As the Beatles said in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “We’re getting very near the end.” And so, here’s the ninth post in our ten-post series on 50 Common Sense Tips for Mastering Organization Change. Once again, these tips hold true whether you’re implementing a new process, a software rollout, or a transitional culture change.
Points 41-45 below continue the Engaging phase in the three-step process I refer to as Planning, Selling, and Engaging.
41. Train, Train, Train – There’s a well-known saying, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” (I’ve also seen a variation of this that says, “Try stupidity.”) Training is often overlooked or shortchanged, yet it’s one of the most critical success factors of any endeavor. A lack of training will not only lead to mistakes, it can lead to frustration, negativity, and ultimately, apathy—all of which can spread like wildfire. Give your people the right tools and training to thrive, and you’ll boost your success rate exponentially. Plus, it’s an investment that can pay dividends. In one sector, the printing industry, a study showed that those companies in the top 25th percentile in profitability spent a proportionately higher percentage on training than their less profitable counterparts.
42. Be a Coach, Not an Umpire – Focus on shaping behavior, not grading it. As noted British Professor Philip Grammage said, and as many companies are now realizing, “Nobody ever grew taller by being measured.” Make an effort to find out the barriers people are facing in adopting the change, and find ways to help them address those barriers. But be sure to practice situational leadership. Some people need coaching more than others. Some can be left alone. Your job as a leader is to know the difference. And it can vary based on what they’re being asked to do. Read The Situational Leader, by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, which outlines a model for adapting your management style to each person’s readiness for a given situation.
43. Forget the Golden Rule – In First Break All the Rules, authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman suggest that one of the first rules to break is the “golden rule,” which is: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Instead, they suggest treating others the way THEY want to be treated. Learn people’s preferences for communication and guidance. Be flexible enough to adapt to different needs. This can differ by region, functional area, or other demographics. It can even differ by each individual. It’s not only a matter of empathy; it will help you frame your communication to multiple parties in a way they’ll best absorb.
44. Watch for Jell-O – It’s been said that middle management is the “Jell-O layer” of an organization. Messages tend get stuck on the way up and on the way down. Don’t let your valuable initiative get stuck in Jell-O. Be sure your middle management is on board and acting in line with your desired culture. How will you know? In general, employee surveys, training, organizational diagnostic tools, policies, and general observation can help assure that your managers are on board and messages are being communicated both ways.
Bonus tip! Ricardo Semler wrote a book called Maverick, which details how he turned his company Semco into one of the most unusual, most profitable, and fastest growing companies around. As their culture is such a vital part of their success, Semco surveys employees every six months on how well their supervisors are living up to it.
45. Re-recruit Good People – Retention of top employees will be vital to your change efforts. Again, middle management is key. People generally choose to stay or leave a job based on their relationship with their supervisor. Meet with your top employees and make a special effort to address their concerns and make them feel an important part of the effort. Sports teams treat their star performers well. It should be no different in business.
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