It’s a well known fact that many organizations want to thrive, to succeed, to surpass past performance. Ironically, it’s also an established fact that very few are ready and willing to embrace the discomfort of change. Even though we realize the futility, we all want better results by doing the exact same things we’ve always done.
Well it can’t hurt to dream, right? Except the longer you stay in the safety of familiarity, you may see other companies break out of the routines and rituals and forge ahead, leaving you and your team behind.
Facing the Barriers To Change
Why is it so hard to make impactful changes in your organization? Aside from the discomfort of venturing into unknown territory, there are other factors that impede your every step toward progress. For one, the people around you who don’t agree with a change in strategy will use everything in their power to pull you back, away from doing things differently. They may openly question you, “what are you thinking of? Why are you trying this?” to the point where you begin to doubt and question yourself, “can I really do this – should I? How will I know if it’s going to pay off in the end?”
If you succumb to all the doubts, you may find it more comforting to give up the endeavor to shake things up in your company or department. And people will be fine with that – no more worries about having to learn, adapt and adhere to The New Thing – everyone settles back into The Thing We Know.
But with comfort and sameness comes no movement forward. Consider what life would be like if we all resisted a new concept – we would be riding horses and hand writing letters by the light of our fireplace.
Can You Progress and Succeed Without Change?
Great leaders acknowledge the burden that is change, respect what must be done, prepare as much as they can, and then move forward. Those who don’t want to do the work of embracing a new reality are the ones who give in to fear, do what they can to avoid conflict, and find it difficult to see a purpose behind the change. Like a pool of trapped water, everyone becomes stagnant. Eventually people working without purpose get burned out.
None of this, of course, is a recipe for success. As a leader, you will need to be open to change; not just once, but constantly. Business is a never-ending journey, so a great leader will need to welcome the opportunity to sharpen the skills it takes to navigate and surmount all the obstacles they encounter.
Prepare Yourself and Your Team For New Possibilities
Once you set your mind to this path, you’ll realize that meeting new concepts and challenges can be exciting. Steering your team through the whirlwind of new possibilities can be confusing and frustrating at first, but once you recognize the areas in which your team has skills and talent, your leadership can guide them to accomplish more than they had imagined. And when your team sees that you trust them to handle these difficulties, they find it easier to believe in themselves.
One way not to get ahead of yourself or set unreasonable expectations is to ground yourself with what you and your team already do well. Look around at what is working perfectly well and determine what processes you can keep, and what needs to be slightly modified. No sense in throwing away everything and starting from scratch. Take advantage of your team's collective knowledge and expertise.
Don’t Let Change Become a Runaway Train
Once the training wheels are off and you find that accepting change has garnered great results, be careful that you don’t get swept up by the thrill of innovation and change. Timing is everything, as they say, so schedule new products or processes or the addition of new people when the organization is ready to support it and you’ve established a strong foundation. Sometimes the greatest results can be uncovered by the smallest of modifications, so don’t overlook the little details.
Where is your competition spending all their time and attention? What got left unattended, unnoticed? How can you discover customer needs that are not being met by other companies?
And finally, let’s recognize the biggest advantage you have – listening to your customers, what they need, what they want, what they love about your organization, and what no one else is providing. Customer voice and feedback is essential to understand and quantify your need to change and your achievement of results.
Change is never easy but it is necessary. You can fight it every step of the way or welcome it as a new adventure. If your organization, or you as a leader, are finding it challenging to open the door to change, I welcome you to schedule a call so we can explore the possibilities.