The first steps of change … starts from within

When you speak to people on whether they would like to see change in their organisation, chances are their responses will go something like this:

“Yes, change is necessary,”

“We must evolve with times.”

“It is about time.”

Most if not all people will agree that the only thing constant in this world is change.

Rarely will you get a response that vehemently states, “No, we should stay the way we are.” (Though admittedly there will always bound to be contrarians and traditionalists.)

Yet when you take the conversation to the next level as to what they would like to see changed, very often the tone will go along these lines of a recent discussion that I had with a sales team at one of our clients.

Q: “What would you like to see changed?”

A: “We need to be more competitive. We need to get an exclusive distribution agreement. Our competitors are winning because they have exclusive distribution agreements.”

Following up on that statement, we probed if the exclusive distribution agreement was truly the cause.

“Do you know if your competitors are offering cheaper prices?”

“Do the competitors have exclusive distribution agreements for all products?”

None of the members of the sales team could definitively answer the 2 questions posed.

Throughout the discussion, there were many hurdles highlighted but limited suggestions given, and where suggestions were given, rarely did it involved actions that were to be taken by the individuals themselves. Which brings us to uncovering another prevalent mindset in organisations: “Change is good … if it happens to someone else”.

Shifting this mindset within key individuals, in my opinion, is the first step to effecting change in any organization. What does this entail? First is awareness. Awareness for the need to change; and that change comes from within.

Beyond paying lip service, an leader will have to demonstrate a change not merely in tasks performed but habits to jumpstart change. For example, if the sales team does not actively track numbers, it is because that management does not require them to do so. So, if the sales teams needs to start actively monitoring sales against targets; the manager has to go beyond asking them to submit their numbers. The manager has to monitor, ask questions, and addresses issues that arises on the same frequency as the sales teams members are required to do so. This involves the manager adopting new habits; which is the first visible step to effecting change in any organisation.

The pertinent question now is: How can we guide managers in taking this step?

[More to come … in upcoming blog]