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Change is like tax – inevitable. So why is it so difficult? Three reasons really.

1. Just because the boss says so, puts people’s backs up. If staff think the only benefit is to Management (who already get paid a lot more than they do) they’re unlikely to get behind the change.

2. Our staff are busy and have lives outside of the office however, you want them to drop everything and go on training that as far as they can see, that will only benefit Management’s salaries?

3. You didn’t ask the people whom the change would affect before you decided to go ahead. Translation: you don’t care about your staff. So why should they care about your plan?

Why can’t they just do what they’re told?

Obviously, the projected change is going to disrupt things for a while. And there’s nothing like change to bring out the prima donnas in your employees, right? You pay them to do a job, you’re not interested in their opinions or their ‘happiness’. It’s the bottom line that counts! If they don’t do what they’re employed to do, the company can’t function, the company will close and then they’ll be out of a job! Right?

Let me tell you a story

A certain theme park had its own laundry service. This department serviced only the fast food chains in the park. The customers began to complain about linen coming back still dirty. Clearly new machinery was needed. But more importantly, the staff didn’t care.

What would you have done?

This particular manager knew, from bitter experience, that upbraiding them about their attitude wouldn’t work. He could have said, “If you don’t like it, leave.” But he didn’t.

What did he do?

He sent the heads of the department to work in the fast food outlets part time. They came back with a better understanding of how dirty linen spoiled the guests’ experience of the whole park. They realised how important their job was. The new machinery was discussed with them. The suggestions poured in, along with ideas of where the machinery would best be placed.

New machines, so what?

Once the new machinery was installed, the manager held a staff meeting. To recoup costs, there would need to be an increase in output. Extra work! If there were a time for prima donnas to come out the closet, now would be it. Surprisingly, the staff suggested targets that were double what they’d been barely achieving before. But because of their enthusiasm, he agreed. To his astonishment, the staff not only met but improved on those targets. Soon, the laundry was taking in linen from the upmarket restaurants as well as the hotels in the park.

Why did this work?

Simple. The staff felt a sense of ownership because they had been involved from beginning to end. They felt seen, heard and appreciated. And that is really the only rule in Change Management you need to know.

The other very important lesson: Get over yourself

If you operate with a, “My way or the highway” managerial style, look in the mirror. The prima donna in your company is you. The days of Genghis Khan are over. And you don’t need intricate administration systems to be a great leader either. The one thing about change that most people assume is that it’s always from the top down. If you want real change in the company you need to realise that the most effect change a company can implement is when it comes from the bottom up. If your staff highlights an area where change needs to occur, pay attention.

6 Common Sense Rules

Applying simple common sense to management will show your staff their ideas are considered valuable and their needs are being met. When that happens, stand back, because your company is about to hit the big time.

Absolutely Everyone is Important

There are no exceptions. The guy that spends his nights vacuuming the office so it’s clean and tidy when you come into work the next day? Very Important Person! Think about the visual as well as the health impact his job has, not only on members of staff, but on your clients as well.

Some C-Level management has become so enamoured of the expensive equipment they forget to introduce visitors to the equipment operator. That is both rude and short sighted. The visitor, usually a potential client, will walk away thinking, “He doesn’t care about his staff. Why should I believe he’ll care about me?” And the staff member isn’t going to be his biggest fan either.

Be Open to Doing it Differently

Telling your staff, “That’s the way it’s always done,” is enough to drive the out-of-the-box thinkers to your competition. Is ‘the-way-it’s-always-done’ the best way it can be done? Evaluate structure and processes regularly and ask your employees for their input. After all, who better to know if it’s working or not.

Redefine Training

Don’t be a boss, be a COACH; care, observe, act, communicate, help. Find out what the staff member’s personal goals are. Is there a way you can provide training? Does your general office training include what to do in an emergency? Are your staff able to leap into action immediately when that emergency occurs? Provide impeccable training in this area. If your staff know you care about their safety, they’ll care about your company.

Remember ‘We ARE!’ Appreciated, Recognised and Encouraged

Don’t wait until a member of staff has done something extraordinary to say, “Well done”. Letting them know they’re appreciated, recognised and encouraged all the time is so easy. It doesn’t cost you anything, but the rewards are great; happy people, happy bottom line. Later, when you require a systems change they are more likely to be open to it.

If You’re Not Learning, You’re Dying.

People who are open to change, and handle it well, are usually people who go out of their way to keep learning, trying new things. Encourage your staff to keep challenging themselves in ways that best suit their personalities. If nothing else, it’ll make them more interesting people.

Finally, Be A Professional

It means more than having the necessary degrees and wearing a suit. It means being in control  – of yourself! Of what you say, how you say it, what you do and how you do your job. Your staff are watching. Lead by example. Be quietly, ethically and morally inspirational. Build those traits into your company. When you ask for change, your staff will trust it’s going to benefit everybody, not just you.

Change Management conjures up a picture of management fighting their staff every inch of the way. If that’s happening, your company’s basic foundation is wrong. Don’t wait until you have to enforce change. Make changes now; in your management style, your communication and your company culture. Building a culture of teamwork builds better companies.

David Fastuca / Co-Founder @ Locomote / dfastuca@locomote.com

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