Managing organisational change in the NDIS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
This module is for people who have management responsibilities in their organisation, for example team leaders and program managers.
The information in this module is general in nature. Every organisation does things differently and has different policies and procedures, so please interpret the content in this module with your organisation in mind and discuss any discrepancies with your line manager.
Duration: Approximately 30 minutes (note. you can close the training and pick up where you left off at a later date).
Last updated: 6 July 2020
Content and links in this training were correct at the time of publication. We check these regularly; however, if you find broken links or errors please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Topic 1 of 10
Image of brick wall
Who is this training for?
We have designed this training for people who have management responsibilities in organisations that are providing NDIS services. This training is for you if:
Your role involves managing others within your organisation and/or
You have a leadership position within your organisation.
Image of light bulb
This module aims to help you to understand how people respond to change at work and give you some tools to lead and manage staff successfully during this time. By the end of this module you will:
Understand how people respond to change
Understand how leadership and culture can impact people's responses to change
Know what you can do to support your team.
Change and the NDIS
Topic 2 of 10
The NDIS is a major reform of the way people access and provide disability supports. The reform has led to changes for people with a disability, families, carers, staff, service providers and the disability sector broadly.
Sector & Workforce NDIS
The NDIS aims to grow the disability workforce which means:
new government agency (the NDIA)
Staff who work for NDIS providers will need to:
understand the new system and what it means for them day-to-day
understand their new roles and responsibilities in the NDIS
support participants and families to understand the NIDS
adjust to a new working environment and billable hours
Service providers who want to provide NDIS services will need to modify their businesses so that:
their service delivery approach matches the aims of the NDIS
they have appropriate administrative systems to allow them to record and charge for NDIS services
they can market their services to NDIS participants
they can provide services in a fee for service funding environment
they are no longer reliant on block funding
Participants and Families
The NDIS aims to improve social and economic participation for people living with a disability.
People with a disability will need to learn about the NDIS and apply to access the new system.
People who have an NDIS plan will be able to choose their services and supports to match their needs. They will need to learn about the new approach and learn how to choose and manage their supports.
Reforms of this size and nature cannot happen overnight. The NDIS is continually evolving and growing. We can expect to see ongoing change in the sector for many years.
Image of Change (words in yellow and orange)
The impact of the NDIS on each organisation will vary. While there are some common factors (e.g., a changed funding approach, learning the new NDIS processes), what it means for the day-to-day operations of each organisation will vary (e.g., hiring new staff, implementing new client management systems, changing service focus). The focus of this module therefore is on supporting staff during times of change more broadly rather than on understanding how to manage a specific change project.
How do people respond to change?
Topic 3 of 10
"The best tool for leaders of change is to understand the predictable, universal sources of resistance to change and then strategise around them."
- Lisa Quast (2012), Overcome the 5 Main Reasons People Resist Change, Forbes Magazine
Image of tiger
Evidence from decades of research tells us that human beings are wired to resist changes. We avoid things that will be disruptive or threatening to our lives, and give preference to things that make us feel safe, comfortable and in control.
Resisting changes that happen in the workplace is a normal human response. It is also one of the major reasons why many organisational change initiatives fail to meet their objectives.
However, to be a successful manager in an organisation undergoing change, understanding the ways people resist change, and finding ways to address this, is crucial.
What types of things influence people's reactions to change?
Different perceptions of the impact of a change will often impact the way people respond. When people suspect the change will negatively impact them or people they care about, they are more likely to be negative about the change overall.
Other individual factors include a person’s readiness to change, the extent to which they think the change is needed, and their openness to change more broadly.
The extent to which people believe that leaders within the organisation support the change will often have a significant impact on the way they feel about the change.
The extent to which leaders involve their employees in the changes and consult on important decisions will also influence the way people feel about changes.
Cultures of negativity and mistrust often result in people feeling more negative about the changes. When the proposed changes clash with the values of the organisation this can also be a big problem.
Source: Oreg, S., Vakola, M. and Armenakis, A., 2011. Change recipients’ reactions to organizational change: A 60-year review of quantitative studies. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 47(4), pp.461-524.
When people feel negatively about a change it can cause problems for the organisation and employee well-being. When not properly managed change resistance can result in:
1 Decreased productivity
2 Disruptive or negative work behaviours and attitudes
3 Failure for changes to 'stick' or to integrate successfully
4 Increased turnover
5 Burnout and exhaustion
Insights into change and the NDIS
What are providers worried about?
Participants missing out on services
Loss of jobs, or changes to job security
Changing work conditions
Changes to organisational values
Learning about the NDIS and understanding NDIS processes
What are providers positive about?
New opportunities for participants
Increased choice and control for participants
Potential for innovative service delivery
Source: provider feedback shared with the Transition Support Project
The good news is there are many ways that the negative side-effects of change can be managed to support staff and the organisation to thrive in the NDIS.
Topic 4 of 10
‘Research on emotional contagion shows that people ‘catch’ feelings from others. Negative feelings spread like wildfire. If you frequently express frustration, that emotion will infect your team members. Before you know it you will have created a culture of frustration.'
- Barsade, S & O'Neill O (2016) 'Manage your emotional culture' Harvard Business Review v58
Image of group of young people
In our staff surveys we found that people who believed that their managers and colleagues were positive about the NDIS were also significantly more likely to feel positive about the NDIS themselves. This is consistent with a large body of research which shows that when leaders support the change - their employees are more likely to as well.
As a leader, what can you do to help create a culture of positivity around changes in your organisation?
Be mindful of the impact of your emotions
Ultimately, the more positivity you can spread about changes within the organisation, the better your team will feel about them. Find ways to emphasise the benefits, rather than the negatives wherever possible, and be mindful of the impact of your emotions on your team.
Understand the reason for the changes
Often people will resist changes when they don't see a reason for the change. As a leader it is important that you understand why changes are happening in your organisation and share this with your team.
Keep an eye out for examples of successes or little wins and share these with your team. You can do this by:
chatting to colleagues about success in other teams or organisations e.g., a positive NDIS participant story, an example of a rise in business due to the NDIS.
looking on the NDIS website for stories and encouraging your team to do the same.
asking your team to reflect on things that have gone well (practicing gratitude) and make these types of discussions a regular part of your team meetings.
Find outlets for your own emotions
What if you are worried about the changes too? Should you fake it for the sake of morale?
The short answer is no you shouldn't - surface acting and hiding your true feelings will appear disingenuous and could lead to burnout for you. However, you do need to be mindful of the impact of your emotions on your team. Find other outlets for your emotions or talk to your supervisors if you have concerns.
Example resource - positive stories
I’ve been able to get services in place for people that they never had access to before.
‘I had participants who day-to-day had nothing to do, or no interest in getting out of their house, and I had no way to encourage them to dream bigger.
‘Now they’re into photography, going bushwalking, things that I never ever could have offered them previously because the services just weren’t available.
So, I’m seeing fabulous outcomes for people, it’s definitely a positive thing from my perspective.
Provider story shared with the Transition Support Project
Topic 5 of 10
No news is bad news
Image of kid singing into a microphone
Often when things are uncertain it can be tempting to stay quiet until you have something more concrete to share. In the NDIS world - where many of us are struggling to keep up with the changes - staying silent only fuels the rumour mill.
Here are a few things you can do to keep the lines of communication open:
Keep up the team meetings/supervision meetings - a chance to regularly check-in can reassure everyone that they are being kept in the loop even if there are uncertainties.
Be honest - it is ok not to have all the answers, you can problem solve in the meantime.
Ask for feedback - communication is a two-way street - and help people to feel comfortable to speak up about their concerns and use your active listening skills.
Be clear, up front, and concise - employees need to understand the change, how it impacts them and what is expected of them.
Struggling to find the time?
Image of two people at laptop
The NDIS will change the way a lot of people work. With an increased focus on billable hours it can be tempting to let regular team meetings, supervision or other communication activities slide. However, you can still reap the benefits of regular communication without needing to dedicate a lot of time to it.
In a 2015 Gallup study of 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries, researchers found that when supervisors had some form of daily communication with their staff - workforce engagement improved.
So how can you keep up the interaction whilst under time pressure?
Make the most of technology - there are many ways that people can stay in touch in groups nowadays to share ideas. Have a look into some online chat platforms that would suit your team's needs.
Schedule regular but quick catch ups - meetings don't always need to last an hour and follow an agenda. Try scheduling brief meetings more regularly (e.g. stand up meetings, work in progress meetings) that allow people to 'touch base' about what they are up to and share any ideas/questions they have.
Use travel time wisely - with lots of safe options for talking while driving why not use travel time for supervision or other catch ups?
Support training opportunities
Topic 6 of 10
Confusion, perceived lack of control and role ambiguity all contribute to ineffective change management and employee resistance. It is important that managers provide adequate support and training to build employee confidence and capability to accomplish change successfully.
Ewin & Garmin (2010) 'Resistance to organisational change: linking research and practice' Leadership and Organisational Development Journal v31
Image of man sitting on chair with papers flying everywhere
There is a lot of new information to learn for people working in the NDIS space. Ensuring your staff have access to information that can help them to do their jobs day-to-day is crucial.
Make the most of online resources
Here is a quick summary of some of the key resources for providers in the mental health sector that you might find helpful to recommend to staff.
Image of keyboard
Our website is designed specifically to meet the information needs of staff working in the community mental health sector. There are a range of online training modules (like this one!) which address each stage of the NDIS pathway from a provider perspective.
A lot of information about the NDIS, particularly updates or policy changes, is often shared via email bulletins and newsletters. Encourage staff to be registered to receive these emails. Important contacts include:
The NDIA provider newsletters and NDIA general newsletters (for updates to provider processes, general changes to the NDIS and good news stories)
National and/or state peak bodies for the mental health sector (often share sector relevant updates and opportunities for provider consultation)
Image of email icon
Mental health and the NDIS | NDIS
Psychosocial disability is a term used to describe a disability that may arise from a mental health issue. Information about accessing the NDIS; what is recovery; what supports the NDIS funds; factsheets and resources.
READ MORE NDIS
reimagine | Mental health, my recovery and the NDIS
people living with mental health conditions and their support networks
READ MORE REIMAGINE
"It is great getting the chance to network with, and learn from, other providers. Even when things are unclear it is encouraging to learn that we are all in the same boat."
Provider feedback, Transition Support Project event
Image of people sitting outside at table drink coffee and working with laptop
Keep an eye out for ways for you and your staff to build your networks in your local area. Attending networking events can help staff to:
learn from other providers in the NDIS
learn that they are not alone - uncertainty is normal
build strong networks in your region
problem solve and share resources
Involve people in the change
Topic 7 of 10
The critical role of consultation
Image of letter box on fence with words “feedback”
All the main change models emphasise one common thing - the importance of authentically involving staff in the changes. Often when changes are not successful it is because staff were not consulted about the change and its implications.
In the NDIS environment there will be changes beyond your control (this is when your ability to communicate, listen and support training will come in handy!). However, genuine consultation on any changes you do make, or are involved in, as a manager is the cornerstone of effective change management and critical for getting people on board. Top tips for effective consultation are:
Create opportunities for staff to comment on changes and make suggestions (e.g., at team meetings, by creating working groups, through staff surveys).
Listen and acknowledge what has been said - summarise the key issues and report them back (e.g., we know you are concerned about x, because of y, here is what we will do next).
Take action - show people how their concerns are being addressed and what decisions have been made in the change process.
The psychologically safe workplace
Image of red circle with person in middle with “trust”
In order for employees to feel involved in changes happening at work, and to address genuine concerns, it is important that you create an environment where people feel comfortable to speak up - this is often referred to as a psychologically safe workplace - and the benefits include:
increased creativity (people are comfortable expressing ideas)
reduced turnover and increased job satisfaction (people feel that their opinion is valued)
increased productivity (people are engaged with their work).
Importantly, psychological safety is not an 'anything goes' environment. Rather, it is about establishing mutual respect.
Company culture should call for managers to communicate expectations clearly, and listen to and value the opinions of their employees. No one wants to feel like they are ignored.
- Gallup (2017) 'State of the Global Workplace' page 88
Transformative versus transactional leadership
Creating workplaces where people feel comfortable speaking up can be easier said than done. Hierarchical cultures and some manager behaviours and expectations can often discourage people from using their initiative and putting forward their ideas.
Image of A 3-minute video about two different leadership styles - which one do you think is best for managing change?
What is your management style?
Becoming a truly effective manager requires a great deal of self-reflection, observation, and growth.
- Jennifer Stine, How Self-Awareness Makes you a Better Manager, Blog, Harvard Business School
Consider the video you just watched. It may come as no surprise to you that management styles that are more consultative and collaborative (as opposed to directive or coercive) are better for managing change and for creating more psychologically safe workplaces. So how can you get insight into your own management style?
Pay attention to cues from your staff - do people seem hesitant to speak up or offer ideas? What do you think is contributing to this?
Ask staff or your supervisors for feedback - what do they think your strengths as a manager are?
Take time to reflect - this easy and quick emotional intelligence quiz created by the Harvard Business Review provides great insight and development areas for you to consider.
Create a culture of self-care
Topic 8 of 10
Image of water bottle, window with sun, house plant, drink water, get sunlight and you’re basically a house plant with more complicated emotions.
Research consistently shows higher levels of burnout and stress in people who work in mental health settings compared to other health professions. Supporting staff wellbeing is important- particularly during times of high stress - for example during times of change.
Morse, G., M. et al (2012). "Burnout in Mental Health Services: A Review of the Problem and Its Remediation." 39(5): 341-352.
Self-care and stress
Image of hands around a heart
There is a well-established link between self-care activities and stress reduction. These activities include:
getting enough sleep
taking time to do the things you enjoy
getting fresh air and exercise
When people are stressed and busy at work it can be hard to prioritise these activities. However, if stress isn't managed it can have drastic impacts for individuals and the business. As a manager, it is important that you build a culture that encourages people to engage in self-care activities.
Watch for warning signs
Regularly check-in with your team and watch for warning signs of work-related stress. Things to look out for include:
lack of focus
constant tiredness or depressed mood
anger, hostility or cynicism
frequent absenteeism/sick days
feelings of incompetence and/or consistently doubting own performance/abilities
loss of pride in work.
Model self-care behaviours
When we talk about organisational culture we are talking about the 'unspoken' rules at work. In short, people will decide what behaviours are acceptable based on the behaviour of their leaders and their colleagues. If you want people to prioritise self-care then you have to demonstrate that you genuinely believe it is important, and that you do it too!
interactive image, click to learn what you can do to build a culture of self-care at work
image of clock
Gone are the days when working long hours was seen as a badge of honour. If you talk about working late nights and weekends you are subconsciously setting the expectation that your team should do this too.
Many organisations now prioritise working sensible hours to stay on top of your game. As a manager it is important that your team see you leave on time and keep appropriate hours so that they feel comfortable doing it too.
Read more about “leaving loudly” link to article
Image of aeroplane
Encourage your employees to take their leave (you can always have discussions about when is best to do this) and make sure you do the same.
If you are sick – take your sick leave – “soldiering on” only sends the message that you expect the same of your staff.
Image of two people talking
Encourage people to talk about the things they do for fun, and make sure you do the same. Make it clear that there is more to life than work!
Culture is what really defines how much latitude people have in terms of managing their work and non-work demands, whether or not there’s a policy on the books.
- Monique Valcour (2014), Give your organization a work-life vision, Harvard Business Review
Know what help is available
Does your organisation have an employee assistance program (EAP)? If so, make sure that your staff know about this too. There are also a range of online resources and help lines that you can promote if people are struggling. Beyond Blue, for example, have a program called 'Heads up' which focuses on supporting employees and employers to create mentally healthy workplaces.
Image of fireman working
Heads Up gives individuals and businesses tools to create mentally healthy workplaces.
READ MORE HEADSUP
Topic 9 of 10
Topic 10 of 10
Certificate of completion
Complete our feedback survey and download a certificate of completion for your records.
Button: go to survey