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A Sterile Processing Manager’s guide to introducing new products and processes.

"Yeah, we don't like those things."

by Ryan Weiers

You’ve heard it from your staff so many times: “Yeah, we don’t like those things". “They don’t work right.” “They take too long to use.” “They fall off." “They’re an added step.” “They don’t come off.” “They don’t fit our ____ trays.” “We like the old way better.” "We're not using them."

These common rejections to new products or processes are predictable, and the staff who reject them are usually the loudest. Most people don’t love change, so it should be no surprise that some on your staff would prefer to keep the status quo. You expect that, but are your prepared for it?

What do you do when your staff are trialing a new product or process that you know has merit? It could save time and resources in the long run, improve patient or staff safety, or maybe even comply with a new hospital or industry policy? Do you toss it out on the work table and see who goes for it? Do you give it to your lead tech and ask them to feel out the rest of the staff? What do you do when the first rejection comes in? Do you give up on it and go back to the old way? Of course not, you are a leader. You know it is best to educate and persist when changes to products or processes are valuable.

Here is a quick guide to leading change implementation you can try next time. SPOILER ALERT...it works:

  1. Spread faith in the future. You are implementing this new product or process to make things better, not worse. Make sure your staff has a vision for what these improvements will look like and build their confidence that you all will get there together. The future is bright, my friends!
  2. Tell them why. Don’t assume your staff get it, or even heard you the first time. You’re trialing this new product or process for a reason. You have probably been researching and thinking about it for a while. They have not. Tell them why you know it is a good move, and repeat the message as often as necessary. They will get there faster if they understand why.
  3. Acknowledge that change can be hard. No use pretending this transition is going to be smooth; it’s likely not, at least, not for everyone. Get it front of some of the potential roadblocks by explaining what they may not like at first. Share details of common challenges. You can diffuse a lot of rejection by getting these out in the open at the beginning. 
  4. Encourage their effort. Very little of significance is accomplished without effort. Challenge is a part of progress.
  5. Measure the wins. What does success look like? Define it. Measure it if you can. Draw attention to it when you meet a benchmark, goal, or level of success you envisioned at the beginning. You can't get there until you know where there is, right?
  6. Celebrate! It is so obvious and so often overlooked. Don’t trivialize the importance of recognizing the accomplishments. Celebration builds team unity and sets the groundwork for the next change improvement. Plus, it’s fun. 

Leading your staff through change implementation will go a long way in developing a standard practice, saving you time, effort and money, or improving patient and staff safety. Making your leadership investment early pays dividends.

GHS introduces new solutions for Sterile Processing all the time. It’s what we do. We have heard hundreds of common staff rejections to new products and processes, and have seen how managers like you best work through them to increase productivity and safety. Please let us know how we can help you. We are here for you. Good Luck!



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