Does Your Business Need a Shift?

These are difficult economic times. Even firms that are doing well would like to be doing better. But even when a business knows where they want to go, the process of actually getting there seems to often take a wrong turn! The desired outcome sits there, almost taunting the leader, owner or manager to reach it, but the mark often gets missed.

After working with individuals in a coaching capacity, and with businesses on business-building and growth, for the better part of two decades, we’ve seen some consistent themes that need to be in place for an effective change management process – and a shift to success. Collaborative principal Bev Flaxington’s latest book, Make the SHIFT: The Proven Five-Step Plan to Success for Corporate Teams, outlines many of these in detail, but following is an overview to get you on your way to making a successful shift.

(1)   It’s critical to know exactly where you want to go. To say, “We want to grow” or “We want to be a $2 bn firm” or “We want to take a market leadership position” isn’t enough. What does success look like overall – both quantitative and qualitative goals? Your team needs to know exactly what they are striving for, in order to get excited and get on board.

(2)   Identify the obstacles you have had or may face, and then categorize them. Too many businesses shy away from looking at obstacles productively. “We don’t want to talk about our problems,” many leaders tell us. But knowing what’s in the way, and having a way to organize those issues and then systematically remove them as part of the process, is extremely powerful. Only when the obstacles come to light can any firm deal with them in an effective manner.

(3)   Know the human capital you have – and what you need. Know who your stakeholders are and who can assist or detract from your efforts. Human beings are in the middle of everything in business, and yet most change processes do not take their existence into consideration! Do the team members get along? Are they poised to make a shift? Do they know who they can lean on? Focus on the people and make them a productive part of the shifting process, too.

(4)   Find alternatives. A company that knows where they need to go should also have a Plan B, a Plan C, and even an “If nothing else works” plan in case of any exigency in the process of shifting. There is never just one way to do something. What are all of the options that might work? Take time to brainstorm, to set criteria for decision-making, and to consider what paths might get you to the same desired outcome.

(5)   Know what you are doing step-by-step. The best ideas can’t come to fruition without a specific plan of action: What. Who. When. How much. In too many cases, we’ve seen leaders “ideate” but then never implement. Have a clear path forward with specifics, and then share it with your team members.

For many firms, it’s an exciting experience to move past whatever has held them back, and to have team members embrace a change movement and move forward confidently. We’ve seen it work over and over again in so many different environments, from small firms to very large. As part of your process, get a copy of our new book – each team member can benefit from using it to walk through the steps and participate. Make 2012 your year to SHIFT!