Today, transformation and change are part of a normal environment for any successful business. Companies around for the long-haul cannot rest on doing the same thing year after year. The challenge as a leader is how to keep your organization focused and inspire everyone to push toward new challenges.
To successfully lead transformation, it requires a very clear vision that the entire organization can relate to and understand. This will become a critical reference point as things get too complicated, long, or overwhelming.
There are two key drivers of any transformation. The strongest driver of change often comes from external forces, like how Facebook is repositioning the news industry. But beyond reacting to industry changes, successful companies must build a culture or corporate DNA that supports and encourages the need to continually transform. Constant change is exhausting and humans tend to look for a place of calm; a roadmap of clarity to understand what is next. In many transformation cases this is very difficult to provide. For leaders, the challenge of helping employees feel they are on track and progressing something positive can be daunting.
Whatever the impetus for your transformation, it is critical that leaders build actionable, clear steps for employees and customers to follow and understand and that those steps reinforce a clear vision.
In our work with transformation and change, here are the 3 steps that have brought success to our clients and their employees:
Keep it Simple
While transformation feels overwhelming, like most things, it requires clarity of the 3 major things you are working on in simple language. Keep it to 3, not 5, so that people can remember the goals and find ways to make them their own. Provide enough information on each of the 3 goals to ensure that the mission is understood, and that each employee can see themselves in that mission.
Make it Measurable
The worst experience for employees and clients is to feel they are on a change-journey with you and they never see tangible progress. Change takes enormous physical, emotional and intellectual energy, and creating goals that cannot be measured makes this even more draining. Not everything can be measured, but do your best to create a tangibility to the goals that allow you to see if you are on track. For example, one client took a goal of ‘simplifying the customer experience’ and made it much more concrete: simplify the customer’s contracting experience. This allowed them to define a length of contract, time-frames to signature, etc. that made it very measurable and tangible for the team to see their impact.
Driving change in behavior is difficult. Imagine going on a diet, changing your eating and exercise habits completely, and no one notices the changes you’ve made or your first ½ pound of weight loss? This is a challenge for companies that are pushing transformation agendas hard to get ahead. In the push to work harder, faster, more hours, no one stops to celebrate the small progress that may be made on a quarterly basis.
Find ways to celebrate progress – even small milestones to help your employees and your customers see the movement taking place. Even take the time to recognize challenges in progress. Often with change, we take 3 steps forward and 1 step back – it is important to acknowledge successes and challenges as a part of the journey to making change. Integrating customers into these celebrations can often bring tremendous value to employees as they see the impact not only through metrics, but through value brought to the customer.
As you look to move to the next stage on your change agenda, how are you ensuring that employees and customers are with you for the ride?