By Bridget McCrea
Change management guru Jeff Magee shares his top tips for getting your employees and managers to embrace and support change in today's competitive business environment.
Whether they're exploring new markets, taking on new product lines, or hiring new employees, today's electrical distributors are in a constant state of change (whether they know it or not). Some of those changes take place behind the scenes and require little more than a decision or two, but others need organization-wide buy-in to work as planned.
“For many organizations, a five-year strategic plan—or even a three-year one—is a thing of the past. Organizations that once enjoyed the luxury of time to test and roll out new initiatives must now do so in a compressed period while competing with tens or hundreds of existing (and often incomplete) initiatives,” according to McKinsey & Co.'s Changing change management. “In this dynamic and fast-paced environment, competitive advantage will accrue to companies with the ability to set new priorities and implement new processes quicker than their rivals.”
The question is, how can you effectively gain this buy-in and infuse a positive change management approach into your corporate culture? The mission isn't an easy one, but the payoff is well worth it. Here, Jeffrey Magee, a leadership and marketing strategist publisher of Performance/P360 Magazine in The ABCs of Managing Change for Performance Impact, outlines eight success tips that distributors can start using right now:
- Start raising awareness of the need for change right now. Don't wait until your company is behind the 8-ball and absolutely has to change on the dime. Start talking about it, communicating it, and collaborating on the change today.
- Learn your employees' and managers' motivations. As you read in “Thinking Outside of the Box: How to Get Your Employees to Embrace Change,” employees tend to take a pretty selfish approach to organizational change. The question “what's in it for me?” literally has to be addressed and answered for all stakeholders. Ignore this step and the detractors could start to surface pretty quickly.
- Determine if money or recognition will work. The first way to get people to buy into your ideas is money-oriented, and involves pay raises, bonuses, commissions, or incentives. “Money is a real motivator for some people,” says Magee. “So if you tell them that the change will lead to bigger deals—and bigger payouts—a certain number of people will want to get a piece of that pie.” Recognition is another good approach. “People like to be recognized as the champions, the rocks, the subject matter experts, or the go-to people,” says Magee, “which translates into employee of the month awards, plaques, and certificates of recognition.”
- Put a spotlight on the greater good. If money or recognition won't work, then it's time to investigate the key intrinsic drivers that will get employees on your side. Someone may really want to be known as the person who drove the change, took ownership of it, and made it happen, for example. Another person may enjoy leadership roles, and may want to see everyone “come together” for the sake of change. “When people see a good reason to come together, they'll participate,” says Magee, “and be motivated by the intrinsic need to participate for the sake of the [greater good].”
- Learn your ABCs. Regardless of what kind of change you want to infuse into your distributorship, Magee says there are three basic ABCs to follow. “To fast-track change in a world that may be to some moving too fast,” he says, “consider these three models for performance execution (implementation) success.”
A = Activating event for which there will always be one; it is the never-ending starting point.
B = Your behavior that is associated or blended into the activating events that if unchecked, unguided, or unsupported can guide one into a state of complacent behaviors, that breeds habits, that breeds ones' personal operational styles, or that feeds one's emotional belief that he or she is at peak performance and doing everything right.
C = Calibrated desired outcome, goals, objectives, or success that is based on measurable key performance indicators (KPIs).
- Put a focus on the long-term benefits. How many times have you been asked to upgrade a piece of software for no apparent reason, or hand over your personal information at a retail cash register in exchange for basically nothing? Asking employees to change for no apparent reason is equally as uncompelling. “Many times, people can't picture the big vision or the long-term strategy behind the change itself,” says Magee. “The key is to help them understand what they're doing today, this week, and this month impacts the overall vision. Ignore this step and they'll lose the enthusiasm for the change.”
- Break it down into digestible chunks. Telling employees that the distributorship wants to grow by 20% next year is great, but actually getting there requires a series of well-orchestrated steps and strategies. By breaking big goals down into digestible chunks—some of which should address specific employees and their roles and responsibilities—you can make change management more palatable for the entire team. Use a blend of immediate, intermediate, and long-term goals, says Magee, and realize that it may take time for all workers to understand (and work toward) those missions.
- Get the key influencers involved. Figure out who needs to be involved in the change, and then get those key influencers onboard with the process. Those influencers will then spread the good word, educate other employees, and serve as the “champions of change” for your distributorship. “You'll need these folks on your side to support the change and make it happen,” says Magee, who advises companies to select key influencers across all generations (baby boomers, Gen X, and Millennials, for best results). “Identify them early, set up an ad hoc committee, put the data in front of them, and conduct some 'awareness' information gathering.”
In the end, Magee says companies that focus on change management and weave it into their corporate culture will not only avoid the fate of retailers like Woolworth and Kmart, but they'll also be able to thrive in today's disruptive business environment. “Companies have a lot of great reasons to be successful,” says Magee, “not the least of which are their employees, many of whom are like family members, and who depend on their employers for their livelihoods.”
McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at email@example.com or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.
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