I was once of the opinion that the Holy Grail of business systems was in finding the ideal system. It was about creating a system that would always work without fail. In other words, I wanted something that foolproof.
But herein lies the problem. As a business grows, it tends to outgrow its systems. Take a startup, for example. The operational systems that turned it into a $500,000 company won’t necessarily work to turn it into a $1 million enterprise.
After perfecting that product or service, getting the right team members in place, and ushering those first few customers through the doors, most leaders turn their attention toward establishing business systems. These systems run the gamut, but often provide leadership solutions on how exactly to run the actual business, to deliver a consistent customer experience, and to facilitate business growth.
Because these systems usually originate at the beginning stages of a business, and eventually start to produce somewhat predictable results, they become entrenched in the culture. It’s just how we do things here — or at least that’s the general consensus.
So, the goal isn’t to create the perfect system. Instead, the goal should be to create the perfect system for change, and this often entails three separate steps:
- Accept that change is a constant. Recognize that change will always be a constant in a growing business. As a business grows, its needs will inevitably evolve and even mature, and you must find a way to deal with this change.
- Identify who will be impacted by this change. For most organizations, it isn’t the customer who’ll be most affected by change. It’s actually the employees, and it’ll affect each employee differently.
- Trust that downturns in profitability will be short-term. As your systems evolve to meet the new needs of a business, understand that you’ll see some changes in profitability for a short time. It costs money to gather research, secure resources, and implement new infrastructures.
Of course, you have some control over the first and third steps. It’s the second that’s difficult to regulate, and the real purpose for this article.
How do you create change without push-back from your employees?
We can all probably agree that most people enjoy consistency in the workplace. There’s a certain sense of comfort in knowing what to expect on any given day. And as things start to change, staff can start to feel a loss of control, leading to stress, fear, and uncertainty.
That’s why it’s so important to make employees part of the change process. When our company started “partnering” with staff as systems needed to change, we experience much less resistance. We also saw less turnover and higher morale — not to mention two unforeseen side effects.
First of all, leadership no longer felt the pressure to come up with all the ideas needed to create change. The employees would offer up solutions once given the parameters of the problem at hand.
Secondly, we started getting a tremendous amount of buy in from staff on how to create change. So much so that we actually started what we call idea pods, where a group of volunteers work through a particular problem or situation. They usually meet two or three times after work, and the ideas that we get back are priceless.
Growth is probably one of the most exciting stages in any business. But you need a system in place that embraces the inevitable change that soon follows. Without one, you can hardly expect to maintain that growth, let alone continue growing.