When your workplace has issues, it's no use banging your head against the same old wall. You need fresh ideas to make your workplace function better -- and that's where evidence-based practice can come into play. At its most basic, evidence-based practice means using a body of research and its findings to determine the best course of action. By tapping into the research that relates to your industry, you may be able to find solutions that will help make everyone's job easier and more productive.
Identify the problem your workplace is facing. Hold a staff meeting and ask workers to weigh in on what the problems are in your workplace, and what solutions they may propose to solve the problem. Workers may or may not come up with viable solutions, but by making it clear that you want them involved in the process, they may be more open to changes later on. Also keep in mind that some workers may be unwilling to share ideas publicly, so also create a mechanism to allow workers to contribute problems and solutions anonymously.
Study the research available in your industry to find possible solutions to your problem. If you're in the health care field, you'll likely find multiple approaches to solve your problem, since the amount of research out there -- published on sites such as PubMed -- is pretty overwhelming. If you're in sales or some other non-technical field, it may be more difficult to find research on your topic, but check out technical manuals, scholarly journals, trade associations or business consultants with whom you work to identify as many solutions as you can.
Assemble the body of research and best practices you've uncovered into a coherent presentation you can present to your staff or your management team. If you have multiple approaches to consider, create a "pros and cons" list for each solution to allow staff members to understand each option. Ask workers to consider each option and to share their preferred options, either in a group setting or through your anonymous system.
Decide on the best solution after considering the opinions and preferences of the staff members involved.
Create an action plan for implementing the new solution. To do this effectively, you'll need to apply some of the same critical thinking skills that went into the original best-practice research. Look at the solution from all angles, considering how it will affect staff, your workplace and the customer, as well as the time frame for doing it and how you'll communicate the change to all people involved.
Present your action plan in a way that will be easy for all people involved to understand. Hold staff meetings, send out descriptive emails, create poster diagrams, or create a series of web pages that detail the changes and why you're implementing them. Including that "why" factor may make the transition easier, since it helps people understand why you're making the changes.
- Depending on your industry, another option may be to incorporate evidence-based practice with your customers. Create a form or other reporting mechanism that allows them to give you feedback on their experience and suggest ways to improve your services.
- As you tackle issues at work, don't take on too much at one time. Humans can only process small bits of information at a time, so asking your staff or your customers to provide feedback on too many factors may make them feel overwhelmed -- and your process may suffer.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.