Change isn’t easy for everyone. Yet successful organizations are changing all the time, seeking to streamline processes to save time and money, to create a safer environment, to serve clients better, or reduce employee stress. A willingness to change opens the door to countless opportunities, yet executives of every rank can be reluctant, avoiding risk in favor of what’s worked in the past.
If you are involved in implementing a process improvement initiative at your workplace, be ready for road blocks. There is no shortage for devil’s advocates when it comes to changing the way things are. The needed change can be obvious, yet getting everyone on board may be the biggest challenge.
Here are some tips on facing the naysayers:
Leaders Aren’t All on Board
Got statistics? Show them. If you’ve got surveys that demonstrate a high percentage of your clients want a more streamlined process for purchasing online, that’s a strong weight in your favor. How does your online site compare to a competitors? Have you found a way to make your company’s site even better? Show the facts, create a comparison, including an interactive example where the leaders can act like consumers.
If you have stubborn decision-makers in fear of change, it’s time to meet with them individually — well before group-think takes over at the decision-makers’ meeting and paralyzes the process. Know the communication style that works best with each leader. How do they best consume information? Do they focus on details, or broader key outcomes?
During your one-to-one meeting, ask advice and use their advice for the final presentation. If you make it more of a ‘team decision’ vs. a team of leaders saying yes or no to one person’s idea, you will likely be more successful. Let others put their “name” on it. Always allow for minor changes so leaders can have their input and the final product ends up as a team decision that’s ready to roll into action.
Although you know who did all the work, this is no time to claim credit. It’s more important to implement change. The top brass usually know who drove the process, and kudos will go to you if it succeeds. With everybody on board, you won't have to worry about employees receiving mixed messages from leaders who can’t agree.
Initiatives Not Taken Seriously
The problem with some companies is that they go from one process improvement initiative to another without digging deep enough to find how to get the best results. Do your research. Get focused. This is not time to dabble. Otherwise you’re jumping on one fad-diet bandwagon after another without ever making a concerted effort to eat better and exercise. If you commit to an initiative, gather your experts to support your idea, follow through and give it enough time so you can fairly analyze the results and report them. Set clear benchmarks and schedule times for feedback and troubleshooting. Remember that mistakes are stepping stones to success. Present your package only when it’s ready.
Process Improvement Without Cultural Change
Companies often resort to the quick fix when an employee identifies a problem, covering the symptom but not addressing the problem. Broader changes within the company might be needed to entirely solve the problem for the long run.
While the quick fix may keep the problem from exacerbating, the single-handed effort won’t fix the problem for good. To eradicate the problem, it may require research or weeks of planning to get a permanent fix to work.
A well-planned approach to change, whether radical or incremental, often turns out to be the safest choice, as opposed to repeating a process of trial and error.
If you're looking for creative ways to address the challenges of change at your company, Venture Up is the leader in interactive training and team-building. Since 1983 Venture Up has worked in concert with in-house trainers to help implement process improvement with work teams of all levels – from laborers, warehouse employees, union workers and all professional levels.