For many people, change is a bad word. However, if you run an organization, it is unavoidable. It is all too easy for organizations to get stuck in a rut. Relying on their success in the past and doing the same things over and over because they feel “it works”. The question you have to ask is – will this philosophy get you where your organization should be? It is hard to imagine a vision that does not require change in some way.
Not too long ago Welch LLP rebranded itself. During this process, it became clear that we had not really compared ourselves to others in our industry. Furthermore, one could say that we had not set out strategically to be who we wanted to be. In reality, we had been doing much of the same thing year in and year out. If we were to accomplish our vision, we knew we had to change. For us, change began with our leadership and setting out a five year strategic plan. While long term plans may not work in every industry, it was the right timeframe based on what we wanted to accomplish.
From our experience, the first step in the change process is to set audacious goals. We needed to determine how we wanted to look in five years and set the necessary goals to accomplish that. Often people tell you to set small achievable goals. We like to set stretch goals and go after them; in this case even if you only achieve 80% of that goal, you will likely have come much further than your small achievable goals may have got you. You can still break down your stretch goals into small steps which you undertake day by day to achieve the ultimate goal. Having an audacious goal in place is also a great way to ignite excitement in your team.
The best thing you can do to bring about change is to educate your employees with the related benefits associated with the change. This is the first step to getting them on board. It is human nature to avoid change. We often become comfortable with the way that we do things. As the saying goes “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. People often carry on their daily activities in a routine fashion. It is important for the leaders, to get them out of the routine and to embrace the new methods. It is essential to constantly encourage your team members to take risks and impart the actions necessary to reach the goals across the whole organization.
It’s easy to stay with the status quo. There must be constant education and reminders of the benefits of the new ways. Taking risks is scary but it is often the key to reaching your goals. Track your successes but also your failures because you learn from your mistakes. A good leader knows when to push the activities related to the change and when to take his/her foot off the pedal.
Overall, it is important to have a strategy that is in line with your vision of the future of your entity. This vision cannot be so steadfast that you don’t have the flexibility to respond to market shifts quickly. Depending on your industry, it might make more sense for you to have a shorter strategic plan, not a five year plan.
In the final analysis, the most important thing is to get everyone on board with education, and to keep everyone from reverting to the old ways. This can be accomplished with constant updating and reaffirmation of the new plan and the new ways of doing things.
Stay tuned for the next blog in our Change Management series about the culture of your organization and how you can shift to an entrepreneurial mindset.
Micheal Burch – CPA, CA Managing Partner, Welch LLP
Peter Evans -Founder & CEO , Expertfile