We all know change can be a challenge! If making a change was easy, we’d all be happy and healthy with successful businesses.
If there’s a need to implement a change in your business, there are a few things to know:
Change starts at the top
Business owners and management need to be committed to the change. They need to clearly express why this change is essential, how the business or customers will benefit, and create a detailed plan of action for implementation.
Now, if your team members are rolling their eyes because they’ve heard this before, you need to make a bold statement. You need to demonstrate why this time it’s going to be different and commit your team to a successful implementation process.
Make a splash
Introduce the change in a big way. Prepare a “wow” demo. Show up in a clown costume if necessary – but get the point made that this time is indeed different.
Alright, so you’ve introduced the change, your team is fully aware of the need for change… now what?
If the change involves learning a new skill, process or system, make learning incremental. Break down learning into small, bite-sized, easily digestible chunks.
Commit to training with the focus again on why this is important and how it benefits the company.
Oftentimes business owners and employees will find excuses which reinforce their unwillingness to change.
“It’s too hard.”
“It’s not worth the effort.”
“It won’t work.”
Listen to your team and address their concerns. They might be correct, or they might need to again understand the importance of the change.
Reassurance through positive self-talk
Learning a new skill is tough. Encourage your team members to transform unsupportive self-talk such as:
“It requires too much work. I am too busy with what I am doing now. Our method works just fine.”
To recognize personal barriers and create a supportive self-talk dialogue:
“Am I afraid of making a mistake? Am I doing what I do not know how to do? Am I open to let go of control? I am a beginner, but I will master the new behavior.”
Once team members fully understand how the change will improve the company, they will become motivated to practice the new behavior.
Understand the J Curve
Using a horizontal line to demonstrate how well the effort is working, it often takes the form of the letter J. There is an initial decline period followed by an improvement period that concludes much higher on the page than the original starting point.
In essence, things won’t be perfect from the start.
This is the part of the process where change is usually abandoned because it’s not working. Recognize the transition is residing at the bottom of the J-Curve. It’s key to prepare for this initial decline and work through it. Have your team re-focus on why this change is important and again how the business or customers will benefit.
The four stages of learning a new skill
Share and acknowledge with your team the four stages of learning a new skill:
- Unconscious Incompetence – In this first stage the team member may not be aware of the needed skill or how it could be beneficial. Awareness of the lack of skill and the desire to fill the knowledge gap is necessary to move to the second stage of learning.
- Conscious Incompetence – In this stage the skills gap is known and the effort to learn the skill is understood as beneficial. Experiencing failure is a part of this learning stage.
- Conscious Competence – At this stage the new skill is being used, but it requires concentration and effort.
- Unconscious Competence – After enough experience and practice the new skill is second nature: performed with ease and confidence.
Persistence is the key – Stay on track, work through resistance
Create new habits – Repetition is essential for change implementation
Fail forward – Learn from challenges and obstacles, and keep moving forward
Seek outside help – If you’re not confident in your ability to lead your team to implement change, don’t allow the fear of failure to hold you back. Reach out to a trusted advisor to help you help your business.