The Peak Leadership Summit is underway in Washington, D.C. and hundreds of elder care leaders are gathered to learn and share current challenges in the field.  This afternoon, participants heard from Dan Heath, who shared highlights of his recent book Switch.

Here are his seven strategies  for leading change in challenging times:

1)      Know what the goal is. Whether it’s a culture change initiative or a campaign to increase hand washing among clinical staff, be crystal clear about the end point that you are trying to reach.

2)      Provide scripts for core behaviors. By letting people know exactly what is expected of them, they are more likely to be able to achieve and sustain organizational change.

3)      Pay attention to what is working. When someone complains about service, you probably try to identify the staff involved. If someone praises the service they have received, it is important to recognize that staff person. Focus on what people and the institution are doing right in regard to the issue you are seeking to improve.

4)      Break change into actionable steps. When clear actionable steps aren’t provided, people feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin. By providing small steps, you can help your staff implement the desired change on a daily basis.

5)      Find out what sort of feelings are motivating your staff. Tap into the positive emotions that can provide internal motivation to excel.

6)      Use behavioral conditioning. The behaviors and moods of others are contagious. Make the desired behaviors and changes visible and staff will model and reinforce change.

7)      Use environmental cues to action. If you are trying to get clinical staff to wash their hands for a certain period of time, install automatic faucets that dispense water for that period of time. If clinical staff should use a paper towel to open a door handle, provide a trashcan near the door. These types of simple environmental cues to action reinforce messaging and help people achieve change.

Interested in learning more? Check out Dan’s book or consider joining the EAHSA meeting that will feature sessions on culture change.

Dan Heath talks with a  workshop participant.