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Leading Change … but First Energize your Team March 11, 2011

Posted by PerformDetectiv in Uncategorized.
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It has become so popular in Corporate America and especially for business pundits to latch on to the latest methodologies for Change and Performance Improvement.  We readily encourage and talk about the next greatest approach to improving success.  Perhaps it is the competitive nature of finding the corporate fountain of youth but certainly it is fostered by the entire race for businesses to realize new ways to somehow be better and faster and then produce it cheaper.  Somewhere along the way we have lost the vision of what it really takes to properly identify, plan for and ultimately sustain that goal.

We can look through the business literature and realize a solid evolution of finding ways for quality initiatives, effective lean processes, higher employee productivity, process re-engineering, merger and acquisition integrations, product improvement, customer service enhancements.  But where and how do we identify where to begin and what is most important to focus on. Given the complexity it is quite easy to see that we have generally not done a good job at maintaining our focus nor our objectives in this effort.  We find that in many areas American products and many services are less than enthusiastically received.

So what must we do, if we are indeed serious about competing, if not on the global level then within our own country and state or just within our own city.  Quite frankly there are many “How to?” processes and techniques from lots of different and talented sources.  It can be said that we must focus on the obvious first… but sometimes that “elephant in the room” is more of a symptom of bigger or more fundamental issues. It can accurately be said that any call-to-arms is of necessity a request for the entire team to be engaged… and at a very early stage.

One of the leading change authors has highlighted that there first needs to be a sense of urgency, built around a core group that then develops an identifiable vision.  The process then needs to insure that there is a actionable strategy a that can be communicated and taken to core employees for the beginning implementation.  Finally an ongoing process of short term wins which can consolidate and preserve the change and ultimately find ways to solidify the new approaches.  Sounds pretty solid … but it’s also related that this process eventually breaks-down more often than it succeeds.

So what can be done to help the “Change Process” along? Well it may seem simplistic but most of the time the success or failure ends to fall squarely on our inability to effectively communicate with and among all of the team members.  Once again there is a fundamental difference between leadership and management but more importantly there is a tremendous cavern between building understanding and building acceptance.  Part of this rush to perform, has been the constant emphasis for new companies that are raised on a promise of a quick IPO or potential for near term acquisition.  Somewhere we have lost the fundamentals of what makes and breaks great companies.

The sense for just needing to find increased effectiveness is a very common desire.  That productivity and performance enhancement can usually dramatically help the bottom line, but just as quickly a poorly designed program can fall apart and evaporate.  Maybe the most important element is that we all want lasting transformations to be enduring, and the only way to truly do this, is by following a plan that all of your people buy into.  So how can that happen and how is it managed?

The first step is to know your team and more importantly for each member of the team to know how to value each other, differences and all.  Second it becomes essential that the business team can effectively communicate and interact with one another.  The third step is to stress working at a higher level to infuse a new value for proper change behavior.   Fourth is to begin to understand that not everyone is able to accept change, much less being able to contribute to it.  Fifth all of this needs to be measured and communicated regularly in a positive light to the entire team. When you can regularly see the ongoing results, and it is obvious that the company and its management actually value and care about it, then you have chance to succeed.

Identify that Change is really an approach for a valued culture switch which respects well thought out innovation and continuous improvement, not just following the existing status quo. Remember that your people have the untold power to make or break all your great initiatives… make it “their initiatives”.

The Performance Detective