Managing Change

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If you’re going to make a change in your business, there must be a reason for it. Don’t make changes for the sake of it, but rather to follow a plan for improvement. The main reason to implement a change is to fix a specific problem or to improve an important relationship with an employee, department, vendor, or customer.

When presented with the opportunity to change something, we must ask ourselves two questions before implementing anything new. First, “What are we trying to fix?” Next: “Does this proposed change matter to a relationship we want to encourage, support or grow?” If your proposed changes don’t have a definitive or positive answer to these questions, reconsider your plan. Change should have a purpose. Make sure you can clearly state the reason for any proposed change.

It is always wonderful to hear innovative ideas from people striving to improve things. However, you must keep in mind that improvement ideas are often offered about things that we have no control over, or areas we best keep untouched.

Don’t let yourself or your team get bogged down by the idea of trying to change something that you can’t, or shouldn’t. Make sure to have a solid understanding of what parts of your business have the flexibility to change, and which areas need to remain as they are. 

Many of us have fielded requests for changes that don’t necessarily serve an organization’s best interests. Mainstay has made it a habit of implementing internal decisions based on practical experience rather than outsider suggestions, and those experience-based changes almost always result in direct benefits for our customers.

When you make changes based on data, you will be better able to predict what results will follow and can be more confident that your change will be a positive one. Remember that making changes based on nothing but opinion or a whim will have unmeasurable results. 

There is another point to make here from our experience; Years ago, we implemented an operational change that made sense internally.  Following that change, we experienced a drop in revenue.  It wasn’t significant, but we noticed the drop.  When we decided to make the change, we didn’t stop to consider how that change would affect our existing relationships.

After we understood the drop in revenue, we restored the original operation and the revenue returned.  In our case, we didn’t realize we were serving a relationship group in a way they enjoyed.  The changed operation was a benefit to our existing relationships that we didn’t understand differentiated us from our competition.

Now, we always consider any adverse effect an internal change may have on an external relationship.

Often, it is very challenging to get everyone to agree that a change is necessary.  This is an important step in the process. If an organization is working to implement a change that does not have majority support behind it, it is time to slow the process and work to explain the reasoning for this change until a majority agreement is reached.

It’s possible that the change is a bad idea, and a round of discussion could be what brings this realization to light. Whether the idea ultimately is good or bad, uniting your group behind the end decision will make your team more cohesive and able to work together.    

On the other hand, a team leader may have a reason to make a change, but it’s possible that the rest of the team simply doesn’t understand the vision. In cases like this, the leader must slow down and invest the time it takes to explain all the details and work collaboratively with the rest of the team.

If your team fully understands your vision and can agree on the desired end result, everyone will be able to work smoothly towards the same goal with much less confusion. That time invested in providing a clear explanation will pay dividends in the long run.

Some changes are too big to implement right away. It’s important to recognize when this is the case and to get moving with small steps rather than jumping in immediately. If a project is so big that it’s intimidating, your team may be afraid of getting started.

To avoid this phenomenon, sit down with them and explain each phase of your large-scale change. When they understand how each piece of the puzzle fits together, your team will be able to look forward to the final result while moving forward at a manageable pace for everyone. 

Mainstay has made changes that have taken more than a year to accomplish. 

Sometimes, even an internal change can take that long. In such cases, we must carefully lay down the plan in meaningful steps. We must set concrete goals and identify mini-completions and qualifiers before taking on the next project.  

Along the way, we may discover something totally new, something we’d previously overlooked completely. By keeping your mind open and moving forward at a slow, steady pace, you’ll be able to regularly reevaluate and adjust to any new developments. Your final goal will be even stronger and more comprehensive as a result.

Just remember: many unforeseen course changes can happen along the way.  You must remain flexible and open-minded in order to perceive change as a chance to improve, rather than as an obstacle. Expect roadblocks, and plan ahead to know when it’s time to detour. Be nimble and quick.  Don’t allow stasis to affect your business, and you’ll find that change can be a blessing.