Innovate or Die. Often the mantra of CEOs and entrepreneurs. Stagnation of ideas and lack of change leads to lost market share, drop in retention rates in both clients and employees, and simply isn’t smart business. This is also true on a personal level. Nothing happens in the comfort zone – right? When we resist change we get stuck, resulting in lack of forward movement. That comfort zone could also be your danger zone. How often have you missed an amazing opportunity because you were afraid? Missed out on reaching a goal because you didn’t push yourself just a bit harder – a bit outside what you deem “easy”?
Let’s talk business…
Change, although the basis for business growth and scaling, is often quite taxing on front line employees and those who manage them. This stress then trickles up to middle management, directors, and c-suites if it isn’t handled correctly. When stress overtakes a company, the change is debilitating and often ends with less than stellar results. I’ve often seen divisions dispersed, teams laid off, and in some cases companies sold because they were unable to embrace the change that was needed for the company to not only thrive, but survive.
Does this sound familiar? Have you ever been caught up in the mayhem of mismanaged business growth where you felt like you were tossed to the wolves or worse yet – forgotten about? You aren’t alone.
It’s not all doom and gloom, in fact, the onslaught of millennials in the workforce has eased what I like to call “change tension” in some work environments. Why? Gen X and Gen Y employees were raised in a high-tech world and are accustomed to the constant barrage of information, changing management systems, and workflows. It’s become part of their life. Note I said some work environments – not all.
Leadership teams who embraced the concept of “Change Agents” a decade ago when Millennials were entering the workforce in large numbers, virtual teams were beginning to take hold, and technology seemed to seep its way into every department are in a far better place than those who decided to remain status quo. Embracing meant not only identifying that change was, and is, necessary but that change by nature is disruptive. Most of us are creatures of habit and garner comfort from the security of consistency – knowing what is going to happen, who we will be working and feeling confident our future is secure. Leaders who understand those basic human needs will be able to lead teams through change with effectiveness and grace!
Companies and leaders who have resisted change in the past – is there hope for the future? Can new habits be learned – the answer is YES! For companies, it requires a commitment from top leadership – c-suites down to middle management in order to effectively turn the tides of a culture resistant to change. On a personal level, it requires an openness to do things differently and be open to coaching. The key on any level is communication, and a lot of it.
- Transparency and authenticity from the CEO. They need to have some skin in the game and be in the trenches with their team. Leaders have got to be involved and not only tell the team why change is important, but they need to SHOW their team they are committed to the process.
- Strategic Plan. Any change can be disruptive, so it is imperative to have an overarching strategic roll out plan, including time frames, KPI’s, assets needed, and who is responsible for tasks along the way. Leaders not only need to own their part of the process but they need to empower their team members to do the same. Avoiding micromanaging and allowing failure – it’s all part of the growth you’ll experience along the way!
- Facilitation. Bringing in a third-party facilitator allows EVERYONE in the company the opportunity to have a sounding board, a think tank, and an advisor.
- Team meetings, retreat, and support. Major change – be it from a technology standpoint, new leadership, or mergers & acquisitions require a lot of hand holding, patience and support. You can’t roll out a new policy, process, and/or procedure without putting yourself in EVERY employee’s shoes to understand where the roadblocks may be preventing them from succeeding. This means empowering team leaders to take on the task of mentor and trainer.
- Assess, iterate, repeat. Nothing is ever perfect out of the gate. It’s important to get feedback, change as needed, and repeat until workflows are efficient and optimum. Having third party support for management teams during this process will help shorten the iteration phase
Change, albeit difficult for many, is an inevitable part of any thriving company and for that matter an individual in personal growth mode! Following some basic rules of engagement will not only help facilitate the change process for teams in a more effective and efficient way, it will improve the quality of your company culture dramatically.
On a personal level, resist resisting! By embracing change and conquering your fears you’ll be amazed at your new-found confidence and the profound affect it has on your life and in turn career.