Executive Director Blog: Endings and Beginnings, Working through Change

Written by Nicole Chammartin, Executive Director of SERC and Klinic Community Health

I have been thinking about change a lot lately.   I imagine it is something that happens to many of us at the start of a new year– we have been socialized to this idea of resolution and rebirth, that with each new year we have an opportunity to start anew.

I am a person who tends to embrace change; I love the idea that it is an opportunity, that we can in fact completely re-envision ourselves or what we do in a better way, when we put our minds to it.   I know this experience is not true for everyone.  I also know that with every change there is also an opportunity for grief and loss, because something new inherently means something has been left behind.

This week the Klinic and SERC management teams participated in a one-day workshop on change management.  This is something that we had identified as important in our work plans in order to ensure that when we are planning changes we are doing so in a manner that best supports successful change, and the people who need to be a part of that change.   The focus of the workshop was how to plan change in a way that increases the chances of its success, but even more so, how to create supportive environments for change.

Holly Banner Director of Finance & Human Resources and Jannell Plouffe, Director of Health Services

Holly Banner, Director of Finance & Human Resources for Klinic and SERC and Jannell Plouffe, Director of Health Services for Klinic

We focused heavily on the stages of change, something that we often talk to our clients about when working with issues like addictions or abuse, but I think it is something that we often forget also applies to ourselves, our colleagues, our organizations.   One of the quotes that stuck with me from the day is “every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end”- we must have endings to have beginnings.

Both SERC and Klinic are organizations that have histories of adapting to change and  leading change by engaging and responding to our communities; these are organizations that have risen to the challenge of being adaptive, of listening, of growing.  We embrace the culture of asking, how can we do more? It is a challenge that greets us, every day. It also means that sometimes we have to ask, what can we let go of? How will we have to change? These can be very hard conversations.

At both of these organizations 2017 will mean further opportunities for change, and likely some endings and beginnings.  SERC is now finalizing the operational plan to support our new strategic plan (here is a link to my previous blog about this) and it comes with some real challenges and opportunities.   This week our education team met to talk about how we will start to do some of this work, for example, how we ensure we are best using our resources to meet the requests we get?  When do we say no? How do we support communities to develop their own capacity? What are our gaps? The team talked about excitement and readiness, and they talked about trepidation and worries, because with new beginnings there are some endings, and there are some unknowns.

SERC folks in the boardroom

SERC folks in the boardroom

In just a couple of weeks Klinic will hold our annual all staff meeting where we will come together to look at the Board’s recommended strategic directions, which were drafted this fall after survey consultations with staff and our community.  Klinic’s new five year plan will likely come with some opportunities and changes, some beginnings and even some endings, but it will be built on what has not changed, our core values as an organization- which I believe is nicely summed up in our tagline: Just Care, for Everyone.

This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in what I hope what will be a new change that becomes an annual tradition: Klinic’s post-holiday gathering, which was pulled together by several awesome team members from multiple Klinic programs, and is a great reminder that some changes and beginnings can actually be really fun.