Every year, people set New Year’s resolutions to better themselves; businesses are no different.
When bosses, managers, and executives returned to their offices, worksites, and in some instances their kitchen tables, they likely did so refreshed, with renewed optimism, and with innovative ideas that they wanted to implement throughout 2021.
It is February now, and everyone is back at work, so how are those changes going? Have you managed to implement them? Did they stick? If so, congratulations, you are in the minority, and you can end reading here. Alternatively, are you like many managers, business owners, and others who find it challenging to implement changes?
2020 was a momentous year for Resilient Services. Like almost every business, we had to adapt to the pandemic and diversify our service offering to stay relevant. Those changes stuck, and we thought we would share some of the lessons we learnt to help you get your business’s New Year’s resolution back on track.
1. Give your staff your vision
One of the biggest lessons we took from last year is that managers, executives, and bosses are most effective when their team is in lockstep. For staff to be energised, they need to understand and help construct the vision and own it. As a leader, you must be consistent, not just have a wonderful planning day and create another document to overload your personal drive. If you want to lead change in your business, you will need your people’s support and be consistent. Hence, let them know what you want to achieve, why you want to do so, and their role in that transformation.
By your team owning the vision, they become invested in it and help you achieve it.
2. View change as just an extensive collection of small tasks
Many find articulating where their business wants to be in 12 months relatively easy. What is much more difficult is implementing the steps to achieve that goal.
At Resilient, we always view change as a series of small steps. Once we know where we want to go, we slice our vision up into bite-size actions. Often these actions are arduous and unfamiliar. For these reasons, most people fail to implement their innovation; it is not due to poor strategy, but because of inconsistency (see action 5).
Just like those who work in them, businesses have muscle memory. Those who have worked at a company longer tend to find change the most difficult. Recognise that every small step is closer to your goal. At the same time, acknowledge that things might be difficult initially, but you will adapt. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
3. Test the waters and change course when appropriate
Be real. Not everything is going to work the first time. If it were easy, everyone would do it. If the change you have implemented or attempting to isn’t bearing fruit, change course! In some cases, the original idea proved to be a stinker, yet it becomes a star with adjustment.
In many cases, you will need to change course. Stick with the vision and know not everything will align perfectly; support your staff, and modify how you will get there. To best assess how your project is going, follow the tried and tested model of test, implement, measure, review. With that support, you will know how your project is going and change course accordingly. This also has an indirect benefit of generating investment into the idea.
4. Celebrate your success!
As we have already acknowledged above, implementing a vision is challenging. It requires a team of people, all pulling in the same direction towards a common goal. It would help if you celebrated your milestones along the way. Celebrate the small wins and get cadence towards the big ones!
Along the journey, make sure you take the time to look back and celebrate the change you have implemented.
5. Be consistent
“The signature of mediocrity is not an unwillingness to change. The signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.”
Think about it, whether it be parenting, relationships, sport, dieting, fitness, or business. Any goal setting or change management program needs consistency.
We have seen it too often in workplaces, a great big ball of energy that flies across the room, much like an untied balloon does. Those who do it know they do; those managed by these types wait for energy to disperse, knowing things will go back to normal quickly once the next flavour of the month comes along. It is one thing to win your staffs’ attention with the vision; the idea must stick. Be honest with yourself. We all have shortcomings; know yours.
If you’re one of these types, get somebody in who’s methodical (innovative types have the worst with the attention span as they move onto the next shiny thing). Operational managers have the day to day pressures and if you want to change, free up these people’s capacity. Allow yourself and others the scope to be consistent.