- Big ambition is best articulated in simple human language, not business school jargon
- Sometimes what you are feeling is that gap between how you would like things to be and how they are.
As a business owner or leader, you may feel that there are aspects of your organizational culture you would like to change. Note the use of the verb ‘feel’ there.
The need for change is something you perceive emotionally before you rationalise it.
You walk into the despatch department or onto the trading floor and you can feel that something is not quite right.
The way staff is talking, the energy level in the room, the fact that heads are down and avoiding your gaze. Subtle indicators that your unconscious brain will pick up far quicker than any business consultant.
Sometimes what you are feeling is that gap between how you would like things to be and how they are.
That may be because you are always thinking about improvements to the business and employees are not. And you have not yet communicated your changing aspirations clearly enough.
At this stage, it’s important that you take time to consider the scale of the changes you wish to make and the purpose behind them. Demanding lots of little changes for no apparent reason is a good way to irritate your employees.
They will respond with passive resistance, and your frustration will deepen. By contrast, setting a big change ambition that makes sense to employees will get heads nodding and begin to unlock their discretionary effort.
Big ambition is best articulated in simple human language, not business school jargon. For example: ‘This year we are going to make it effortless for customers to use us.’ rather than ‘This year we will strive to optimize our customer service to global standards.’
But before you communicate your change ambition, take time to reflect on your own readiness for change.
An effective change programme will not only challenge your staff and management, but it will also challenge you. It may ask you to question the very policies and practices that have been the bedrock of your business.
It will almost certainly suggest changes to your investment habits. Perhaps you will need to build a Talent Management Department to replace your Personnel Manager. Or invest in different kinds of Marketing.
Or close the Export Sales Office that you, personally, struggled to set up in a neighbouring country.
More importantly, it may well invite you to change the way that you - as a business owner or leader - behave.
True business transformation will create a ‘bottom-up’ movement inside an organisation that will encourage employees to challenge the way things have always been done.
If you aren’t prepared to be challenged in this way, don’t call for change. Stay as you are and hope for the best!
Chris Harrison leads The Brand Inside