We are in an era of constant change—in globalization, culture, politics, business, technology, community, and in our personal lives. And it can be said that we’re living in a sort of chaos and an uncertainty that fosters fear and anxiety. It seems to exhausting and stressful just to manage our days. And many of us resist change because we like the comfort of the status quo. But our reality is shaping a new path that we must journey down, a path that doesn’t support the ordinary—and we don’t have a choice if we want to be successful. We must adapt.
So how do we survive as leaders in turmoil and rapid change? I would like to suggest that we look at change in a much different way—as empowering and energizing, with the great opportunity to create a corporate- and self-transformation.
There is an assumption that as leaders we take too long to act during change, we move into crisis mode, we focus on the short term, and we take a “one-off” approach. But these actions, in many cases, will fail to produce success. But those assumptions can be and need to be reformed.
I recently watched a presentation by Jim Hemerling, who suggests that in time of change, we put our people first. What if we could imagine a workplace where people, not profits, drove the business? Hemerling, during a fantastic 20-minute presentation, lays out a blueprint for putting people first in an effort to build a new path to success.
But how to we make this happen? He suggests 5 simple ways to embrace change to approach business in a much different way.
- Inspire through purpose. Peers and staff need to be presented with a vision and a mission in order to feel a sense of purpose. They need to clearly understand their role and how they will personally benefit the company. This requires leaders to connect on a much deeper level. A person is no longer a number, they are respected members of a team, a team that together strives for the extraordinary.
- Go all in. Changing your work environment isn’t about layoffs or head cutting. It’s about really diving in to give your people a chance— to empower them to embrace something different. But when making your business about your people you really have to focus on that mission and persevere through the ups and down of evolution.
- Develop capabilities. Your peers and staff need the right tools to make the change. And they need to be given the opportunity to do their jobs differently. Sometimes it requires a new framework and way of thinking to execute the vision. For example, modify the business culture from building products to building service. Seamless and excellent customer service builds your brand in significant ways and paves the way to enfranchise your customers.
- Build a culture of continuous learning. This type of change won’t just materialize over night. Your staff needs to be constantly reminded and trained to operate in this new environment. The idea of internal competition must be removed to build people up. And the notion of fixed mindsets must be framed as a growth mindset.
- Set the vision, road map for the future, and define milestones. Think about it this way, when you launched your brand, you did all of these things to build a customer base. The same needs to be done internally to establish or re-establish your brand. This will pull your people in so that they have a better understanding of the new way of doing business and will ensure that the mission is executed from the top down. Engage people, encourage positive debate, make it safe to ask questions, give staff the opportunity to bring ideas to the table, and finally listen to your people and give them credit for their accomplishments.
Put people first and change will follow.