My work with clients creates dramatic revenue growth by making some basic organizational changes. But change can also be implementing new marketing, using a new customer relationship management (CRM) system, altering your hiring process, or simply introducing new product lines.
In all of these changes, we want managers and staff to do something new. The problem is most people don’t like doing new things. Change is uncomfortable. As a rule, people are wired to resist change.
In fact, you might hear the following resistance:
- “This is just another flavor of the month.” (Or, “this too shall pass!”)
- “We don’t need to do this.”
- “This won’t work for us.”
- “We’re good without this new stuff. Everything’s good.”
In each case, the main issue is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of having to learn something new. Fear of working harder. Fear of working more. Fear of the implication that the status quo hasn’t been enough. Fear of the discomfort this new work might cause.
But the good news is we can overcome this resistance and implement organizational change effectively. Here’s how:
- Change must come from the top. If it isn’t important to the owner or the CEO, it isn’t going to be important to the managers or the frontline people. Change which starts in the middle levels of your company is nearly impossible to implement because it doesn’t have the energy of top leadership, or the commitment of the staff. Staff must know that the change is important to leadership.
- Accountability is required. In fact, there must be systems for accountability. Tools for planning and measuring the new behaviors should be created and used. Further, managers’ feedback should be systematic and consistent. The new effort must be communicated and discussed actively, in meetings, on the phone, and by e-mail. In fact, a regular flow of communication about the new imitative is one of the keys to implementing it successfully.
- Long-term change must be focused on long term. If you only concentrate on it for two months, your people will look away as soon as you do. Think of yourself as the personal trainer for this initiative.
Corporate change is like a new exercise program: Many times, when people miss the first workout, the entire program ends. They simply don’t return. Diets are the same way: One bad meal or weekend often kills a diet. Don’t let one bad meal kill your company’s new initiative. Keep it in front of the staff, regularly and consistently, for a long time.
- Recognize the successes — publicly. Studies find that recognition among peers is a far more effective motivator than financial compensation. That is, one proactive company-wide compliment is more powerful encouragement than a $1000 bonus, or even a $10,000 bonus. Why? Because it’s public, and it makes the recipient proud.
It also allows peers to witness, and learn from, the person’s successes. Those same peers will now aspire to be recognized next. So we benefit from the psychology of people not wanting to miss out on the next opportunity for recognition. By publicly recognizing one person’s success, you benefit from improved action throughout much of your organization.
Finally, a steady stream of positivity flies around your company when you recognize success regularly. This is tremendously useful for behavioral change. It makes people want to participate, which is far more effective than change which is demanded.
- Recognize those lagging behind — publicly. That’s right, along with complimenting proactively, don’t be afraid to call people out who are simply choosing not to participate.Of course, speak to them privately first, but if that doesn’t help, do it in a meeting or by email.
The key is that this occurs in the same communication where you address the successful implementers. Usually being mentioned like this once is enough. People will do everything they can to never be in the “lagging” group again.
Rolling out a new, companywide effort needs to come from the top; it must be accompanied by a system of accountability; it must be discussed long term; and public recognition should be used to identify overachievers and underachievers.
Alex Goldfayn runs The Revenue Growth Consultancy, a seven-figure consulting practice which regularly creates company-wide change for client organizations. Email Alex directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.alexgoldfayn.com for more information. His latest book, The Revenue Growth Habit, was named the 2015 Sales Book of The Year by 800-CEO-Read. Buy it at Amazon.com.