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Managing Change in a Hospital Pathology Department

In SE Hospital Trust is one of the large hospitals located in the South-East of England. in this hospital, the pathology department provides diagnostic and testing services relying on efficient technology and constant improvements. Increasing speed of change and the emergence of competition among medial establishments characterize the present environment, producing new opportunities and threats.

In order to cope with such a changing environment, a hospital pathology department needs several attributes. The need for change is caused by internal and external drivers, inefficient working schedules, and low productivity. The pathology department develops a clear vision of change responding quickly to new opportunities, such as the rapid development of new products. Flexibility requires frequent use of matrix organizations, team systems, small circle activities, a good interface between departments, and participation in decision-making by members of the lower echelons of the hospital.

Susan Jones proposed a strategic plan aimed to improve productivity and the quality of services delivered. The first stage is to change the working schedule and introduce a more effective system of management. In general, the change strategy implemented by the hospital reflects Lewin’s model of change used for successful implementation of change (Collins and Porras 43). The 1 stage of this model takes place when staff senses the need to do work in a different way. The second stage begins while changes are being made in the behavior of medical professionals. The third stage, re-freezing, takes place when the changes are accepted as the new position by the medical staff affected by the change. The main areas of change will be human resources and technological innovations (Collins and Porras 43).

In the pathology department, staff feels that an old system of shift patterns is ineffective and does not meet new requirements. In the pathology department, human resource management is described with regard to the inadequacy of basic skills of entry-level employees focused on lower-level technician positions. A different set of challenges face managements in recruiting and particularly in retaining professional employees (Collins and Porras 43).

The task of change management is to introduce effective shift practices based on job evaluation analysis. In order to do so, the HR management organize several presentations involving staff in the process of change. The operational manager of the pathology department discusses circumstances and new work requirements with staff members. Susan Jones identifies that the pathology department will be confronted with changes in traditional career patterns under which it is assumed that a life’s work will involve vertical organizational progression to higher management.

Instead, the reality of the future is organizations that are flatter, with fewer organizational layers, and, consequently, the idea of horizontal careers. This situation is combined with workers who will increasingly demand change, choice, flexibility, and variety in their work (Beeson and Davis 178).

Resistance to change is expected so the hospital does everything possible to reduce negative feelings and attitudes towards a new system. “At first, there were some encouraging signs, thus no engagement had been reached” (Robotics, Resistance and Revolution 7). The main problem is that resistance to change spread to the whole unit. It is possible to say that in the pathology department, managers do not share this responsibility to some degree through negotiations or concessions but cannot forfeit it in the interest of participative management if they expect to run a viable operation. With the structuring in place, a managerial stance conducive to participation, as the employees perceive participation, is one of openness to the employees and of willingness to exchange ideas on job matters and to take ideas under genuine consideration for action.

Formal participation programs should evolve and the area of participation may expand, but assurances that participation will lead to greater motivation appear most certain when participation involves the employees’ own job. Also, the problem is that “communication between hospital management and staff in the unit had now become formalized and increasing mediated by representatives” (Robotics, Resistance and Revolution 10).

In order to resolve this situation, participation should be considered the vehicle for involving employees in broader organizational changes, but it would appear that the proposed changes must themselves appeal to the employee rather than deriving their strength strictly from the participative process itself (Handy 62). The changes will tend to lose motivational strength for typical employees the more remote the changes are from the employees’ job concerns. One characteristic of a job that receives little attention but is fundamental to employee performance is the very manageability of the job. When the cycle goes, change begets reaction, which begets change, which begets reaction, and so on.

They tend to resist it, as individuals and at the group level. Although education can be used to raise people’s consciousness about the benefits of change, training is required to provide them with the skills to implement it. For example, experience shows that a good way to overcome the resistance of medical professionals is to train them to use technology and computer systems. Occasionally, one encounters stiff resistance to attempts to measure work effort (Handy 89), They simply do not understand numbers and what they can do. Consequently, they have little appreciation of the power of measurement to help them function more effectively—or they accept numerical results too readily because they lack the competence to assess the genuine pitfalls of measurement.

All employees should be viewed as decision-makers. The traditional hierarchical organization typical for pathology departments does not operate effectively in a world characterized by constant dynamic change. Investing all power in the hands of top management implies that top management has the solutions to all problems.

The main drawback of the change strategy is that the HR department does not support and participate in robotic and tracking systems. Training and communication are made in isolation from operational strategies and goals. In order to improve the situation, the hospital needs a clear vision to direct change, orienting resource allocation to those niches where the department has the best chance of maintaining a competitive edge. “One of the main roles had been to ‘keep the momentum going” even when talks with staff were becoming bogged down in details” (Robotics, Resistance and Revolution 11).

This situation shows that the importance of manageability is abundantly clear to managers and employees but is not often noted in the theoretical literature (Handy 83), although one comprehensive model of factors affecting worker productivity does list “uncontrollable interference” (along with task capacity and individual effort) as a primary factor. Interestingly, rank-and-file employees are often better informed than their “superiors” in such circumstances since they have firsthand knowledge of a rapidly evolving situation. When change is rapid, it is tempting to adopt a short-term view of life. Change leads to uncertainty, and there is less uncertainty in the short run than in the long run (Handy 65).

Susan Jones decided to “continue to the bitter end” (Robotics, Resistance and Revolution 12). Close cooperation and collaboration with the HE department help to solve the problems of morale and culture, improve satisfaction and motivate employees. Organizational workforce requirements are becoming more technical while the qualified labor supply is diminishing (Schien 98). This is particularly problematic for hospitals where professional and technical personnel have been critical to the labor force for many years.

Management of the pathology department does not carry with it the absolute right to change whatever employee values managers find inconsistent with their own. In a general sense, they have the right, indeed the duty, to establish those operational controls they deem the health of the department to require and to insist on employee compliance with them. In short, they must “structure” the enterprise to a substantial extent (Schien 88).

The situation and problems in SE Hospital Trust show that change management should touch the culture and values of employees. A strong head office also makes it possible to close positions departments and to change competencies. An important trait of learning organizations is the ability of the head office to change competencies. For instance, it is possible to move away from old-fashioned techniques and methods and move into electronics, followed by systems and software (Handy 72).

A strong head office makes it possible to maintain effective collaboration between different professionals. A number of committees help to coordinate and control the activities. These include the operations committee, the research activity committee, and the medical examination committee. The advantage for the medical professionals is that they can choose their own opportunities; thus, potentially, greater motivation and respect for individuality. If a superior does not take good care of his subordinates, it is sometimes the case that they will rapidly transfer out of that section. The appraisal system is changing to place more emphasis on conceptual skills and an innovative attitude (Mondy et al 65; Klatt and Kumar 43).

The outcomes of the change management help the hospital and the pathology department to innovate and improve its working practices. The pathology department learns how and when to “go with the flow.” There are times when resistance to change can break them, just as a dry twig can be easily snapped with little pressure. Occasionally, it is appropriate to use change’s own momentum to direct it into desired channels.

A promising approach to going with the flow is rapid prototyping. This methodology entails involving other departments in defining requirements by having them react to tangible prototypes. Just as there are times when it is appropriate to go with the flow, there are also times when some degree of resistance to change is proper (Mondy et al 65). The case of the pathology department demonstrates that the gains are often achieved through bitter struggle and are often short-lived because today’s revolutionary becomes tomorrow’s reactionary (Sterman 72; Klatt and Kumar 23-24).

In sum, a rapidly changing environment spurs the appearance of new organizational systems, breaks down traditional classifications, alters organizations, influences their technology and methods of work, and accelerates research and development. Changing environments create opportunities that must be reflected in adaptive action. The change at the pathology department will help it to renovate and adapt to new conditions and medical needs.

Resources cannot merely be directed to the cultivation of old markets if competitive positions are to be enhanced. In a turbulent world, though, no one grasps more than a small fraction of the answers. In the future, the pathology department must plan to broaden the base of perceivers of dysfunctioning by stimulating and rewarding such people wherever they are found in the organization

Works Cited

  1. Beeson, I., Davis, Ch. 2000, “Emergence and accomplishment in organizational change”, Journal of Organizational Change Management. Vol. 13, iss. (2, 178-189.
  2. Collins, J., Porras, J. I. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. Collins, 2004.
  3. Schien, E. H. Organizational Culture and Leadership. Jossey-Bass, 1996.
  4. Handy, C.B. Understanding Organisations, Fourth EditionLondon: Penguin, 1993.
  5. Klatt, E. C., Kumar, V. Robbins and Cotran Review of Pathology. Saunders; 2 edition, 2004.
  6. Mondy, R. W., Noe, R. M., Premeaux, Sh. R. Human Resource Management. Prentice Hall College Div; 7th edition., 2001.
  7. Robotics, Resistance and Revolution. Kingston business School no 407 015 1, pp. 1-15.
  8. Sterman, J. D., Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World, Irwin McGraw-Hill, New York, 2000.