I’m constantly implementing changes and reforming how things are done in my company. Some of them are totally new activities – which are almost easy. No one has habits of doing them so it is easier to accept and follow new rules.
There are activities which have been done for years – everyone in their own different way. So how to implement changes and succeed, when everyone believes their way is the best. Even if people listen and nod – seem to agree with every word. So You need to be prepared to explain several times and kind of defend “your way”.
Where to start to implement changes?
Before you start to change some activity or procedure there are few questions to go through and the first should be:
What is the problem? If there isn’t any – let it be and focus on something that needs to be done. You have to be sure that there is a problem and it has to be fixed. Be sure you are prepared to commit to implementing changes for months. Also, make sure you are not the only one seeing the problem. Talk with people casually: Have you noticed (general problem description)?
Listen when people give their thoughts about solutions – combining ideas from different people will give a better solution. And when people feel like they are involved – they are more likely to accept and follow.
Do we need it – checklist
Below are a few important questions to ask before starting to change anything. In my experience – the success rate of changes is in relation to the “yes” answers
- will it make work faster -> save time
- will it avoid wasting time on repeating tasks -> save time
- does it help to share information -> save time
- can it avoid products/orders getting lost/double orders -> save and earn money
- can it prevent losing clients -> save and earn money
- does it improve service of any kind -> save and earn money
To succeed and get everyone on board you have to build the changes around everyone’s gain. People are selfish – they don’t care that your workload will be smaller, and faster – they care if their work will be easier, and faster.
Implement changes with everyone’s gain
There is no point in creating rules and activities that take more time and don’t give anything back. Also just taking tasks from one person and giving them to another won’t help unless you are hiring a new person for that. Changes should help save time and/or make more money. And more money also for the worker not only for the owner.
Make people accept and follow new rules You have to make them see how they gain from them. Don’t assume people will understand themselves. They might. But most of the time they won’t. Point it out.
John complains: he doesn’t have enough time to make calls to clients.
Tell him: “You, John, will have more time to call clients if we do <that>”
Implement change – take your time
Don’t ever-ever think that one meeting, one e-mail, one memo will do the trick. You have to repeat and repeat and repeat as long as it takes. Depending on what you are changing it may take weeks or even months. While change is in progress You have to stay tuned and analyze constantly – does everyone do their part and does it help?
At any point, you see fault in the plan and the outcome is different than expected – stop and rethink and make it better. It is ok to step up and say: Hey, I didn’t see this coming up and we need to change the original plan to achieve the goal.