Business coach Lynda Bayada says the first step is to ensure you’re doing it for the right reasons.
“A lot of times I hear people talking about the next best thing, but the next innovation could actually be out of alignment with where you want to go. It’s easy to get caught up in the fact that it’s shiny and new and everyone else is doing it. Sit down and look at what it really means for your business, what the deliverables are and if they will take you in the direction that you want. If not, it is going to be absolutely pointless.”
If the change doesn’t fit with the current culture of your business, this process needs to be taken in two steps – first, implement education around the new culture, ensure that change is settled, and then introduce another.
“If you’re an organization that has been quite stable, any changes you do bring on-board will be frame-breaking. If you’re an organization that is used to change, what happens is changes become incremental, people become more used to that and it starts rolling.”
Budgeting and planning should take up 40-60 per cent of the time allowed for the entire project, says Bayada, and it’s best to overestimate your budget and look at all potential barriers before beginning.
“I always like to ask myself, ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ That way you have a mitigation factor for all the little things. That is the simplest, most effective question you can ask yourself.”
Communication is the key
When you’re clear on all of this, the next step is to communicate this with your staff.
Whether you, another staff member or an outsourced professional will be the main point of contact for the change will depend on workloads and levels of expertise, but it’s important to decide on one person and stick with that to avoid confusion, says Bayada.
Strong support and trust in that person from all levels of management then needs to be clearly communicated to staff. If you have middle management or multiple directors in your organization, meet together first to ensure a united front.
“It’s so important that the people who are going to communicate the change are involved upfront and have an understanding of what’s going on and can put it in layman’s terms to people,” says Bayada.
Following this, the more one-on-one contact you can have with your staff to communicate the change, the better they will feel about it and the less likelihood there will be for resistance.
“Make sure you tell them what you’re thinking of doing, ask them what they think, what they think it will mean for the business and how do they think they might be able to contribute. The more involved they are the more accountable they are, the more committed they are and the more they will identify with it.”
People will naturally resist change, but by clearly explaining what the direct benefits of the change are for them individually, you can help to minimise this, says Bayada.
“Make sure that everyone’s role in this change is very clear, and if the change is going to affect their normal day-to-day activities then it needs to be outlined in their new roles and responsibilities so they’ve got a sense of ownership around what their new role will be as well.”
Empower your employees by being clear in outcomes, but give them the autonomy and authority to implement the change themselves, she says.
If you still find resistance from one or two employees, it’s important to not make assumptions, says Bayada. Sit down with them individually and ask questions to find out what is the true reason behind this.
“You will always find one. And it could come down to many, many things. Perhaps they’re going through some upheaval or change in their personal life and they’re becoming overwhelmed. Perhaps the change is not the best thing to do in their eyes for the business and it’s important to listen to that feedback and take that on board.”
The most effective way to have these conversations is to use inclusive language, and ensure you’re truly listening to what they’re saying and not putting words into their mouth, says Bayada.
By maintaining complete transparency, the likelihood that a resistant team member will influence other staff is reduced.
“If people are getting all of the information and they feel like they can trust that, if there’s no secrecy there between management and staff then the less impact someone who might want to poison the situation will have.”
The mortgage industry never stands still, and neither should your business. But with two in every three change management strategies destined for failure, how can you set your business up for a successful transition?