Resisting change is just human nature, and it’s particularly onerous for the distributor that’s been doing things the same way for a long time, and whose employees and leaders have followed suit. Fortunately, there are ways to push everyone out of that groove and get them focused on the future. Robyn M. Bolton, founder of consulting firm MileZero, gives electrical distributors these five good starting points for becoming more adaptable and future-proof:
- Identify interdependencies. Are there some ideas that need to happen to enable others to start? Identify the ideas/initiatives that are key to enabling others, Bolton says, and then move those “key enablers” to the top of your priority list.
- Don’t worry about the size of the initiative. “Often, the projects with the biggest potential impact will be the most complex,” Bolton says, “but sometimes you’ll be surprised and discover a fairly simple and straightforward project that will make a big impact.”
- Avoid overwhelming everyone. Even though people say they want change, they don’t want to be changed. The status quo is comfortable for most people, says Bolton, so our natural tendency is to resist change. “As a result, any change—no matter how small—can meet resistance,” she continues, “which is why it’s important not to overwhelm people with too many changes and/or big changes all at once.”
- Roll out a key enabler that will produce results within 3-6 months. “Skepticism is one of the main killers of change and innovation in organizations,” Bolton says, adding that most of us will see a lot of different ideas come and go during our lifetimes. “Try starting and finishing an initiative quickly so that people can experience the change,” Bolton suggests. This will convince people that change is possible, and that this isn’t just the latest “flavor of the month.”
- Communicate the what and the why. “Usually, executives explain what is going to change and how it will happen,” says Bolton, “but they never explain why.” In the absence of this information, employees make up stories and come up with their own conclusions. Bolton says distributors can avoid this by simply enrolling people in the reasons why change is needed. “They’ll be more likely to accept the change,” says Bolton, “and to keep the faith if the ‘how’ needs to pivot.”
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