The First Step

29 May
by Bridget DiCello

Whether you want to increase sales, become more efficient, improve processes, make better decisions, empower employees, or increase profitability, all these changes include the need for many people to make changes in how they do things. When you want people to change, the first step is to create the plan, and then realize that the specific first step is the most difficult to determine and to take.

As a company leader you might think a change will be easy. But, you can’t just mention it, and assume others will take the ball and run with it. They are busy, just like you are. Too often, as a leader, you will lose credibility if a decision is not made quickly, and a reasonable plan put into place to achieve that change with the input of those involved. The detailed plan is quite often not the fun part of improving company performance for the visionary leader.

Company change happens one person at a time. The leader must talk to team members and learn what challenges they face, what’s important to them and how that connects to the change they wish to make. Notice I did not say to find out what’s important to them to determine the direction the company should take. We each look at our own myopic view and for good reason, determine what we consider to be best for us. The role of the leadership team is to have a view of the company overall, in the long term, and be making decisions that move the company forward – which does benefit each employee – although many will not see that big picture, especially if that is not inherent in their personality.

The ability to see the big picture is often seen as a reflection of intelligence, when really it is more common in those in leadership roles – and is often a reason why they are promoted – but has no correlation to intelligence. It can be very difficult, if you are a big-picture, results-oriented person, to have to paint the picture and outline the steps with an employee without thinking they just don’t get it. You may be tempted to overlook their intelligence and wisdom if you are pushing too hard to achieve an end goal and not engaging them in conversation.

Think of something you’d really like to be different or better in your company. Clarify that goal, and add details of how things will look different in the future. Then create the plan of how to get there, including time frames. As you delegate and involve others in the process, realize that for each person the first step is the most difficult to determine and to take. Hold conversations to connect with the employee and lead them through the change. Their engagement and excitement will be far higher when they have had a chance to weigh in on the role they will play in achieving what is important for company growth.

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