Published - March 1999

By Dave Jakielo


Change a word that that Webster defines as: to make different; to make a
shift from one to another. There are many more meanings but these are the
two I want to focus on for this month's article.

By the way the idea to write about change came from Sherri Dumford. Thank
you for your input. I always enjoy writing about a suggested topic.

Change is something that has always intrigued me. In my years with the
Medaphis corporation being responsible for 14 acquisitions, change would
always occur with every deal we closed. Many times I was the instigator
of change. Whether it was changing the management team, the software or
hardware systems or the employee benefit package. Change occurs, or as
some retort, "Change happens."

In today's turbulent business world change has gotten to be a way of
life. To be successful in business today you must be able to embrace
change or we used to refer to it as, "roll with the punches."

The concept of change can be looked at three ways. You can be one of
three types:

* Someone who makes things happen.
* Someone who watches things happen.
* Someone who wonders what happened.

The choice is yours as to which of the above categories you would like to
fall within.

Some may sit back and try to react to the outside environment. This is
known as playing catch up. Others examine what's happening around them
and convert change to opportunity. Remember the choice is yours you can
play the victim or take a proactive approach.

Some of the major changes that will effect our companies and us in the
next century are the following:

* Employee loyalty is a forgotten phrase
* Responsibilities are broadening
* Skills need upgraded
* We may need additional training
Let's examine each of the above independently.

Employee loyalty is a forgotten phrase: How can we expect employee
loyalty with the entire world downsizing, rightsizing or capsizing? In
many companies employees show up everyday wondering if this may be their
last day on the job.

Responsibilities are broadening: Remember when we could say, "We don't do
the coding the doctor does," thinking that we didn't have any liability.
Well the inspector general set us straight about this way of thinking.

Our skills need upgraded: Daily. I have been in this business so long I
remember when we had annual carrier updates. Now they seem to be on the
hour every hour and they are about as accurate as a five-day weather
forecast in Pittsburgh.

We need additional training: Look at the additional training we must
acquire or provide to our staffs. Compliance programs, Y2K testing,
negotiating managed care agreements, capitation analysis, etc., etc.
Every month seems to bring a new challenge. You cannot still embrace the
"ostrich method" or in other word keep your head in the sand. If you do
you're sure to fail in the future.

Now change isn't good or bad it just is. We can try to resist it but it
won't go away. A better strategy is to embrace it. Many people have
trouble dealing with change due to the fact that they take it personal.
They react to change like everyone is out to get them. Believe me third
party payers aren't out there scheming against us to make our lives
miserable. They aren't that bright. They are just trying to react to all
the changes they must face every day. Be it government regulation or
market variables.

So what are some strategies to deal with change rather than be a victim
of it?
* Control your attitude or don't lose your cool.
* Take ownership of the changes rather than letting them control you.
* Be tolerant of mistakes that will be made during change.
* Invent the future instead of trying to redesign the past.

Following the above won't guarantee that change won't occur. However,
following the above will give you an opportunity to be able to adapt and
be proactive. Only you can decide if you want to be a person who makes
things happen or someone who wonders what happened.

Remember this monthly feature will address topics of interest to you. I really appreciate your input and suggestions. Please send your questions or ideas on topics that you would like addressed, to: Dave Jakielo, Seminars, Training and Consulting, 86 Hall Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15205-3214. Phone and Fax number 412-921-0976. Email = - - HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY. Have a green beer for me.

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