In our company, we constantly push ourselves to figure out how to change and improve in order to grow. Part of the pushing comes from an external source (the executive coach I mention in a recent post), but increasingly it’s our own recognition that if we’re going to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, it’s up to us to figure out how to do it.
Setting goals is fun. Achieving them is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. The hard part of it is that it’s…hard.
Hitting your goals, assuming they’re challenging ones, requires that you do things differently. And, as we all know, changing even the smallest habits can be really hard. In business, changing habits means changing how we work – our processes.
Changing processes is quite challenging, particularly if the process involves multiple people and responsibilities. Each person who’s involved has to change what they do and how they do it, which is where you’re likely to run into difficulties.
This brings us to “Today’s Word”, to borrow Stephen Colbert’s phrase:
mis-o-ne-ism [mis-oh-nee-iz-uhm]: Hatred or dislike of what is new or represents change
We all know that most people dislike change, and some truly hate it – and will do everything in their power to keep the status quo (just look at your typical bureaucrat for evidence of that). In our company, over the years, we’ve done many things to avoid change. Let me know if any of these sound familiar:
- Form a committee to investigate a particular subject; the committee report ends up on a bookshelf.
- Report on progress for a period of time, and then gradually stop doing so.
- Run into roadblocks that appear to be insurmountable, and then give up.
- See initial benefit and results from the energy of one “true believer”, but then their enthusiasm is gradually worn down by the misoneists.
I’m sure you’ve never seen anything like this in your company!
To be successful in new business, we have to change and adapt. This means that as new business leaders, we have to be comfortable with change and need to make those upon whom we rely to get things done similarly comfortable with change. That’s hard.
Here are a few of the things that we’ve learned about change, which may be of use to you if you’re going to be a change agent in your agency:
- Set goals with the key people who will help you be successful.
- Break each goal down into all the steps that you can think of. For example, we recently had a brainstorming session to identify information we needed to know and have at our fingertips in order to create a series of projects that would, together, allow us to achieve one part of one goal.
- Set milestones for each of the steps along the way to achieving each goal.
- Assign responsibilities to each step or process or project.
- Assign due dates for each.
- Set a series of weekly meetings, when each team member is responsible to give a status report to the group. Meet immediately afterwards to resolve or bring resources to bear on significant issues.
By embracing this type of process, which breaks change down into small pieces and makes it a normal part of every day, change is becoming just another thing that we do.
Hopefully you’ll find this to be a useful technique to use with your new business team.