When you commit to change, it’s important to put processes in place that keep the change working.
Nothing ever stays the same. No matter how comfortable we are with a situation, it will not last forever. It’s crazy that our initial reaction is to fear change. But it’s human nature.
Even if the change is for the best, we are skeptical. We look for all the reasons why this could spell out bad things for us.
We will stay in a situation that we know is terrible, because it is easier than enduring the pain of change.
When you are the leader of a business, you’re not simply wrestling with your own security issues. Most likely, you have employees that have a more difficult time adopting change than you. Identifying some of the underlying issues can help you make changes within your organization in a positive way.
Your technicians will accept change much easier if they trust and respect you. Despite the fears associated with change, it’s easier to internalize and embrace a situation when the leader asking them to change has earned their respect and had their backs.
This doesn’t mean the change is always better for the technician. They need to trust you’re doing it because it’s in the best interest of the company, and the benefit may be long-term stability or growth opportunities.
Think of a general leading troops into battle: The situation may be bad, but the soldiers need to know their leader cares about them and the mission is important. If you’ve implemented change poorly or for the wrong reasons in the past, it has probably cost you some trust.
Identify your objective. Why do we need to change, and will the changes make a difference?
For example, if you have a high direct labor issue, it doesn’t necessarily mean the pay plan is the problem. Going through the pain of changing a pay plan can be difficult. You could go through everything involved in that change, only to realize the real issue was actively managing your team’s hours worked, production and overtime.
Do your due diligence before jumping into change. Make data-based decisions and check to ensure your data is correct. Use all your resources, such as your management team, business coach or peers to evaluate your problem before shooting from the hip.
Too much change, too fast can be difficult for some people to absorb. If you’re always “chasing the shiny object” and looking for the magic solution, your technicians learn to watch and wait until it blows over.
When you commit to change, it’s important to put processes in place that keep the change working. An example of this would be rolling out a new purchasing process with a new vendor and later finding out everyone continued to purchase at the old vendor, because the account was not closed or the purchase orders were not scrutinized.
If the old way is still available, then many will continue to use it.
There are some techniques that will make change management a lot easier. If you make changes the right way, it can go smoothly. If you make changes the wrong way, it can be mutinous.
Identify the biggest challenge you’re going to face when making a change. Write it down so you can make a plan to address it. If there is more than one challenge, then write those down as well. Make action plans to overcome them. Identify which or all of the following categories will be affected by this change:
- People’s development
- Process change
- Personal growth
It’s also important to do some self-evaluation to determine if the area affected by this change is aligned with your strength, or if someone else is better suited to lead the charge on this change initiative.
For example, if you’re not technically inclined, you’d probably not be the best person to implement tablets in the field. You may not have a choice, but if you do have better options, use them or identify outside resources to support you.
Whenever practical, beta test the changes you’re putting in place. One area where this is particularly important is pay. Changing a pay plan without having a thorough understanding of the effects it can have can be costly and make you look bad. Sometimes, we don’t know what we don’t know until a process is tested.
Make a list of the people or groups of people who will be supportive in implementing the changes you want to make.
Determine how receptive they will be to the change and who will be your supporters. It’s helpful to enlist these supporters as “change agents” to help influence the rest of the team “that this is going to be okay” or “this is no big deal.” It helps if these supporters are respected leaders within the company.
Next, identify who or which groups will be your biggest challenge in implementing this change. Sometimes these are technicians who have been with you a long time and who are more rooted in the old ways.
Try to identify why they are resistant to the changes you are implementing, and look for ways to make the change positive in their eyes. This will not always be easy, or even possible, for that matter.
Look for other areas where you may need to make a concession or have thought about changing. It will be easier for someone to absorb change they consider negative if there is some obvious upside at the same time.
Make a communication plan. This is more important than it may initially seem. Have you ever heard something from someone and wondered, “How did they know that before me?”
Not hearing about change before others can make a person feel negative about the change and maybe even a little disrespected. Think about who should hear about the change first. If there are different technician groups or employees who are affected, then think about the order of when each group should be notified — maybe the whole company should be notified in one meeting.
If there’s a chance the change you make will be poorly received, you may be better off to have these discussions individually. You’re less likely to have an angry mob on your hands when you have sincere, personal talks with individuals or small groups.
Again, consider the order of whom you speak with. It is advantageous to communicate the change with your team members who will support the changes and help bring the rest of the team around.
Make a training plan. The more confusion that surrounds a change, the more difficult it will be to implement.
Some changes are complex: software, hardware or procedural changes may require ongoing training until the team is effective in the process and comfortable. There can be a lot of training preparation involved in rolling out changes of that magnitude.
Some of the training may be in classrooms and require training aids, PowerPoint, curriculum, etc. Other resources could be handouts and aids to help the technicians in the field. There may be outside resources to support the changes, such as help lines or online support.
If any of those resources are not in place, then don’t be in a big hurry to roll out changes before they’re in place. You’ll set yourself up for failure or, at the very least, a rocky road. The better you execute, the more comfortable the team will be with the changes you implement.
Measurement and Goals
Set goals, tracking and measuring, whenever possible, that will support the changes you make. Tying individual goals to the company goal can drive performance and compliance. It also gives you a dashboard of the effects of the changes you make.
Sometimes, the measuring tool is your income statement. Another way to drive change is to tie it to something competitive, such as contests or spiffs, when applicable. It’s a best practice to have metrics for one-on-one coaching sessions.
These coaching sessions are critical to reinforce changes and get feedback you might not otherwise get about how the change is progressing.
It’s natural to fear change in your company. You get in a comfort zone and, although certain areas could be better, you often accept performances you should not.
As a leader, you have to learn to embrace change. Believe that better things are going to happen and that change is good. Change is going to happen, whether you want it to or not. You cannot always control it, but you can control how you react to it.