You have just come back from a great break. You really did earn this one - last year really did take its toll on you. But that was so last year, now you are really looking forward to the opportunities you have. The enthusiasm is high, your picture of the end goal - crystal clear.
As you are driving into the office, you do ask yourself - “so how can I get the team behind this?” Before shooting off both hips with ideas and enthusiasm, just pause and think how are you going to make this a success.
The first step you need to take when starting a business improvement process is setting a clear objective about what you want to achieve. Keeping the message clear and simple. Don’t send out a 24 page document with 18 different objectives. Alongside the message will be the why.
Why is this important?
The company is doing ok, so why do we need to change?
What will happen if you don’t do anything, stay the same, don’t develop your services or products/
Provide a compelling set of reasons why any of this change is necessary. If the business has been successfully growing, you may need to focus on improving productivity, improving processes so they are keeping up with increased turnover. Make sure all your team members understand the reasons for any potential changes. Team engagement is going to be your critical success factor.
Now if you are going to be communicating to your team, make sure it is a two-way process. Be open to questions. If the team is asking questions, it means the team is engaged with the process. Be prepared to repeat the message each day for the first month. Keep on the message. Change how you deliver your objectives. Team meetings, newsletters, smaller meetings, informal chats in the lunchroom. They are all needed to capture the different communication styles. This part of the process is not a one hit wonder. As much as you think the team has heard the plan and it all should fall nicely into place, it needs to be reinforced and supported.
Make sure the leadership team is onboard and sharing the same message. You may have to go through this process first with them before launching a company wide message. The chances of success are basically zero if there is any confusion amongst the leadership group.
If the penny hasn’t dropped already, the key message in this whole process is the power of communication before rushing off and starting something that people are not understanding the whole purpose. As much as this can be frustrating, it will save you more time in the long run - trust me. It will also dramatically increase your chances of success.
So you have just started the process to raise the awareness of your desire to change, make an improvement. Now you need to consider the motivation of the teams and individuals, or in other words “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM). How is the change going to impact different people in different roles, consider the varying viewpoints. Also there may be some of your team that have ‘been there, done that’. If your ideas have been tried before (or at least something similar), be cognisant of that history. Communicate the difference - timing, market changes, equipment now available, keeping up with competitors.
Finally respect the caution of individuals or teams. Humans can react in strange ways, so be ready to deal with people seeking security of their jobs, income, career opportunities. Everyone is in a different space, as a result their perspective on the situation may be different. Again, just pause and reflect the alternatives before rushing off implementing your ideas.
In summary, reflect on the following before starting that new idea for 2021.
Have you got a clear vision in mind
Can you and the leadership team communicate this vision
Take your time repeating the message
Consider the challenges, perspective of teams & individuals
Think about the concerns and motivations before starting
Like all plans, the more time spent in the planning and communication phase, the better chance you will have for success.