Change Not in the Cards for Anyone, Including Yourself?

Plant-nurtured-by-hands Sure, everyone knows that if your business is going to survive, it will have to change. That doesn’t mean you have to like it. In fact, maybe whining about it is good for you.Everyone has to change except you and me. Why — because we’re right and we know what’s good for everyone else. Why won’t they get on board instead of getting in my way.

Well, maybe it’s not them. Could it be you?

How you view and treat people has a lot to do with the outcome of the situation.  Just because people don’t agree with you doesn’t mean they won’t change. Maybe they don’t see or understand why the change is coming now. The best thing you can do is adjust your mindset and attempt to understand the people and the situation around you.

People not agreeing with you? Maybe that's a good thing — a way to help you "tweak" necessary changes in your thinking. Even the most difficult of naysayers may have valuable insight into the situation. Before you start firing those for not agreeing with you, consider what is going on around you.

On a personal level, I was involved with a project that was destined to fail. The product was just too different for the market — and way ahead of its time. The person who was spearheading the project had very strong opinions and was well-liked and respected. It was obvious to me that much of the agreement was due to the person's position rather than the marketability of the product. As the focus group leader I picked up underlying feelings that were not positive to the project. When I related this information my comments were considered negative and "in the way" of moving forward. Rather than question the information from the focus groups or listen to those closest to the project, the person  pushed the project through and a great deal of money was lost by the investors.

Success in anything is often due to "timing and economic climate" — it is not always advantageous to be first. Being first can be costly and not always a competitive advantage. In this case, waiting a year or two to introduce the project would have made a huge difference.  For interesting insights on "timing," pick up a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s wonderful book, Outliers.

Make sure everyone is told about the changes and how they will be affected. Change is complicated. Often times those who initiate the changes forget that many of those most affected by the changes haven't had enough time to think about what the changes will mean to them or don't even really understand anything about the changes. Consider the part-time worker who just vaguely hears about the change or the person who is the farthest from the decision maker. "There are few things that can shatter a person's view of the world like the discovery that all that was thought to be true no longer holds," says Wayne Hurlbert, consultant out of Winnipeg, Canada. To find out that everything one knows is wrong can be devastating news for many people. It doesn't have to be that way.

Explain how the change is in line with the business mission. Change, if presented right, just means the next step in your business plan. It's important to explain to everyone how the changes will affect not only employees but their customers. Remember, we are all here to serve the customers. If it's the next step for the customer it's the next step for us.

Listen to those around you. Often time owners don't listen to those closest to the customers. It's not unusual for owners to purchase products or attend trade shows without any of their sales staff. What you're seeing as resistance to change may be just the people around you voicing valuable opinions. For a clear picture, your feedback loop needs to be open, not closed. As I recall from history, the court jester was often asked his opinion because his ideas were always "out of the box."

Welcome challenging ideas from your employees. Maybe your employees aren't being stubborn; maybe those thoughts which appear to be challenges to your ideas will actually lead to new and better solutions. Remember those closest to the  problems have an insight that is much different than the vision from 35,000 feet.

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