By Karen Dunne-Squire, Elation Experts
Making the great ideas in your business a reality involves taking everybody concerned on a journey of change.
Every business I’ve ever worked with has, at some point, had a brilliant idea that has not got traction within their organisation. In fact, every business is full of amazing ideas, but the barrier is making those ideas real. We’ve all seen it happen:
- A fantastic marketing initiative is innovated but never actually implemented effectively
- A really great piece of technology is purchased but is never really truly embedded in the business
- A piece of recruitment is done but the individual never truly thrives.
There are a number of really significant business decisions that, if implemented well, will bring meaningful growth to the organisation. So, what’s getting in the way?
At Elation we bring change, like any successful growth business, all of our projects begin with coming up with great ideas. But, what I have learned over the last 12 years is that embedding these great ideas is the largest part of the challenge.
There are five key tips that every business can embrace that will ensure that those brilliant ideas, that you know will solve the big problems in your business, become a reality.
- Plan your change collaboratively
Too often in business, change is devised by a group of senior influencers who are looking for a quick fix to a business problem. Rarely do they consult with those who will actually drive the change. In businesses that successfully implement new ideas there is always a period of consultation with those involved in the change.
Collaborating with the teams who will be required to drive the new behaviour in the business will bring several benefits:
- You will get early stage buy in to the idea
- You will ensure that diverse ideas are brought to the table
- You will ensure any weaknesses in your plans are challenged at an early stage.
Action: Pull together a group of key influencers in your business and create a workshop to begin to plot out the change. Start with the key objective in mind and ask for insights about ways to address business needs. Plot out change in a collaborative way to ensure that you are embedding effective change.
- Communicate change well
When a new idea is presented to an individual or group the first phase of embracing the idea is the exploration phase.
In order to take on a new practice or process or embrace a new way of working, your team will first seek to understand. Therefore, the quality of your communication has a massive impact on how effective this exploration phase is.
If, when your team is evaluating the effectiveness of the new idea, they have a negative evaluation you are guaranteed to receive resistance.
Collaborating on the decision-making will allow you to root out any fundamental issues with the details of your plan. Then it’s about the way that you communicate to ensure full understanding of the expectations.
Human beings need to understand that what’s being asked of them has a solid foundation in logic and will bring them some personal benefit.
By communicating your idea effectively, helping them understand the thinking and logic behind it, and showing them the direct benefits they will experience, will help them to evaluate the idea positively and this will reduce the resistance to change.
Action: When you have agreed on the specifics of what you need to change in the organisation, create a clear communication plan that includes the why as well as the what. Be clear about exactly what you are asking your team to do, and what this will look like and ensure you share the information with the right people at the right time.
- Devise solid change plans
All too often businesses share their ideas for change with the team and expect them to go away and immediately and proactively change their behaviours in line with the new expectations. Expecting complete and immediate uptake from the team is a recipe for failure.
In order for a group of human beings to embrace new ways of working there needs to be absolute clarity on the expectations. Working with your team to help them understand what they need to do differently in order to implement the new ideas is a fundamental part of change management.
Action: Organise a series of group and individual sessions that break down the impact of the change on everybody’s individual roles. Ensure you can set clear expectations – for them and for you. Making sure your team is given guidance around what is expected is a really important step in your change programme. If an individual has a well-shaped change plan that outlines what they need to do differently, they will be more empowered to embed your change effectively.
- Assess the impact of the change
One of the most common issues when embedding great ideas into an organisation, is the ability to evaluate what impact the change has had. Too often business leaders are instinctively aware they aren’t seeing their ideas brought to life, but they have no tangible measures around this.
When you are devising the plan around your new idea, build into it your assessment and evaluation measures. Place these at regular intervals from the date of the change you need to be tracking and measuring to see if the change is being delivered in the business. Without tangible tracking of the process and outcomes, it is impossible to know for sure whether the change is having real and positive influence on your business.
Agreeing with your team the ways in which you will evaluate the effectiveness of the change is key to driving real improvements.
Action: Once you’ve agreed precisely what form the change will take you must agree what will be evaluated and how. Review each stage in the change programme and consider how you would measure whether that change is happening in your business. Then ensure this is communicated clearly so everyone is clear on how change will be assessed.
- Create a culture of feedback
When you ask the people within your business to embrace new behaviours to take on new practices and implement new ideas, it is absolutely fundamental that you create a culture of accountability.
If you have a clear plan for change for every individual and expectations are set effectively, then you have a method of assessment to understand whether each individual is playing their part.
You also need a clear structure for feedback to ensure you can guide people to success. Behavioural change is about recognising peoples’ successes and being confident in giving critique when they don’t deliver what’s required of them.
Making clear at the beginning of the change programme exactly what measures will be in place, and exactly when and how feedback will be given, will ensure that everybody understands the positive recognition they will receive if they effectively embed the idea and the consequences if they have challenges around changing their habits.
Action: Creating a clear cadence for review and feedback is key to checking the effectiveness of the change. You might choose to have regular 1-2-1 sessions with those embedding the change or group sessions to review the measures and discuss the success. Or a combination of both. But make sure you book in time to discuss the impact the change is having.
By following the five steps above, you will ensure that your brilliant ideas move from being just a plan to becoming daily practice in your business. Without a focused, collaborative, and structured approach to change, your efforts are bound to fail and you’re unlikely ever to deliver the constant improvement that your business needs for its growth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Dunne-Squire is founder of Elation Experts, which is on a mission to empower SME’s by giving them the knowledge and skills to increase revenue, build powerful sales opportunities and create committed, loyal teams that are motivated to drive change. Karen is a sought-after keynote speaker and creator of The Growth Framework, an award-winning methodology, applying ‘Big Business Corporate Insights’ to SMEs in a way that makes practical sense for them.