In working with organizations over the years, we’ve observed a leadership pattern that sabotages change. It occurs when senior leaders, who have been thinking, exploring, and debating about a particular change for a while, finally announce plans for a new initiative. Forgetting that others in the organization haven’t been a part of the discussions and are not as familiar with all of the reasons for the change, leaders are surprised by the amount of resistance the new change generates. By taking the time to address these concerns, leaders can improve the odds of success for their next change initiative. Are you considering a serious change effort in your organization? Address these concerns–in order–so you can get everyone on board and moving in the right direction.
Why is company culture being featured on a digital marketing and ecommerce blog? The answer is simply because the biggest challenges to the majority of companies (aside from continuing economic stress) are – Moving to the cloud and advertising/marketing/selling in a multichannel ‘userverse. One and two are enmeshed, of course. They both pose questions for any company’s technology and culture. Any part of company change inevitably involves consultants who are useful precisely because they are not burdened with the history of the company and they do not worship false prophets. Cultural change is easy in theory and difficult in practice.
So on we go. How can you improve your company culture with simple decisions? When it comes to the idea of proposing change within a business or an organization, a lot of processes and a lot of awareness would be needed to bring about measurable change. Such kind of change may take months, in some cases years to come about, depending on the size of your organization. However, you can practise these 4 simple things to bring about a change in your business:
Begin And Improve
Someone in a leadership position in your organization needs to make the initial decision that cultural change is a priority, that putting customers (and the employees, and vendors, and systems that serve them) front and center matters. Codify your cultural decision in a very short statement. A brief statement of what that decision looks like: How you’re going to treat customers. How you’re going to support employees. How you’re going to treat vendors. Because making a decision once isn’t enough: you need a clear way to refer back to it. Change your hiring practices to reflect your newly stated values. Every single employee, from that moment forward, needs to be hired for reasons that are congruent with your newly stated values. This is very, very important.
Improve your onboarding. The way you bring employees into a company is all-important. You need to go overboard with the onboard. Overboard in stressing, ideally, have the CEO there, the purpose of employment at your organization, as opposed to the normal stuff stressed at orientation: how to handle the minutes of your job description, signing in and out, and so forth.Adjust your personnel policies. No more docking people for coming in late from the lunch break to assist a customer they found in distress. No more ranking based on average handle time on phone calls. And so forth. The CEO can make the highest of high-minded values statements, but here is where the rubber hits the road, where your culture can be supported or sabotaged. Write down your standards. Everything that reasonably can be expected to happen to customers needs its own standard. Not immediately, but develop these as quickly as you can, thoughtfully, do so.
Plan Your Action
If leaders address the first two concerns effectively, people will be ready to hear information on the details involved in implementing the change. At this stage they will be interested to hear how the thinking behind the change has been tested. They will also want to know where to go for technical assistance and solutions to problems that might arise. Leaders should be prepared to answer questions such as: What do I do first? How do I manage all the details? What happens if it doesn’t work as planned? Is what we are experiencing typical? How will the organizational structure and systems change? Onboarding is important, proper hiring is important, but ongoing reinforcement is crucial. A few minutes every day discussing just one of your list of cultural values or service standards, with the meeting led by a different employee every time.
The result, added up over a year or years, is a lot of reinforcement. And it makes every single one of those days of that year or years better on its own. When there are immediate needs for innovation and a new strategy for a business, it has to come from the top-down. Senior leadership need to and have to pave the way with their innovative leadership. As an entrepreneur, how can you make a quick change with a limited amount of resources? If the business has to change and improve, guess who else needs to change and improve? The founder, the CEO or whoever it is that is holding the reins at the top! For this to happen there are two simple and practical ways to go about it. These two ideas can be immediately implemented and the change that you hope for in your company can be as immediate as the speed of your implementation.
Find People Who Have Made It
With some evidence that the change is moving the organization in the right direction, momentum starts to build. Leaders can look forward to questions and ideas focused on coordination and cooperation with others. A solid nucleus of people in the company will want to get everyone on board because they are convinced the change is making a difference. At this stage, leaders can look forward to questions such as: Who else should be involved? How can we work with others to get them involved in what we are doing? How do we spread the word? For you to change, your circle of friends has to change unless they are in some way able to help you reach your business goals. Does your friend circle have a positive impact on you? Do they inspire you?
There are tons of networking events that you can attend to. Find people who share similar goals, initiate friendships, build your relationship with these people, bring value to them too and grow together. A single piece of wisdom from a friend could be the only thing you may need to double or triple your revenue. Change your friends and change your life. In business, we have a terrible tradition going back that jobs are things done by employees, but designed by their so-called superiors. As our society has grown more specialized, this bias has increased in its intensity. While, of course, to some extent this has to be true, especially in life-threatening situations. It’s important to simultaneously push against it, to let your employees know what they need to get done but not necessarily how they should go about designing their day and carrying out their duties.
Read and Read
Take time with your next change initiative. Do it right and you can drastically increase your chances of success. But rush through the early stages and, like so many others, you might find yourself derailed as many of these concerns surface later in the project, killing momentum when it is needed most. You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth repeating here: People who help to plan the battle rarely battle the plan. While dealing with people’s concerns about change may seem like a lot of hand-holding, it’s important for leaders to remember that they too had to process information and personal concerns before they were ready to discuss impact and implementation. We are privileged to have everything we need easily available to us because of the giant strides we have made in technology.
Ten years ago, you would need a library and card and an expensive shipping cost to read a book of your choice. Books will expand your mind and challenge your innovation. You can actually get inside the world of a world-class thought leader, billionaire or visionary leader and understand what methods they used to transform their business. How amazing is that! Reading books is one of the best investments you can make in your professional career. Again, the key to overcoming a challenge in your business may lie within a book that costs less than INR 500. Pearls of wisdom worth far more than money can be found in the collectible knowledge of books. Find a way to buy and read a book.