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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Implementing Change Successfully

Kotter's Change Model
Learn how to implement change successfully.

Change is the only constant.
– Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

What was true more than 2,000 years ago is just as true today. We live in a world where "business as usual" is change. New initiatives, project-based working, technology improvements, staying ahead of the competition – these things come together to drive ongoing changes to the way we work.

Whether you're considering a small change to one or two processes, or a system wide change to an organization, it's common to feel uneasy and intimidated by the scale of the challenge.

You know that the change needs to happen, but you don't really know how to go about delivering it. Where do you start? Whom do you involve? How do you see it through to the end?

There are many theories about how to "do" change. Many originate with leadership and change management guru, John Kotter. A professor at Harvard Business School and world-renowned change expert, Kotter introduced his eight-step change process in his 1995 book, "Leading Change." We look at his eight steps for leading change below.

Step 1: Create Urgency
For change to happen, it helps if the whole company really wants it. Develop a sense of urgency around the need for change. This may help you spark the initial motivation to get things moving.

This isn't simply a matter of showing people poor sales statistics or talking about increased competition. Open an honest and convincing dialogue about what's happening in the marketplace and with your competition. If many people start talking about the change you propose, the urgency can build and feed on itself.

What you can do:
+   Identify potential threats and develop scenarios showing what could happen in the future
+  Examine opportunities   that should be, or could be, exploited.
+  Start honest discussions, and give dynamic and convincing reasons to get people talking and thinking. 
 +  Request support from customers, outside stakeholders and industry people to strengthen your argument.

Kotter suggests that for change to be successful, 75 percent of a company's management needs to "buy into" the change. In other words, you have to work really hard on Step 1, and spend significant time and energy building urgency, before moving onto the next steps. Don't panic and jump in too fast because you don't want to risk further short-term losses – if you act without proper preparation, you could be in for a very bumpy ride.

Step 2: Form a Powerful Coalition
Convince people that change is necessary. This often takes strong leadership and visible support from key people within your organization. Managing change isn't enough – you have to lead it.

You can find effective change leaders throughout your organization – they don't necessarily follow the traditional company hierarchy. To lead change, you need to bring together a coalition, or team, of influential people whose power comes from a variety of sources, including job title, status, expertise, and political importance.
Once formed, your "change coalition" needs to work as a team, continuing to build urgency and momentum around the need for change.

What you can do:
·       +   Identify the true leaders in your organization, as well as your key stakeholders  .
·       +   Ask for an emotional commitment from these key people.
·       +  Work on team building within your change coalition.
·       +  Check your team for weak areas, and ensure that you have a good mix of people from different departments and different levels within your company.

Step 3: Create a Vision for Change
When you first start thinking about change, there will probably be many great ideas and solutions floating around. Link these concepts to an overall vision that people can grasp easily and remember.

A clear vision can help everyone understand why you're asking them to do something. When people see for themselves what you're trying to achieve, then the directives they're given tend to make more sense.

What you can do:
·      +  Determine the values that are central to the change.
·      +  Develop a short summary (one or two sentences) that captures what you "see" as the future of your organization.
·      +  Create a strategy to execute that vision.
·      +   Ensure that your change coalition can describe the vision in five minutes or less.

Step 4: Communicate the Vision
What you do with your vision after you create it will determine your success. Your message will probably have strong competition from other day-to-day communications within the company, so you need to communicate it frequently and powerfully, and embed it within everything that you do.

Don't just call special meetings to communicate your vision. Instead, talk about it every chance you get. Use the vision daily to make decisions and solve problems. When you keep it fresh on everyone's minds, they'll remember it and respond to it.

It's also important to "walk the talk." What you do is far more important – and believable – than what you say. Demonstrate the kind of behavior that you want from others.

What you can do:
·        +  Talk often about your change vision.
·        +  Address peoples' concerns and anxieties, openly and honestly.
·        +  Apply your vision to all aspects of operations – from training to performance reviews.
+       +  Tie everything back to the vision.
·        +   Lead by example  .

Step 5: Remove Obstacles
If you follow these steps and reach this point in the change process, you've been talking about your vision and building buy-in from all levels of the organization. Hopefully, your staff wants to get busy and achieve the benefits that you've been promoting.

But is anyone resisting the change? And are there processes or structures that are getting in its way?

Put in place the structure for change, and continually check for barriers to it. Removing obstacles can empower the people you need to execute your vision, and it can help the change move forward.

What you can do:
·       +   Identify, or hire, change leaders whose main roles are to deliver the change.
·       +   Look at your organizational structure, job descriptions, and performance and compensation systems to ensure they're in line with your vision.
·       +  Recognize and reward people for making change happen.
·       +    Identify people who are resisting the change, and help them see what's needed.
·       +  Take action to quickly remove barriers (human or otherwise).

Step 6: Create Short-Term Wins
Nothing motivates more than success. Give your company a taste of victory early in the change process. Within a short time frame (this could be a month or a year, depending on the type of change), you'll want to have some "quick wins  " that your staff can see. Without this, critics and negative thinkers might hurt your progress.

Create short-term targets – not just one long-term goal. You want each smaller target to be achievable, with little room for failure. Your change team may have to work very hard to come up with these targets, but each "win" that you produce can further motivate the entire staff.

What you can do:
·      +  Look for sure-fire projects that you can implement without help from any strong critics of the change.
·      +    Don't choose early targets that are expensive. You want to be able to justify the investment in each project.
·      +  Thoroughly analyze the potential pros and cons of your targets. If you don't succeed with an early goal, it can hurt your entire change initiative.
·      +   Reward the people who help you meet the targets.

Step 7: Build on the Change
Kotter argues that many change projects fail because victory is declared too early. Real change runs deep. Quick wins are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change.

Launching one new product using a new system is great. But if you can launch 10 products, that means the new system is working. To reach that 10th success, you need to keep looking for improvements.

Each success provides an opportunity to build on what went right and identify what you can improve.

What you can do:
·      +  After every win, analyze what went right, and what needs improving.
·      + Set goals to continue building on the momentum you've achieved.
·      +   Learn about kaizen,the idea of continuous improvement.
·      +  Keep ideas fresh by bringing in new change agents and leaders for your change coalition.

Step 8: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture
Finally, to make any change stick, it should become part of the core of your organization. Your corporate culture often determines what gets done, so the values behind your vision must show in day-to-day work.

Make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of your organization. This will help give that change a solid place in your organization's culture.
It's also important that your company's leaders continue to support the change. This includes existing staff and new leaders who are brought in. If you lose the support of these people, you might end up back where you started.

What you can do:
·        + Talk about progress every chance you get. Tell success stories about the change process, and repeat other stories that you hear.
·       +  Include the change ideals and values when hiring and training new staff.
·       +   Publicly recognize key members of your original change coalition, and make sure the rest of the staff – new and old – remembers their contributions.
·       +   Create plans to replace key leaders of change as they move on. This will help ensure that their legacy is not lost or forgotten.

Key Points

You have to work hard to change an organization successfully. When you plan carefully and build the proper foundation, implementing change can be much easier, and you'll improve the chances of success. If you're too impatient, and if you expect too many results too soon, your plans for change are more likely to fail.

Create a sense of urgency, recruit powerful change leaders, build a vision and effectively communicate it, remove obstacles, create quick wins, and build on your momentum. If you do these things, you can help make the change part of your organizational culture. That's when you can declare a true victory. then sit back and enjoy the change that you envisioned so long ago.

Peter Mclees, LMFT

P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

10 surefire ways to get the best from your team

Want to be an excellent leader? A truly inspirational, effective agent of your team’s success? There is literally nothing harder – or more important – in the world of work. That’s why effective leaders are so rare in real life.

If that discourages you, them maybe you don’t have what it takes to lead after all. If it motivates you instead? Well, then, here are a few tips to take it from “in charge guy/gal” to “excellent leader !”

1. Repeat after me (to your team): “My job is to help you be successful by making your job easier.”

No, your job is not to give them the day off to shop while you finish up their work for them. But your job as leader – your only job, as leader – is to remove impediments and provide the tools for your people’s success. Take the obstacles out of their way and give them the resources so they can do the important work of your company: serving your customers!

2. Foster friendships among your staff.

After work socialization is important – it is! But nothing builds camaraderie and team spirit like shared success as the result of shared struggle. What’s your team’s greater goal? What significant challenges are you confronting that all of you can be proud of overcoming together?

3. Reward for the big things. And the medium things. And even the itty-bitty little things.

We like praise. We want recognition. One winner-takes-all vacation or mega-bonus for the year’s top performer is great and all, but how about a $5 Starbucks, or even a made-up certificate from your printer, because someone filed her report on time?

4. Push them.

People of quality want to be good at their jobs. Kindly help them to improve. …Kindly, but maybe not gently.

5. Release the “Just Enoughers” to other “opportunities.”
We all know the “Just Enoughers.” Employees that do just enough to avoid getting fired. No one likes to work with slackers – except other slackers. Redeploy them sooner than later. As the old saying goes, “If it’s inevitable, make it immediate.”

6. Hire slowly and caaaaarefully!

Show your current team members and your new recruits that not just anybody belongs on your team. If you want to build an elite group, hire top performers. You’ll have to kiss a lot of frogs as you vet the talent pond.

7. Give them something important to get up for in the morning.

Remember number 2, with the part about shared challenges? Pick a lofty goal. Then make pursuit of that the rallying cry of your team. Change lives, change how business is done; don’t just settle to change who wins this year’s sales contest.

8. Talk up your people to others.

Talk your team up to your peers, to their peers, to your boss and her boss and heck, to the security guard, too. Be proud of each of them, and share that pride with anyone who’ll listen. Word will filter back to them, and as it does, it will have have a major impact.

9. Expect the world of them.

Establish with your team how highly you respect and admire them. Expect big things from them. They will live up to your image of them, no matter what it takes.

10. Be worthy of their effort.

Want to really be the best, most effective leader ever? Work to improve yourself every day, in every way that is important to your team’s success. In order to lead a group of champions to new heights, you as leader must be worthyof the team’s time and energy. And that’s a lot more than we have room for in one blog post.

You will never be as good as you can be as a leader. But every hour of every day, if you’re sufficiently devoted to the success of your team, you can improve. Keep at it, and your people will start bragging about you – to their peers, your peers, your boss and her boss. And yes, even to the security guards.

When it percolates back to you how admired you are by those you serve as leader… you’ll be infinitely prouder than if they told you themselves!

Peter Mclees, LMFT

P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.

Helping Employees Embrace New Systems

Embracing new systems and processes can be challenging for many. Even for those who aren't apprehensive about technology, automating a manual process that employees have been accustomed to for years can be overwhelming.

With profitability and efficiency among businesses' top priorities, and technology a valuable tool for increasing both, how can business leaders help employees to adopt, and even openly embrace, new technology?

When considering a new technology — be it software, hardware or even a simple upgrade — talk to your team members about their current challenges and frustrations to gauge what features are 'must-haves.'
By taking a solution-oriented approach and integrating technology that meets employee needs, it will be easier to integrate the technology into day-to-day operations.

Show Them The Benefits
The best thing to do is to introduce the problem to employees and present the new system or process to them as a possible solution. After allowing them to learn more about it, they should be encouraged to give you feedback. Once you've identified the right system or process for the problem, you can make it available for use.

Just like you would train a new employee on office procedures, it is important to train team members on how to best use new technologies. When developing a training program for your team members, consider company culture.

Is your company or department bursting with early adopters? Do team members lag behind in their adoption of technology? Knowing who you are working with is as important as understanding the technology itself. Understanding the culture will help.

It is also important to develop a program that trains all team members, not just system administrators. Training all team members on the system will prevent administrators from being bombarded with questions and reduce the number of team members who resist the technology due to lack of understanding.

To help increase team members adoption of the technology and minimize any apprehension, coordinate team training sessions in small groups where the team can work hands-on with the new technology and receive on-the-spot support and guidance. A small group setting will help people to feel more comfortable asking questions.

Measure results
Evaluating the effectiveness of a new technology is crucial. It both helps to determine if goals are being met and demonstrates the technology's value to the team.

Before implementing a new technology, set benchmarks. Potential benchmarks include how many team members you want using the technology after a set period of time, projected increases in productivity and desired reductions in system interruptions.

These measurements will help management to evaluate return on investment and illustrate the value of the technology to employees who are resistant to or struggling with the transition. Showing employees that customers are receiving better service, that they are more efficient in their role, and/or that the business is operating more smoothly, will motivate them to become familiar with and consistently use the new technology.

Once you have measured how many employees have become proficient with the technology, interface with those who are resisting the change or encountering possible difficulty.

Is there a key system functionality that team members have overlooked? Are team members using the system incorrectly, and are therefore frustrated? Identifying the reasons employees are not using a new technology can help to identify areas where additional training is needed and help to refine your purchasing strategy for future technology

Be patient
Wouldn't it be great if team members were on board and running at full-speed from the get go? Unfortunately, this is not always realistic.

Be patient when implementing a new technology and team members are trying to learn the new processes. While training will help, it still takes time for things to run smoothly. Anticipate that team members will have questions and challenges as they work with the new technology. Take the time to educate team members on the value of the new technology and highlight how it will make their job faster/better/easier.

It is important to evaluate the effectiveness of all technology, consider team members feedback, and assess overall impact on day-to-day operations. When implementing a new technology, work closely with team members to ensure that the technology is being used properly and that they are comfortable with the new processes.

Taking the time to help employees transition to using new technology effectively is key for allowing businesses to realize optimal increases in efficiency and cost savings while helping them to refine their purchasing and implementation strategy with future technology.

Unlearning and Relearning
Futurist and author Alvin Toffler once stated that the illiterate of the 21st century won’t be those who can’t read and write, but those who can’t learn, unlearn, and relearn. That remains a prophetic statement for the period of accelerating change facing many companies today. Unlearning is about allowing ourselves to go through the full cycle of change—from contentment to renewal. Personal power resides with our ability to recognize what is in front of us and to be willing to push through our own denial and confusion to reach that light at the end.

All the success,

Peter Mclees, LMFT

P. S. Smart Development Inc. has an exceptional track record helping restaurants, stores, branches, distribution centers, food production facilities, and other businesses create a strong culture, leadership bench strength and the teamwork necessary for growth. Having worked with several companies throughout their growth cycle, we have valuable insights and strategies that would help any late stage startup, small or medium sized company achieve sustained growth and prosperity.