Are you totally happy with the way your business is being run? Is it generating the revenue you would like it to? If so, don’t bother to read this article. If, however, you believe things could be better, then read on.
If you recognize any of the following events or symptoms, then you have a need to change your company:
• shrinking profit margins
• people having to work 24/7• lack of communication and information resulting in “the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing”
• recurring crises
• IT systems that don’t provide management with sufficient information or cause excessive downtime
• missed deadlines
• customer dissatisfaction
• a duplication of effort or, its opposite, a gap in procedures
• unclear goals and objectives
• low morale and lack of motivation
Many business owners have tried to change their companies and have given up in frustration. Others simply aren’t sure how to go about it. In order to bring about long-lasting and meaningful organizational change, it is necessary to:
• develop a vision and articulate the need for change
• understand the current corporate culture
• develop a plan for implementation
• motivate staff and create ownership
• overcome resistance
• maintain a sense of urgency
CREATING A VISION AND ARTICULATING THE NEED FOR CHANGE
A vision is the first step in creating change. It is the responsibility of leaders to formulate the vision and of managers to plan and implement the vision. Both must work together if change is to occur. Although this may seem obvious, many have failed by breaking this rule.
Articulating a vision is not always as easy as it may sound, and stating that “I want to increase my revenue” doesn’t cut it. A vision is a succinct statement of where one wants to take a company. It can be expressed in either qualitative or quantitative terms, but it must be desirable, feasible, focused, and flexible enough to allow for changing conditions. Ideally, it will also be inspirational and motivating.
Examples of a corporate vision include:
• becoming the best company of your type
• developing a product that is responsive to new market demand
• expanding into new territory
• developing a new market for a current product
• diversifying your product line
• developing total customer satisfaction, thereby increasing sales
The vision must also be communicated in a manner that is clear, concise, and compelling. If it is too detailed, or confusing, it is doomed to failure. It must be delivered by someone who has leadership qualities and the clout to make it happen. If size permits, a meeting with all employees is ideal. Alternatively, a meeting with each department face-to-face will do. And if this is not possible, a personal email message or memo to all employees will suffice.
UNDERSTANDING THE CURRENT ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE
To some people, this part of the change process causes them to think touchy-feely, and they dismiss it as an unnecessary exercise. In fact, it is one of the most important steps in implementing meaningful change. All corporations and organizations have a culture, whether the business is small or large. Unless one understands that culture, change will be impossible.
Culture refers to the communal values, the shared norms of behavior, the common goals of an organization, and the ways in which they evidence themselves. When trying to understand your organization’s culture, ask, and answer, the following question:
• Does everyone understand what the vision is?
• Is the organization aggressive or complacent in achieving its goals?
• Do all decisions “come from the top,” or are people empowered to accomplish tasks?
• Is the organization micro-managed?
• To what extent do collaboration, cooperation, and competition exist?
• Are workers motivated and satisfied, or do they harbor real and/or imagined resentments? What are they and why do they exist?
• Does everyone, throughout the entire organization, see the need for change? If so, what kinds of change and at what pace are they willing to develop, implement, and maintain those changes?
• Has the organization been run in the same way for a long period of time?
• What are the strengths and weaknesses of the entire organization and of their staffs, and what motivates each individual?
• How does management function within the culture?
As a consultant, his clients have included both large and small companies, including: Philip Morris International, the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Ernst & Young; LSR Financial Services; J.G. Wentworth Financial Co.; the International Group, Inc., and the Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG). He can be reached at Cecchicg@aol.com.