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Leadership and the Art of Positive Thinking: the Sunny Side of EHR Adoption

grass-and-blue-sky-banners-10096636It is so easy to slip into negative thinking when walking the dusty trail of adopting an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system within your behavioral healthcare practice. But this type of thinking and talking can actually result in poorer self-esteem in the workplace and reduce performance during this often challenging time of change.

There is a large and growing body of research on the measurable impact a positive mind-set has on workplace satisfaction and performance. At a minimum, these findings suggest that workplace enthusiasm – and, on the flip side, negativity – impact organizational productivity.

Transforming the Leader/Transformational Leadership

Organizational leaders during a massive technological overhaul – such as adopting a new EHR – are asked to show more composure than perhaps ever before in the workplace. Adoption of a new system requires patience to minimize the impact of uncertainty among coworkers amidst the already existing day-to-day demands of your practice.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows that Americans presently feel worse about their jobs and work environments than ever before. People are unhappy with their supervisors, apathetic about their organizations, and detached from what they do. And when people don’t care about their jobs or their employers, their work quality suffers. And in the field of mental and behavioral healthcare, this can have imaginable seismic effects.

Positive thinking may seem like small potatoes in light of what appears to be a societal epidemic. But it can make a big difference in a company’s survival.  The overall health of an individual’s inner life has a profound impact on creativity, productivity, relationships, and commitment. Employees are far more likely to perform better when they are engaged happily in what they do.

In another study, “The Progress Principle,” Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile, and independent researcher Steven Kramer found that a clear pattern emerged when analyzing workday events: of all the events that engage people at work, the single most important — by far — is making progress in meaningful work.

What this means for EHR adoption, is that – in the long run – if workers experience this process as meaningful, even the struggles involved will often be followed by joy and excitement about their work.

And leaders and administrators can help support happy engagement in this process.

Employees want to be part of a workplace culture where they can be a part of something meaningful and are supported in doing their best work. In today’s evolving work environment it’s clear that leadership is not only about elevating performance, aptitude, and development of staff – but about addressing obstacles, providing help, and acknowledging effort. Sometimes, in the case of EHR adoption, all that’s required is that leadership addresses daily hassles and help with technical problems while not surrendering to the sometimes challenging circumstances.

EHR adoption is just the sort of promised challenge that can pull a leader into a make or break scenario of employee and workplace well-being. The process can be an inspiring time of yes, struggle, but also one of surmounting challenges and keeping sight of positive changes to come. When leadership maintains this light at end of tunnel focus, energies that would be wasted on complaints and destructive thinking can instead concentrate on surmounting struggles – in the end effectively making vast changes in attitude within workplace.

On the Other Hand…

hands-holding-seedleng-100218982Fixating too forcefully on a sunny side philosophy can distort administration’s overall mission to successfully implement an EHR within the organization.  Leadership consumed with keeping it light and bright is more likely to cut corners, set unrealistic goals, and steer clear of confronting the stickier side of major workplace change.  From this perspective, positive thinking seems less like an expression of joy and more like a stressful effort to stamp out any trace of negativity.

Balancing the positive with the negative, optimism with pessimism, a striving for success and security with openness to failure and uncertainty includes leaders deliberately visualizing worst-case scenarios of EHR adoption.  In fact, doing so tends to reduce anxiety about the future: when as a group the workplace soberly pictures how badly things could go, they usually conclude that they could cope.

Introducing a new EHR into the workplace is an opportunity for leaders to play the edge of the light and the dark; not by ignoring unpleasant possibilities or situations as they arise, or by refusing to acknowledge and address them, but by turning nonjudgmentally towards them and overcoming them.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

With a realistically positive mindset, adversity can be viewed through a lens of opportunity. Change within the workplace – particularly one that aims to ultimately liberate caregivers in doing their jobs more effortlessly and effectively – can lead to positive outcomes. Leadership that takes a step back and demonstrates emotional self-control during challenging times builds an atmosphere of safety where work relationships stand up to the test of discord.  This constructively impacts workplace culture at present and down the line. Whereas leadership that allows feelings of uncertainty and frustration to lead also quickly set the tone for therapists and direct care staff.

How to…

If you wake up in the morning dreading a crisis involved with becoming familiar with your organization’s new EHR, you probably think having a positive attitude toward this is about as realistic as creating your own retinue of minions.  But even if you’re not thrilled with how your practice has been coping with EHR adoption up to this point, there are some techniques that you can do to turn it around from here.

Step 1: Take accountability

Leaders are most composed during times of change when they are fully committed to resolving the issue at hand. By being accountable – having made the decision to assume responsibility and take the required steps to problem solve before the situation gets out of hand – problems quickly begin to neutralize.  Accountability is an aspect of positive thinking that includes patience, active listening, and a compassionate approach to addressing the hardships that others in the workplace are experiencing during EHR adoption.

Step 2: Accentuate the Positive (without ignoring the negative)

Prepare yourself to confront negative talk and take the lead on restoring positive thinking. Employees are closely watching the actions, behavior, relationships, and overall demeanor of those in leadership positions. During the most difficult of times, leaders that maintain a positive attitude and manage a narrative that keeps their employees inspired and hopeful more effectively neutralize the strife that may accompany EHR implementation.

Step 3:  Don’t Take Things Personally

It’s difficult to maintain composure and objectivity when we begin to take things personally. The decisions and circumstances that led to EHR adoption don’t always play out logically because office politics and other dynamics that factor into the process. But when we allow personalities and politics to suffocate decision-making capabilities we also find it easy to lose calm during times of crisis and change. A show of composure puts other staff at ease and creates a safe and secure workplace culture where no one need panic in the face of adversity.

As Always…

…we’re here to help.

At everythingEHR we encourage a realistically positive outlook for managers leading their practice through EHR adoption. Our advisors support organizations in finding effective strategies to turn what could be a troubling time into a period of growth, rapport building, and achievement. It is our hope that we may better assist the mental and behavioral healthcare community in taking steps to constructively impact their organization.

Please feel free to reach out by emailing us and Don’t Leave Home Without Your Must Ask Questions!


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