You may have the best strategy in place to get your company back into the market and increase the share price, but even the best strategy is a commodity unless you effectively implement it. Many big companies over a period of time get entangled in a web they themselves spun and this is when their CEO decides on renewing the company vision and along with the board of directors dream of all the successes they will have. But most of the companies fail in at least one if not many steps during executing the vision, because they forget that they are trying to steer an old mammoth(their old and big company) and the mammoth sometimes doesn’t like to be steered as it’s happy walking they way it always has.
Failure to change is failure in process not person.
At times like these the method of executing the change is pivotal.
1. Your employees need to believe that the change is important and needed very soon
Missing to establish a Sense of Urgency, is the biggest mistake you can make when trying to implement a change. Its because employees and managers, believe the current course is still viable. Sometimes executives underestimate how hard it can be to drive people out of their comfort zones. As the CEO you need to make it clear, as to how much this change is needed, or how it can change the organization.
You with the senior management and other executives, must frankly discuss the unpleasant facts such as reducing margins, drop in market share, flattened revenue growth, new competition and other relevant indices. This will instil the importance and urgency of the change, and this has to be spread to every employee in your company.
2. Build a strong group that will help you implement change
Individuals alone have a hard time implementing change in a big company and a group with no power will not be able to make a change. The key is for an individual or group is to get in touch with other groups of individuals who have real power.
Change, by definition, requires creating a new system, which in turn always demands leadership. So know who are the leaders in your company, and who are the followers. The group much have leaders especially those having enough power to make the change happen. You can form one or more groups, but as the CEO you should ensure the group(s) works together as an effective team.
Failing at this would indicate that you underestimated the challenges of producing change and the vitallity of a powerful guiding coalition
3. Promote a positive future
Common, positive visions give organizations a direction, hence you need to create one, emphasizing on where the change will take the company. For doing this you can create a compelling story, and this story must have positives and negatives. The structure of this story can entail your path from Discovery -> Dreaming -> Designing -> Potential Failures -> Destiny. In this you can include the opportunities, change will bring and the hopeful future being created for the employees, company, society and customers. Also add in the plan for getting to the destination you have talked about.
Make sure your vision can be communicated to someone in less than 5 minutes, and this must get a reaction that indicates their understanding and interest. If you can do so , then all your managers and employees can share this undiluted message to others and get the same reaction.
Groups bond together when reaching for common goals, but without this positive vision, individuals can get caught up in any number of projects that have no similar purpose.
4. Talk more about the new vision
You can’t do the following, no matter how great your vision is and how well you have executed the above topics:
- Have a single meeting or send out a single communication, about this vision.
- Senior managers in the many speeches given to the employee, focus on their department’s quarter results and not the company’s new vision.
- Spend a lot of effort in newsletters and speeches, but senior executives still behave in ways antithetical to the new vision.
Major change requires the commitment and sacrifice of individuals within the organization. If the above is not handled correctly, then even employees and executives, who dislike the current situation will not believe the change is important.
Use every resource possible to always discuss the new vision and plans, you can run mini marketing campaigns within your company for increasing awareness and reinforcing your commitment for this vision.
Communication is words and actions, and the latter is most powerful form. The power group (mentioned above in #2) should act as role models for the behaviours of followers.
5. Confront road blocks that stand in your way
When trying to implement change you will face resistance from some few senior executives, failing to confront them and finding a fix will weaken the organization and slow or even stop the change process. The senior executive may be resisting because of various reasons, they may not believe the change is required or may feel threatened by the change or feel they can’t cope up with the new requirements. And CEO avoids confrontation with the senior executive, maybe because he may have never faced such issues in the past or is concerned that the company will lose the senior executive.
Change in company vision will almost always result change in company and structure. As CEO you have to take the hard decisions others are not willing to take, you and your team, must work hard to get rid of obstacles and change the system that block change.
You must encourage the power group and their followers, to take logical risks, think out of the box, use non-traditional ideas and actions to confront and handle the road blocks.
6. Create small steps and Celebrate small wins
Change is a long term process, it is not something that is achieved in one or two months or even years. Hence create small steps where people can feel successful throughout the process, and keep their motivation up for a longer time. These small steps can be something that group members can decide on and work towards, hence they can feel they are making progress. As CEO you must facilitate creating these short term successes or risk losing the team’s commitment because they haven’t seen good results.
Also, reward the people who achieve the goals/small steps or have contributed for the same. Unexpected rewards have a positive disproportionate impact on employee satisfaction.
Managers may complain that they are being forced to produce short-term wins, but remember pressure is a very useful element in change. If the managers feel that change will take a long time, then the sense of urgency will be lost. Hence, need for short-term wins will keep the urgency factor in check and may also lead to clarification or revision of the vision.
7. Make sure that the change becomes a part of the daily routine in your company
Change is a long process and is considered successful when it is part of the daily routine of the company. Telling the team you have completed the change when you first see success may be too soon. Saying you’re done too soon risks not making the change part of the routine, and therefore not sticking hence failure to change.
New behaviours brought about by the change are open to rejection until they are firmly rooted in the daily routine of your employees. You can do the following:
- Change all of the policies that no longer fit the new vision and adapt incentive schemes to match the vision.
- Hire and promote individuals with the talents to make the change real
As CEO you must show how change has been positive and new people too must willingly embrace the change.
Though I have written all the points focusing on a big company and CEO, these points are very valid in any team for which you are leader or manager. Every team like a company has history and baggage, hence visionary leaders like yourself can follow these points to implement any major change in your team.
Reference: Leading Change by John Kotter; The psychology of change management by Colin Price and Emily Lawson