How to Deal with Organizational Change

Whether it’s a new sales process, revised PTO policy, different employee benefits plan, corporate restructure, or simply a new website, to the average employee it all means the same thing: Change.

And change scares the crap out of a lot of people.

Why so scary?

All change means is that the way you’re doing things today isn’t the way you’ll be doing them tomorrow. No big deal, right?

Wrong.

This simple idea can be terrifying to employees and leadership alike. And the longer your processes have been in place, the harder it will be to get everyone onboard. Even if your plan is going to make things infinitely better for everyone in the long run, you’ll still run into plenty of folks who just want things to stay exactly the same. “Free espresso all day? Bah! I prefer my daily 9:06 coffee break. Even if I have to walk three blocks and pay five dollars.”

So what should you do if change is in the air at your company? How can you get people to be more amenable and less cantankerous?

Evaluate it

Spend some time examining your current structure and what changes will need to be made to support the new model. The more detailed you are in this process, the better. Choose several key people to weigh in so that you get a full perspective of what the needs are in various departments and areas.  

Create an action plan and select individuals who are both knowledgeable and enthusiastic to be in charge of each step of the process, not just for accountability purposes but also to be goodwill ambassadors. If Grumpy Gary is in charge of training everyone on the new database, it might not go so well. Friendly Florence? Now that’s more like it.

Anticipate it

Recognize that people are going to react to change differently. Much differently. In fact, Friendly Flo could turn into an Angry Annie in an instant. You just never know. Be prepared to encounter any and all of the following:

  • Early adopters and change embracers who can’t wait to get started! These dynamos are planning out the details before you’ve even finished explaining the goal.
  • Naysayers who sincerely believe the whole plan is doomed. These guys are already dreading implementation and plotting the resistance.
  • Non-committal fence-sitters who are somewhere in the middle. These folks aren’t quite sure what to think and could go in either direction.

Communicate it

Now it’s time to get the word out. Don’t be stingy with the details of your plan. Explain the benefits of it and the reasons behind it. Clarify what things will change. Give time frames and set expectations to make things seem less intimidating. Talk about the end goal for when everything is said and done.

After you’ve laid it all out, you’ll be faced with a couple of choices for how to handle the reactions you’ve already anticipated.

1.) Spend your time trying to convert the naysayers and convince the fence-sitters

While attempting to win over the naysayers may seem like a logical plan, trying to convince someone who doesn’t want to change that change is a good idea can be a bit like trying to explain molecular biology to the average toddler. They just don’t get it. They don’t want to and they’re not going to try. And all the time you’ve spent trying to convince them that all of this is a good thing is time that you’re not moving ahead with your new plans.

2.) Spend your time recruiting the change agents and involving them in the process

If you decide to focus your attention on your supporters, you’ll be feeding their excitement, valuing their participation, and helping them help you. These folks can and should play a more active role in the implementation. And as an added bonus, they can help you get buy-in. You’ll start moving forward immediately, and they’ll be setting a great example for the fence-sitters, who are more likely to be influenced by their peers anyway.

Roll with it

As with any change, there is likely to be some fallout, regardless of how well you manage it.

There are some people who will flat-out refuse to adjust and would rather part ways than stay and go through the process. That’s okay. Let them go. Having people onboard who don’t support the company goals and vision will eventually bring everybody down.

Celebrate it

Once you’ve made it happen, reward your early adaptors, your hardworking implementers and your former fence-sitters for jumping on board. Review how far you’ve come and then have a little fun.

Throw a party. Order a cake. If you’re feeling crazy, give everyone the afternoon off. Why not? You’ve earned it.

 

Photo by lightwise

How to Get Stuff Done

How many to do lists do you have going? If you’re like most people, you probably have more than one. But be honest. Are these things actually getting done?

Setting goals and creating a list of the tasks necessary to achieve them are two critical steps toward productivity. But the best intentions don’t always yield the best results.

You’ve got to commit

Making goals and plans and lists feels great. Sometimes, it feels so great that you forget to follow through and actually make it happen. If your plan only involves yourself, you might be able to let it slide. So you didn’t read War and Peace. No big deal.

But if you’re a business leader, your plans probably involve lots of other people. Your plan and your tasks are all part of a much bigger system. And when you don’t come through, it’s a much bigger problem.

In this case, what you need some good old accountability. But not the old kind, where you get rapped on the knuckles when you do something wrong. If that worked, we’d all have nothing but sore fingers and checked off boxes. What you want to do is collaborate with other people who are working on the same plan, and find ways to support each other in getting things done.

Check in regularly

Weekly check-ins can be an extremely helpful tool for accomplishing this. Call it your weekly meet-up, your team check-in, or your accountability planning session. Whatever works! The key is to have a partner you work closely with such as a coworker, colleague, manager, supervisor, or leader, and get together to talk about the week’s activities and results.

Go over your must-do projects together on Monday so everyone is on the same page for the week. But you can’t just stop there. You will also want to talk about how you can support each other in achieving your goals, and then report your results to each other at the end of the week.

This may seem a bit intrusive and daunting at first, but the results are fantastic— and addictive. The amount of productive work that gets accomplished when you know you’re going to be supported during the week and held accountable at the end of the week is amazing. You can move so far so quickly when you are able to focus on the projects and activities that generate results, rather than just filing your day with unstructured tasks, to do lists, and busy work.

Accountability brings focus

Making lists is easy. Making progress is much harder. Implementing a quick, efficient, and standardized accountability system will help you do both.

When everyone knows exactly what they are supposed to be doing during the week, your team will be more efficient, more productive, and less stressed. Finishing one thing no longer requires stopping to figure out what comes next. All you have to do is work down the weekly list.

How should you maintain this list? There are many options. Adopt a system that works for you and your team. Whether it’s an old school notepad or planner, or a fancy project management platform doesn’t really matter, as long as it helps you accomplish your goals and track your results. At the end of the day, the best planning tool is the one you will use. Just make sure you it’s a reliable method so your planning is easy and consistent.

The real value doesn’t lie in the sophistication of the document or the tracking system, but in taking the time to think about your business, and what critical tasks need to be completed by the end of each week to keep you moving forward toward your goals.

 

Photo by langstrup 

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Want to Build Confidence? Adopt a Client First Perspective.

Confidence. It seems to be lacking these days. We don’t have confidence in our organizations, our government, or even in the truth. It’s no wonder consumer confidence is down as well.

In this kind of environment, it can be easy to simply lie down and accept defeat, to throw up our arms and excuse ourselves from lagging sales and negative growth. 

It’s also easy to opt out of aggressive business plans that might turn these things around.

And because so many of your competitors will choose to do just that, this is exactly the right time to take control and build confidence. Yes, there are many factors beyond your control, but all that means is that it’s more important than ever to take control where possible. Specifically, to take control over those factors that should be a source of confidence. 

There is nothing more important to your personal or organizational success than confidence. Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by all of the potential sources, or all of the potential things that are working against you. Instead, focus on a few critical areas that will provide the greatest return.

1. A client focused sales approach

To be successful, you have to believe in the product, service, or model you’re offering. It’s also just as important to have confidence in your sales process. To build consumer confidence and trust, your sales process MUST be client focused. It must also be replicable and provide value.

Quit thinking about what you have to sell, and start focusing on what your prospects need and want to buy.

Start by identifying where your customers have needs, opportunities, and pain points you can help with. To be truly client focused, you will need to have a thoughtful sales process that listens more than it speaks. By asking the right questions and listening to the answers, you will be able to give your consumers a fresh/new/clear understanding of their own needs, as well as the perfect solution.

2. A commitment to providing value 

Doing more with less: It’s the reality of the business world we live and compete in. If you thought that getting someone to give you their time, money, or loyalty was difficult in the past, you’re likely well aware that these challenges have become exponentially more difficult.

The thing is, it should be a challenge. We should all be protective of our time and resources. As a business, you should have to earn the opportunity to be the product, service, or partner of choice. This means being able to articulate and show the potential value you can bring if you do business together, as well as providing value to a potential customer during their buying journey, even if they choose not to work with you at the end.

This may be the biggest challenge yet, because you have to provide value without giving too much away.

Ask yourself: Are the prospects who never became clients better off after interacting with your company and your brand? Did they get value from what they saw, heard, or learned? If you can’t confidently answer this with a resounding yes, then I challenge you to re-evaluate your sales processes. If the process is client-focused, they will leave the interaction with positive feelings. Perhaps you provided some helpful information, a new idea, or a great collaboration. Perhaps you simply gave them a smile.

But maybe, just maybe, you also gave them a little bit more confidence. In themselves. In your organization. And in what you have to offer.

When you operate from a client-focused point of view, you’re not just helping people solve their problems. You’re building consumer confidence in your business and your brand. Which, in turn, will help increase your confidence as well.

Now that’s what you call a win-win.

 

Photo by xtock

Does Your Company Need a Social Media Policy?

Well, that depends. Are you an organization of one? Then you might be okay. As long as you don’t accidentally sleep-tweet.

For everyone else, the answer is yes.

Even if you think you have the best employees, who would never post anything inappropriate, confidential, or offensive— you still need to have a policy in place. Not only will this help set the ground rules for social media use at work, it will also spell out the consequences for if – or more likely when – things go awry.

Still not convinced?

It’s understandable. You’ve built a great culture and hired fantastic employees who share the same core values. Things are going super smoothly. You’re not worried at all.

Until you are.

All it takes is one post, from one person, on or off the clock, and you’ve got yourself a situation.

They don’t call it going viral for nothing. Social media moves at the speed of light, and social media scandals move even faster. People will seize on a controversial post or idea immediately. They won’t wait to react. They won’t adhere to your time zone or schedule. You could go to sleep one night worry-free and wake up to a serious problem.

In this scenario, your reaction time needs to be equally swift. But that’s hard to do if you don’t have a framework for how these situations will be handled. And the last thing you want to hear from an employee after the fact is, “I didn’t know!”

Avoid the confusion

Putting out fires as they happen is exhausting. Why not take a lesson from Smokey the Bear and try to prevent them instead? Or at least put an emergency action plan in place for when the flames come rolling through?

A comprehensive social media policy will help you effectively deal with issues when they arise. It will also let your employees know what your expectations are and what happens if they don’t follow them.

Here are some key things to include when putting your plan together:

Social media use at the workplace

  • On company accounts
  • On company devices
  • On company time

Social media use on personal accounts

  • Sharing confidential information about your company, coworkers, and/or clients
  • Inflammatory comments and/or hate speech
  • Harmful, negative or damaging comments about your job, colleagues, and company
  • Personal blogging about workplace issues

Inappropriate usage

  • Using photos or video without consent
  • Harassment or bullying
  • Confidentiality breaches
  • Discrimination

But what about networking?

Ah, yes. Social networking. Often, this is a significant part of our career lives. Many employers encourage and expect participation on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others, which brings up additional questions that need to be addressed.

  • Who can friend who? Is it appropriate for HR to connect with employees? Should supervisors be friends with reports?
  • Can managers make professional recommendations for their current reports? Could these recommendations be used against your company if an employee is subsequently terminated?
  • What kinds of photos and videos are appropriate for posting? Do you require consent before sharing?

You may think privacy is dead, but here’s a little something to consider: I once met a woman who declined being in a “fun” workplace photo for Facebook because she had escaped from an abusive relationship in the past. Her former partner didn’t know where she was and she was terrified at the prospect of being found. Now, just imagine if I had snapped that photo and posted it without a second thought. A small thing to me, a big thing to her.

And that, my friends, is the point.

Something that could seem harmless, clever, or hilarious to one person can often be harmful, offensive, or downright devastating to another.

Any organization that wants to win the hearts of consumers, clients, staff, vendors, and advertisers needs to recognize the critical importance of what is being said and done online.

If you don’t have a social media policy in place, now is the time to create one. If you do have a social media policy in place, you’ll want to revisit it annually to see if it’s still relevant to your current organizational structure, processes, and online activities. 

Make sure your policy aligns with your company code of ethics to paint a clear picture of how your core values guide organizational actions and behaviors, then spell out what behaviors are appropriate and what behaviors are prohibited. Include detailed information about the consequences of not following protocol, and have someone go over this policy with each new employee during the onboarding process.

It’s a work in progress

Never assume that simply having a policy in place will protect you from social media blowups. Also never assume that your employees will instinctively know how and what to post based on the set of rules you’ve put together.

Lead by example and teach your employees how to use social media effectively. Host social media clinics and LinkedIn lessons. Assign media mentors and have people work in teams. Consider putting a vetting process in place for what goes out on company pages, and always follow the gut-check rule: If a potential post causes you to hesitate for any reason, listen to your intuition and hit delete.

You’ll never lose sleep over that bad post that didn’t go out. But you can lose a lot more that that over the one that does.

 

Photo by Ion Chiosea 

You’ve found the perfect candidate! Now what?

It’s not always easy to move from a great candidate to a great offer. And in a tight talent market, it can be even more difficult. 

You need to make your coveted candidate an ideal offer. One that’s going to make them as excited to say those three little words as you are to hear them.

“I’ll take it!”

Gone are the days of expecting an immediate yes, with no problems and no negotiations. Employers, hiring managers, and human resources teams are realizing that making an offer is a nuanced process that needs to take both parties into account. Job seekers have more leverage than ever, and employers will need to adjust their expectations and processes accordingly.

Speed up to slow down

Because quality candidates are likely to have multiple leads, they may not be willing to wait very long for an interview or an offer. Moving high priority candidates through the process quickly can be the difference between being successful and being ghosted.

If your current talent search procedure involves multiple interviews, hiring committee meetings, and approval processes, now is the time to evaluate the necessity of each component. Get rid of any extraneous requirements, then find ways to streamline the critical pieces so your progress doesn’t get stalled and your candidates don’t get frustrated.

You may also need to adjust your strategy and timelines regarding the acceptance of an offer. Today’s job seekers may need more time to fully evaluate their options and commit to a decision. This might sound like a double standard, but it’s important to remember that hiring isn’t just about what’s right for the hiring manger or the organization. For your candidate, it’s all about making sure you’re the best fit for them. If the answer is no, it’s in everyone’s best interest to have that person move on. If the answer is yes, the extra day or two will be well worth the wait.

Flexibility is the new “Sign here.”

Hiring contracts have always been negotiable, but whether or not job seekers decide to do so depends largely on the market. When job demand is high and positions are few, candidates are much more willing to accept an offers as is. Likewise, when jobs are readily available and applicants are few and far between, employers should expect negotiations and counter-offers.

Once again, it’s time to take a look at your processes. Are you offering fair compensation, generous paid time off, and attractive employee benefits? If so, are you including these things in your job postings? Your future employees aren’t just making major career decisions. They are making major financial decisions as well. And in order to do that, they’ve got to have adequate salary information. Don’t let people get all the way through the process only to find out they can’t accept the job. It’s a waste of their time and yours.

Be honest about what you’re offering. If, for whatever reason, you really don’t have any wiggle room in your offers, be upfront about that from the start. If you neglect to make that clear to your candidates during the search and interview process, you could easily get burned when it comes time to hire.

Don’t take it personally

Candidates who negotiate during the offer phase aren’t doing it to be difficult or to offend you. It’s all part of the decision making process. Being flexible on some of these things could give you a huge hiring advantage.

Keep in mind that negotiating with a potential new hire can be an easy way to create a happy, engaged, loyal employee. And in many cases, it’s not just about cash. Every applicant comes from a unique situation and has a unique set of personal and professional goals. Here are some common issues your future employees may be wrestling with:

  • Student loans
  • Stagnant salary
  • Long commutes
  • Inflexible schedules
  • Affordable childcare
  • Lack of paid time off
  • Toxic boss or culture
  • Non-existent career paths
  • Limited professional development
  • Inadequate health, vision, and dental coverage

If you can make life easier in any of these areas, it just might tip the scales in your favor.

Sealing the deal

To make the negotiation process go smoothly, you’ll want to consider a few key things before going in:

  • What is the full salary range for the position, and where do new hires fall within it?
  • What is the top dollar amount you can realistically offer without offending your current staff members?
  • Are there additional ways to compensate employees that don’t involve increasing wages?
  • Do you have other qualified candidates in line for the position?

Never assume you know what your candidate wants from an offer. It could be an unrealistic expectation, but it could also be a very simple and reasonable request.

If your hiring process is transparent and designed to filter for cultural fit, it will likely weed out any unrealistic expectation candidates— and you’ll be left with a talent pool that’s worth investing in.

 

Photo by tomertu

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