Competitive Advantage: Including our People in the Process of Change
by Andrew Reid
We give ourselves a competitive advantage when we include our people in the process of change. Over the “interesting” past year I’ve worked with bankers, manufacturing operators, business owners, athletes, directors, and everyone in between. Common to all is the need to be included in the process of change.
Most of us have a negative stress response to change when that change comes from an outside source; usually as a surprise. On the other hand, if we instigate the change ourselves, we might experience a positive stress response; where we are focused and driven. If you agree with this simple concept, perhaps there is a change management approach to come from it. Here are some best practice strategies:
1. Invite your people to participate in change even if the process is difficult. Your teams will have resources and capabilities if you engage them in contribution.
2. Changing markets make it easier to compete. Yes I said that. It’s easy to compete in a volatile market because few are good at it. Your competitors, unable to cope with change, turn inward and leave customers looking for love. So go say hi!
3. Don’t buy or sell fluff. People want substance and solid direction in creating new opportunities. Show them how and facilitate fresh thinking approaches that synchronize with the new market.
4. Most of the richest people in the world got that way during volatile markets. Every business culture can benefit from that kind of story.
5. Notice where you and your people run out of tools; and I’m not talking about technology. Humans are wired for relationship, connection, and community. Business relationships are dependent on effective communication. Give your people the training to take their conversations, negotiations, agreements, and listening skills to the next level and watch their confidence soar as they contribute to positive change.
6. Tone set a culture of positive, constructive change by focusing on the other side of the goal; what it’s like living on the other side of the finish line. People can step into super success when they can see themselves in the future successful story. If they can’t picture what will be different, they may fear the unknown…which is a natural response by the way. Support stories of new possibilities and where skills can be put to great use.
7. People make stuff up; good or bad. Missing information opens the door to gossip and fear-based stories. Because we are wired for connection, people can connect through gossip or through innovative ideas; it’s a matter of what influences their focus.
We give ourselves a competitive edge by providing useful information that optimizes focus, energy, and solution-based conversation. If your ship is going to be at sea for a while with no clear port, tell them that. Then get your teams focused on how they can be resourceful and competitive regardless of the environment.
We can only change what we can control or influence. As we become better at influencing situations around us, we give ourselves more choices for change. Give your people the tools and let your them build the strategy to the future.