I was asked by Janet MacDonald to appear on her Changehub podcast to talk about change and the whole topic got me thinking.
As Justine Flynn from Thank You said at Nurture Change, “no change, no change”. If you want the same thing you’ve always got, do the same thing you always do — if you want more, make changes.
For the most part, most of my clients are good with change. They approach me because they have a growth mindset and want their business to be better — in asking for help, they know they’ll need to change.
In saying that, every client has a different level of change they’re open to. Small tweaks, yes. Minor changes, sure. I suggest a complete overhaul or change of direction and the foot begins to tap nervously…
And this is human nature: the majority of us lack the bravery to do really the hard things. We avoid them when we can, we stay in our lane and in our zone — and our company remains the same ie C or B grade.
The first thing I try to do to effect real change with my clients is help them be braver and face the things they don’t want to. To address the elephants in the room. To make the hard decisions. To make the unpopular (but correct) decisions. To make a change in your business, you need to have those crucial but uncomfortable conversations.
If I stopped you right now and asked you what you don’t want to do in your business but know you should, what would your answer be? I bet you know the answer — why haven’t you acted on it?
Why is change hard?
As I said, we’re not naturally brave and in most cases we don’t want to upset the apple cart. And even when we know we really do need to change, sometimes the thought of the energy it will take to bring the team along on the change journey can be insurmountable — it’s exhausting pushing rocks up a hill by yourself!
As well as those reasons, another barrier to change is our ego. We want to think that the way we are doing it is already perfect — or at least good enough to not need changing. The enemy to great is good! We should always be open to new ways of doing things to improve our businesses, instead of thinking that we’ve nailed it already and don’t need to refine anything, even if change scares us…
How can you drive change in your business?
First of all, be open to it! Provide an open forum for your team to make suggestions and really consider their feedback. You could even have some awards around the best changes suggested and implemented. Is ‘constant improvement’ listed among your core company values? I suggest it should be — if your team know your organisation is always focused on how to get better then they’re forewarned and will be far more open to change.
Ask outsiders for their (bias-free) input — talk to customers, suppliers, mentors, savvy friends and business coaches. Really mull over what it is they say before you reject it outright — sometimes they might have the right answer/ solution but the area of your business they’re talking about may indeed need a review.
When you implement change in your business, sell the story of ‘why’.
Change scares the average employee (and sometimes the business owner, too). Many people are fearful of change, so ease your way into it: sell the vision of how the world will look after this change has happened so they know why things need to be shaken up. Ideally you want the change seem like it was their idea so they’re on board immediately. As a leader, instead of speaking first and sharing your ideas, get them to brainstorm solutions for an issue. Usually they’ll land on your idea or similar — or they’ll at least be open to your ideas once they’ve had a go. Change is so much easier to execute with a more engaged team.
Make sure you are changing the most important and impactful things, because then your team will see results and understand why there was a need for change. After a while it will positively affect the morale of your people and have a good effect on your culture.
You need to implement changes that will get them closer to your dream end goal, otherwise there’s no point. Don’t make changes for changes sake — this just unsettles people.
Make sure you revisit how the change went — did it achieve what you wanted it to? What learnings did you get from the experience and what did you learn from what actually happened vs what you expected to happen? The more you can learn about the results of changes you make, the better position you’ll be in to implement future changes.
Don’t have your confidence knocked if the change didn’t do what you thought it would. Persevere in your drive towards improvement and don’t let a few knockbacks stop you from what they believe and know to be true…
I hope this has got you thinking about how you can make changes in your business to improve your chances of success!