedback from people who will be impacted by the change, and incorporate their responses into planning and communication.

As I’ve already mentioned, CJS initiatives always involve change, and change can be difficult. Incorporating change management strategies during the planning and implementation phases of a CJS arrangement can ease the transition to a more collaborative approach in public health.  

We value your feedback. If you have suggestions for the Center or questions about cross-jurisdictional sharing, please email me at phsharing@khi.org.  

— Gianfranco Pezzino, Director