“If the rate of change outside your business is greater than the rate of change inside your business, then you’re out of business.” – Anonymous
I was fortunate to recently be involved in some strategy development with a company whose leader and board of directors were very engaged. Part of the discussion eventually came around to a segment of the business that was not performing the way they would like. After getting past the initial frustration, this group set out a clear path for change. The specifics will be different in each of our businesses, but three general things they focused on are good for all of us to remember.
People Need to Know Change is Necessary. This client started with clearly communicating to the people involved what is expected, and why it was important that the change happen. Too many times we just assume people know what they should be doing or what is expected of them. But do they? And how often do we try to implement change in our organizations because we think it’s important, without stopping to explain to the people who actually have to make the change why it matters?
What’s In It For Them. As leaders, we think we have all kinds of reasons why it’s great for the company that some kind of change happen. But what’s really in it for your people? If you can’t or don’t clearly lay out for them how they personally will benefit, all they’ll hear is “Please do more work so the boss can make more $$ and you can get none of it.”
Leadership Support Means Action. It’s not enough for the leaders to just tell. They have to do. The client in this case couldn’t just tell people that something was important. Their actions, and those of everyone else in a leadership role, needed to reflect that importance. For all the eloquent speeches we put together, if our actions don’t match our words, the words are meaningless.
I could list a number of other keys to making change. The next time you’re trying to implement change in your organization, at least try and remember these three. You won’t get very far without them.