THINK BIG AND START SMALL
Big change is hard to achieve. Whether it is personal change such as losing weight, waking up early or professional change such as changing careers or getting an MBA, it is not easy to make a change. For example, writing this article involved taking some micro steps, but I am sure it was not easy for me to get myself together to put action to achieve my intention. You may want to switch your job from full time to part time to have more positive experience with your family, you may plan to boost your customer base and relationships or maybe you want to commence succession planning. All of these actions are big changes, and I can say with certainty that your immediate environment, whether commitments, time, associates, society, family or even your company, puts up resistance to achieving your desired change.
Why are we resistant to change?
We often get comfortable with what we are doing and how we are doing it. Consequently, we appear to be complacent and reluctant to switch, but it is more complicated than that.
Let us look at this scenario. Imagine you have an option to spend your Valentine’s Day at your favourite vacation destination where you have been going since you got married or spend the day at a new resort, the Koonita, which is a few miles away. The rational part of you thinks the new resort sounds great, but the emotional side is hooked to the original place. The rational part can influence the emotional part a little, but most of the time the emotional part does what it wants. The rational part is also responsible for providing the direction for the emotional part. This means that no matter how hard you try to get the emotional part to go to the new destination, it is being pulled to the old one.
This is the nature of change and our resistance to change. Our emotional attachments prevent us from accepting the rational argument for something new. So whether it is changing your business model to become more efficient or handing over responsibilities to an associate to pursue other interests, it all comes down to emotional attachment. Your customers may be attached to the old routine, your team may be unwilling to learn new things or you may have become a fan of your employees.
The Tools and Principles for Managing Change
Shaping the route to follow, focusing on the solution and taking small easy steps are the tools to help manage change. The leader determines the route to go. The route will have to be well designed with step by step processes to help you sway the emotion to the direction you want. The emotion may not know that you are influencing the destination, but it will follow the steps you set. As a leader in your business or organization, you can change the destination by changing the route. The principle here is that it is easier to follow a well articulated route than it is to change the destination to influence the change you desire.
Focusing on the bright spots or the solution is a great management tool. The usual tendency is to focus on failures that need to be fixed. For instance, we have handled difficult employees or customers. We spend time trying to make them happy, instead of taking that time to develop the best employees and customers to be even better. This strategy of developing the best hands is likely to have a better outcome.
Focusing on those small efforts when implementing a big change with your customers or employees have been successful. If you are trying to switch your employees to more efficient technology, such as a new app, you will select the one employee that has made the switch. Empower and support them to do more and to share with other employees. The result will surprise you.
Taking well articulated easy steps with organizational change is much easier than forcing a plan on employees or customers. Even babies do not start by running; they learn to walk by taking small steps in the direction they want to go.
If you are trying to change your store location from a small corner shop to a big space in the mall, you wouldn’t announce to your employees and customers that starting tomorrow the store location has changed. Such announcement would confuse your employees and drive your customers away. The better approach would be to talk to some customers in advance about the benefits the new location will offer them. For instance, the new location will have more space to stock merchandise in bulk at discounted prices which means that customers can now buy at cheaper prices. Once you get a buy-in from some customers, you select an employee to manage it. At the end of six months, you can evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Thereafter, you focus on the ideas that worked and roll out to more customers or employees.
Change is uncomfortable, but in the end we grow and learn from it. Don’t let frustration get in your way by providing a clear direction, how to act and what destination to pursue. If you follow the road map, you will arrive at your destination.