Introducing outside help to existing internal staff can be a tricky situation sometimes.
This is especially true when internal staff possess the ability to complete the service the outside vendor is coming in to do—they may take the decision personally. Those making the decision are often not the ones working alongside the vendor, but rather overseeing.
How does the decision maker get everyone to play nice together?
Communication, reason and trust.
Upfront. Early on. Open. Clear.
Surprises are not always appreciated. Bringing in a new vendor to which staff will be forced to work alongside is not the time for shock and awe.
Instead, provide your front-line staff your thoughts on the decision to seek outside assistance from the get-go. This provides them the time to process the idea, construct thoughtful questions and provide them time to adjust to the idea of the new normal before they are immersed within it.
Listen to their concerns and acknowledge them. This doesn’t mean you have to retract your plan to appease their feelings, but it may influence the decision making, planning or timing of the venture once their point of view is heard.
Provide current staff with the reasons why an outside partner is being brought in—do not assume they understand. To internal staff, their work is often their ‘baby’—they will not take lightly to having a stranger come in and mess with it.
Who can do it better than them? Who knows it inside and out like they do? Is their hard work not good enough or appreciated? As a decision maker, you most likely have a much different perspective on current situations than the front-lines.
Provide them with reasons to support the decision. Reiterate staff’s strengths and acknowledge areas for improvement. Staff may think the decision may be because they are not doing enough or performing high enough—often that is not the case.
Increase in demands/metrics/goals, higher volumes and growth and ability for flexibility are often common reasons which may not come to mind for front-line workers at first.
Current staff want a day off? Like the ability to not work weekends? Remind them that the work and measures are constant and by having additional outside support you are able to provide them with the work flexibility they desire.
Perhaps a staff member has an interest in advancing in position? This flexibility may provide the opportunity for internal career exploration as well. Highlight direct positive impacts for the internal staff as well as the organization as a whole.
Trust is built based on the completion of the first two points: Communication and Reason. Ensuring your current staff have trust in their leaders will make for a much more successful transition.
Remind staff that this decision is a benefit for everyone and this is not to be taken as a discrediting action. The vendor is here to compliment the work being done currently and will not replace the efforts the team currently brings forth.
It is not a competition, but a complementing partnership. Bring in staff to meet with the vendor prior to go-live; this may enhance the trust they have in the decision as they can address any questions staff may have first hand and a relationship can be developed early.
All of this being said, it loads great responsibility on the decision maker to make a careful selection on whom they chose to introduce into their work family and environment.
A vendor who seeks a meaningful partnership benefitting both sides is the goal. Seek a win-win relationship. A trusted partner who displays respect to both your needs and the needs and concerns of your working staff.
Ensuring that the vendor’s mission and values align with your own can provide referenceable insight into how well everyone will play together. Change the view on vendors from strangers invading the space to assets benefitting the entire team.
Nurture the relationship between staff and vendor and relish in the shared success.
Rachel’s background is in Health Information Management—she has spent the past 10 years involved in everything from hands on patient care to software development. She has extensive work experience with the revenue cycle and HIM functions; including coding, claim scrubbing, denials, physician training, transcription and dictation, records creation and retention, credentialing processes, portal development, coordination of departments and mentoring interns.