5 Tips to Drive Internal Change
By Ted Miller and Amie Gray, DataKey Consulting, LLC
Getting Out of the Gate
Inertia is a difficult force to overcome. Driving internal change is dependent on a company’s ability to mobilize behind an objective, make continual progress, and see the project through to the end. And no one person can enact change on his or her own; to truly be successful, change must have support throughout the entire organization. Almost every company has struggled with internal change. Even with a brilliant strategy and enthusiastic leadership, all too often those leaders will find themselves in the frustrating position of being within sight of the finish line but unable to reach it. This is rarely due to shortcomings of individuals or of the plan itself, but rather due to the nature of the beast. Change is hard.
A Clear Vision Isn’t Enough
Typically, the leadership of a company has a clear picture of where the business needs to be in a certain timeframe. Grow this division to $500M in revenues in 5 years, or double the volume growth rate of a particular product line by next fiscal year. With a goal in mind, the management team sets to devising a plan to reach that goal, or maybe brings in an outside consultant to provide unbiased expertise. A plan is wrought, everyone seems to be on board, but soon it’s apparent that something’s not working. Progress reaches a plateau and won’t budge for weeks. Meetings are spent rehashing the same old issues instead of focusing on what’s next. Before long, the project is abandoned and it’s back to the drawing table. What went wrong?
Unsuccessful internal change is generally the result of a variety of factors, which compound to prevent real change from ever getting out of gate. Change requires organization, planning, socialization, flexibility, and dedication. It requires an understanding that it’s not going to be easy, and that there may be bumps along the way. It requires accountability, tracking, risk management, and good old-fashioned hard work. Most of all, change requires confidence. Everyone involved must believe that they, as individuals and as a team, have the ability to push through difficult or uncomfortable situations in order to reach a common goal.
Tips to Drive Successful Change throughout your Organization
- Start with a comprehensive plan. Detailed, measureable, achievable goals are great, but also consider risks and countermeasures to anticipate and resolve problems before they happen. Do you foresee clashes in the personalities involved or opposition to tinkering with long-standing processes? The more you are prepared for in advance, the easier it will be to address issues as they surface.
- Set your team up for success with the right tools to assign responsibility and track progress against goals. Goals should have clear ownership by individuals. Regular status meetings give everyone the chance to share successes and will keep each team member accountable for delivering on time.
- Before implementing a plan, socialize it with all of the key stakeholders. Make sure that everyone the plan depends on is bought in, from the top of the management chain all the way to the mailroom. Even an entry-level employee can undermine a major initiative if there is not broad support and dedication established.
- Make it a priority. Management needs to be vocal about why this initiative is important and how it will benefit everyone within the company, and also needs to solicit (and react to) feedback. Employees must have confidence that the people at the top support the project, and that those people will do what it takes to make sure it’s successful, even if it means taking constructive criticism.
- Always be looking to improve. Once the process is complete, reflect back on which aspects were successful, which weren’t, and why. Document this learning and be sure to incorporate the lessons from this project into the next.
Sometimes change requires an outside catalyst to really make it stick. DataKey integrates unbiased leadership and world-class expertise directly into your team to get the results you need fast. With proven tools, dedicated capacity, and best practice experience, DataKey can help your team hit the ground running.
Ted Miller, Founder and President of DataKey Consulting, LLC can be reached directly at (914) 945-8808, or via email at Ted@DataKeyConsulting.com