How to change and what it takes to make it last

Do you remember your first time?

Maybe you felt it was bitter, maybe you spat it out, maybe you had a look of disgust anyone could read on your face.

Tasting coffee, people don’t often like it at first.

Many keep trying, and it can become what eventually gets you out of bed. You then make time for conversations with friends, relatives and co-workers. To enjoy a cup of coffee.

And some will never like coffee. And that’s also okay.

It’s very easy to expect a certain reaction when introducing something new to how you run things in your business.

Which can be a challenge. 

The good change

“A good change is easy to adopt. It quickly becomes second nature. And that’s how you can confirm it’s the right improvement.”

You might have heard something similar at work. And it sounds true, but is it?

What does your life experience tell you?

Eat healthier, exercise more often, lose weight, quit smoking, drink less. Or what else you might need to do, to counter your vice.

These are good changes, and in many cases the right ones. Are they easy to adopt and do they quickly become second nature?

Not really, to most. Meaning, it can certainly be very hard to do the right improvement and make it last. It costs. Time, money and energy. And you also need determination and sometimes support.

It’s like that in your business too, because you make changes that involves people. And it’s very easy to underestimate what it takes.

What it takes

In a company, a desired change can impact many. It can quickly get out of hand, if not managed well or at all.

When you have an improvement proposal it’s valuable to ask:

  • Which problem and gap will the change fix?
  • What are the consequences if you don’t change?
  • What is the actual or perceived value of a successful change?

It provides you with insights and helps you find early alignment. To determine if it’s worth pursuing. Since you might already have bigger fish to fry.

If you decide to move forward, do clarify what success look like and define the what, how, when, and whom. Get an understanding of what it takes.

Before embarking on the change journey, you want to have your stakeholders onboard. In sharing the determination and be willing to support. With patience to not judge after the first dance.

Best practices

To improve the chances of implementing your changes successfully:

Have
  • An executive sponsor
  • A dedicated team managing the change
To
  • Apply a structured approach
  • Engage people and encourage adoption
  • Communicate frequently

And try to avoid letting this work become just another task, that you squeeze into people’s ordinary work schedules. By assuming it will fit.

Make it last

You might have videos, documentation, coaches and how-to-guides teaching people all the new moves. You will still not get a perfect tango on the first try. And some will not be pleased or excited to try learning in the first place.

Now determination, patience and support come in handy. To follow through and continue in face of adversity, by being aware that things take time to settle in.

Neither believe that everyone will like a change in the end. Have realistic expectations. And objectively assess it by what you set out to achieve.

You only get 99.9% vote participation with 100% approval ratings, if you go North Korean style. And then you have much bigger problems in your hands in the first place. As in figuring out how to calibrate the metal detectors, when Dennis Rodman visits.

The agile change traps

If you too rapidly change again what has not taken root yet, you risk ending up in a cycle causing change fatigue.

Where you continuously can misinterpret outcomes by assessing changes in motion, since what you’ll mostly see are the symptoms of change in general. From confusion, uncertainty and frustration.    

Some studies say change at the workplace is the number one reason, to stress out your employees the most.

Mitigate this by focusing on the improvements that truly are meaningful and bring the most value. At a sustainable pace. By understanding what it takes, then prioritize to manage it well, to make it last.

In closing

Expect a change to organization, structure or process to cause initial confusion.

Some will have questions and others will not like it in the end. Even if a change has been managed to near perfection.

And that’s okay, you have individuals in your teams with different character traits, perspectives and opinions.

Still want to make the improvements that counts?

Yes? Great! Invest in managing them well, and give the time they need to take root, bloom and give tasty fruit.

Yours sincerely,
Magnus Isaksson ( magnus@metrictale.com )