Embracing A Culture Of Change

To an entrepreneur change is exciting.

Afterall it was some bright idea that kicked things off for you in the first place, right?

Well, while you may thrive off of the new, it’s important to remember that not everyone feels that way.

Comfort levels are easily shaken. Change makes people nervous, especially when it’s unclear how it will affect their personal responsibilities and livelihoods.

So in keeping the concerns of your team in mind, you need to be clear from the start: What is this change accomplishing? Is it necessary? If your team is already executing the basics very well, how is the change you’re proposing an improvement?

Ultimately, while you are considering other factors like how changes will affect your business relationships and customer base, you need to have a strong foundation in place with your team before you try to make any sudden shifts.

You should know why this change needs to happen, and the longer you wait, the more painful it will be to implement.

Many people adopt a formalized change management process in order to ensure things go smoothly. In large organizations (100+ full time employees) this is probably a good idea. But if you’re a small business, it’s important to keep the process as human as possible. That means, being open with the other people involved and approaching things with a sensitivity to their perspective and what this change will mean for them. Of course, in addressing things personally you need to be prepared to encounter some resistance.

In my experience there are usually three different personality types that arise: Givers, Takers, and the actively Disengaged.

Givers are those that are totally on board and run with the change! They want the whole company to succeed so they’re willing to do what it takes to see that happen. However, these are also the type to ask the kind of smart questions that require smart answers. Their eagerness to get things going means you need to be prepared to give them whatever they need to get started!

Takers aren’t necessarily resistant to change, they’re just less invested in the common goal (and the company’s success as a whole). Their interest and lines of questioning are usually limited to how the change will affect them directly. In order to get through to these types you need to introduce things in a way that makes it clear how the change is going to benefit them.

Disengaged individuals aren’t just resistant to change, they actively oppose it. They tend not to ask questions and ultimately spread negativity. While it’s important to be open and understanding to where these people are coming from, in the end it’s best not to waste time trying to convince them. In order to bring the Takers on board and keep the Givers motivated, you have to focus your attention and energy on those that are engaged.

Obviously uncovering some of these personalities might come as a harsh realization in some cases, but ensuring people are in the positions best suited to them and doing things that they’re genuinely passionate about (whether it’s within your company or somewhere else) is a crucial part of embracing change and building a stronger team.

A friend pointed out a great poem by William Ayot (The Contract), that tends to summarize our roles as leaders and those being led:http://www.williamayot.com/contract.htm

Ultimately, being a leader is about trust. You want to surround yourself with people who believe and trust in you, the same way you believe and trust in them. And a big part of building that trust is fostering the right culture within your company, one that will ensure you have the right people by your side when the change comes.

Things to Remember:

  1. Introduce changes to everyone at the same time and in a way that will best enable them to embrace it. It’s ok not to hold back, and just put the change into motion.
  2. Be open about how the changes are going to affect everyone on your team: What will be required of them? Where do they fit in? It’s inevitable there will be push back.
  3. Understand that change is uncomfortable and scary for many people for many different reasons. Not everyone thrives off change the way you do, so be prepared to address the needs of different personality types.
  4. Keep it positive! If this change alters positions within your company, give plenty of notice, and help those affected see this as an opportunity to go off and discover what they’re genuinely passionate about.
  5. Reward those that are engaged: Live up to your leadership position by focusing your attention on the right people and providing them with the answers and information that will help build on their momentum and enthusiasm.

— —

Kyle Nordman is the Principal and Co-Founder of Savoury Chef Foods and the Online Pastry Training Centre. A member of the Vancouver EO Network, Kyle is a firm believer in using technology as a tool for creative success and has a deep passion for sharing his expertise with others. Learn more or get in touch with Kyle at www.savourychef.com