New business systems and processes are often born out of desperation — the timely plea, “there must be a better way!” But the same tasks and projects we can’t wait to fix may not be top priority for a coworker or employee who is just fine with the way things are now.
While you may be ready to embrace change, implement new software or just create new rules around email, getting the whole team on board can be a task in itself.
Plus the very same people who give lip service to adopting new systems are often the ones who avoid or even actively sabotage implementation efforts. Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re announcing and adopting new processes for your own business.
Reach for empathy first. Before anything else, consider that your employees and team may not care or even worry about how efficiently and easily your business runs. Systems are often ways to save time — and money — so share these goals with your team before announcing all the changes they’ll be making. Be sure to remind them of the value it holds for the whole team.
Motivation can be as simple as saying, “I want to help this team manage our paperwork more efficiently so you can spend less time in the office and more time out on sales calls. It’s work up front, but this should allow us to reach our sales targets faster — which means better bonuses.”
Or, “Switching over to a new accounting software is going to be time intensive this month, but for the rest of the year we should be able to quicken our collections process. Since you’ll be spending less time chasing invoices, we’ll have time to work on the annual holiday party.”
Know the underlying issues. In some cases, those same inefficiencies you seek to resolve represent job security to an employee. After all, if they’re the only one who can wrestle with that software or locate files, then they can’t ever be fired, right? Other employees might beg off, insisting that what you’re asking is too complicated, that the software too difficult and that things are fine how they are. While these conflicts can be generational, the willingness of an employee to support changes within the organization will vary.
For the most extreme cases, you may need to reassign or fire a noncompliant employee who absolutely refuses to adapt. But if you plan your approach carefully, you should be able to work with your team instead of against them.
Ensure systems adoption goes smoothly. Whether as a manager or owner, getting the compliance of your team is critical. While some employees may have legitimate concerns, you can make the process of adopting new systems easier by working slowly, getting buy-in and rewarding change.
- Working slowly might seem counter productive when you’re enthused about making changes, but moving too fast can throw the business into chaos. Work on one major change at a time, wrap it up and give your teams a few days of normalcy before embarking on the next big change.
- Getting buy-in from your team isn’t pandering, it’s strategic. You’ll want their input on what works, ideas to implement and feedback on the process. Respect the people who will be implementing these changes day in and day out by engaging them in the decision making.
- Reward change by celebrating the accomplishments of your people. Whether by informal parties to surprise your team or a structured bonus gift, building a more efficient and streamlined business shouldn’t just improve the bottom line but morale as well.
Deciding to make a change in your business operations is a great first step, but seeing it through to the end will require the support of your people each step of the way.