With summer soon coming to an end, it is time for businesses to start thinking about 2020, and the company changes that will be needed to better compete in your target markets.
Organizational change is never easy, and most company presidents who desire change are often hindered by the voices in their head that say Can’t. Why, you ask? Change must start with them.
No one deals well with change because there is some level of comfort with things staying the same. “The same” is predictable. “The same” is repetitive. “The same” is safe. “The same” is less stressful.
The problem with this reality is that “the same” will get you more of “the same”, and any chance for improvement is stilled. Presidents often say they have tried to change, but these efforts have been largely unsuccessful. They just Can’t seem to take the leap of faith. Perhaps the question that needs to be asked first is … Do you really want to change? There is a big difference between can’t and want. As long as Can’t is in your vocabulary, you have constructed a virtual barrier around your company regarding any cultural change.
There are many examples of business owners that have made dramatic changes in their company’s culture that has resulted in successfully driving the top line, bottom line, employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. The fact that YOU Can’t change is a mindset. This mindset emanates itself in everything that you do. Your employees see you as being mad, frustrated, making quick reactive decisions, embracing the attitude that “I know better than any of my employees”, and so on. This type of culture embraces the command and control, my way or the highway, leadership style.
Change is difficult for everyone in the organization because it challenges the predictability of all actions which, by default, will be initially met with resistance. This is why change must start from the bottom up under the supportive guidance of leadership.
I was working on vision and mission statements with a company’s management team. We discussed the fact that you look at a company’s vision from the top down, but you look at a company’s mission from the bottom up. A mission is action oriented and focused on getting things done that, in the longer run, will help the company realize its vision. This company, as with most companies, have a lot of “processes” that outline what the employees are expected to do, but these processes are not aligned, or connected, to any mission regarding where the ship is going. Better said, there is no teamwork that is focused on a single notion, the mission of the company.
These processes are habits, routines, and “instructions on what to do” based on past practices. The “we have always done it this way”, permeates the entire organization. Once the mission is developed you can then ask the question … How do these habits, routines and instructions help to successfully attain the company’s mission?
While the destination is your vision, the drive to get there is your mission. With employees intimately involved with the development of both the mission and vision, they will have ownership. With the encouragement of leadership they will then talk to each other about their individual roles, and how they can better connect to align their activities in supporting the mission.
The cornerstone in the change process is that the company president must let go and allow the employees to make changes, and mistakes, under supervision. Embracing failure is an important part of the change process. This is where the “can’t” comes into play, big time. Without the support of employees, measurable change is not possible. Sustainable change cannot be mandated because there will be no emotional buy-in by the rank and file.
Letting go to the employees is the point where “can’t” raises its ugly head for the company president. One does not have to let go all at once. Try a “beta test” on one segment of the business and see what your employees come up with as a solution. When you think about it, employees know more about what they do every day than the company president. If you think you can’t, you can’t. If you think you can, the possibilities for improvement become real in a measurable way.
The video below, entitled The Athlete is both a heartwarming story and a great example of overcoming “can’t”.