Change can be exhilarating or difficult. Our response is determined by what the change is (something that I like versus something that I fear), when the change happens (good margin versus no margin), and the nature of my temperament (change energizes me versus change stresses me). Here are seven tips to successfully implement change this year.
1. Start where you are.
If you want to lose weight, you have to know what your present weight is. If you want to grow revenue, you need to know what your present revenue is. Only then can you determine whether you will be successful at change.
2. Focus on the benefits.
Most change requires some level of sacrifice. If you want to change yourself or your organization, but all you and others focus on is how much it will cost, how painful it will be, how much it will make others unhappy – you get the point – it will drain you before it even happens. Focus on the benefits more than the sacrifices.
3. Work on it as a team.
During the training of Navy Seals, teamwork is highly stressed. As one Seal said – they hammer it into you! Having at least one other person to help, encourage, and provide accountability dramatically increases the likelihood of successful change. And, it makes the experience more fun!
4. Aim for small wins.
Picture walking into a fitness center where all you see are powerful looking, cross fit trained, adrenaline filled exercise animals. Most of us would immediately turn around and stop at the nearest Red Robin for a burger! Successful change starts with small wins rather than immediate transformation. Aim for consistent wins that accumulate into significant change.
5. Calculate first, execute second.
When the special forces of the U.S. military work on a special operation like a high value target, they first invest a lot time and practice in planning. They look at photos, read intelligence briefings, examine maps, and sometimes even create mock buildings in which to practice. They know that it is better to calculate first and execute second. The opposite can be deadly.
6. Embrace more than resist.
The safety and comfort of what we have can be hard to leave for the unknown. It is this comfort and sometimes even a little arrogance (“it wasn’t my idea so it must not be good”) that feeds resistance to change. If we want to change our organization and ourselves, we need to lean towards embracing change rather than fighting it. This does not mean blind or foolish acceptance, but rather a disposition that starts with openness.
7. Plan for failure.
Everyone loves to brag about their successes but in reality, failure is a part of most change processes. I cut out carbs from my diet but ate five double chocolate chip cookies. I thought my new program at work was a home run, but it was a true crash and burn. I want to save money, but spent far more than I should have. These are examples of failure. And, failure happens. So, begin with the commitment that should I fail, I will not quit. Fess up. Own up. And get up and start again.
“How do you change the world? One room at a time. Which room? The one you’re in.” – Peter Block
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of organizational assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include an M.Ed. in Instructional Systems Design from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership from The Union Institute.