“Change is Hard” is Bullsh*t, Here’s How to Inspire Your Team to Change

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You will not be the same company at $10 million that you are at $1 million.

Between those two figures lay a multitude of changes. You cannot grow without change. “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished,” wrote Franklin.

As your business matures, you will encounter the objection “change is hard” so many times, that you need to prepare to deal with it judiciously, not only for your team … but for yourself.

 

Why does the phrase “change is hard” have such power to prevent us from growing?

 

It’s usually because of scenarios like this:

Ann works 60-70 hour weeks, and she’s constantly on the go.

She has a support team she relies on, but, truth is, they rely entirely too much on her, flooding her with questions every day:

  • Can I overnight this expensive sample?
  • How low should I go on this margin?
  • The order for ABC Corp missed its ship date, what should we do?
  • Can I use this new supplier?

These are not unimportant questions; they are just unnecessary.

The result? Ann’s exhausted and her team is frustrated. Ann and her team lack clearly defined systems that empower decision making.

Salespeople think “systems” are killjoys that murder spontaneity. The truth is, even if they are the most freewheeling, freethinking salesperson on the planet, they already follow systems. According to the book E-Myth (a book that many consider the entrepreneurial bible) a system, in its most simplistic form, is simply a way of doing things. Systems are simply routines. Your route to work is a system. Your weekly meeting schedule is a system. Salespeople know that systems are the rails on which they fly.

The irony? Ann’s team is following an unwritten protocol, an unstructured system that they follow religiously, the system of depending entirely on Ann.

Until Ann decides to make a change, and build a better system for her team, she’ll remain frayed and her team, fragmented, both of which lead to one destination for all: burnout.

 

“Change before you have to.” – Jack Welch

 

Systems and processes are created in businesses either accidentally or on-purpose. Or, what E-Myth describes as intentional systems vs. unintentional systems. Unintentional systems are the result of fast growth and old habits. Intentional systems are processes created for optimum performance based on long term goals.

Intentional businesses are system dependent; unintentional systems are people dependent.

Ann is smart. By now she realizes that her team is following an unintentional system. She knows she should change the way they are doing business by creating a better system and defining it for her company but each time she broaches the subject with her team, she is rebuffed by the phrase “change is too hard.” 

 

So, how do we bury the myth “Change is hard!” forever?

 

The obvious counterpoint to the phrase “change is hard” is the reality that not changing is much harder. But that’s too logical. And human beings don’t make decisions logically, they make decisions emotionally and justify them rationally.

If we make decisions emotionally, then, for a team, the question is not:

  •  How do I convince my team to change? (logic)

The right question is:

  •  How do I lead my team to imagine the right outcome so that they are inspired to change? (emotion)

 

 

Your Last Big Change

 

Think back to when you bought a home. This was a big change. If change is so hard, what made you take the risk?

You were inspired by your vision of the outcome.

From the time you started looking for a place to live, to the time you made the decision to move, you filled your head with visions of what your life would be like once you were in your new digs. You painted a mental picture, constantly. You pictured how liberated you would feel when you would no longer be stuck in your old, cramped quarters. You thought of the interior design and the layout. Your future vision was so all-consuming that you thought more often about the outcome of the change than you did the change itself (the pain of moving). Your dream kept your enthusiasm alive as you looked beyond the change and focused on the result of change. The change (moving) wasn’t insurmountable enough to keep you from accomplishing your goal.

 

Imagination Over Reason

 

The most critical step to making a major “systems” change is to keep your mind focused on the outcome, which requires an act of imagination more than reason. 

And, when trying to convince teams to change, this means we must invest more time in coaching, encouragement, and inspiration.

If you are making a major systems change, begin by asking your team to imagine themselves 90-days after the change. Encourage your team to write down their responses to the question, “How will I feel about this 90-days from now?” If you are making a systems change, some answers to this question might be:

  • This change will begin a new season in my career; I will have more room to grow.
  • The change might be difficult but the outcome will mean more income.
  • I’ll spend less time messing with frivolous details and more time doing the things I love.

Or, let’s just get real. Real, real:

  • I won’t hate my job anymore.
  • I will love waking up every day to my work.
  • I won’t cringe when I open my email.
  • I’ll finally start making more money.
  • I’ll have time for a life outside of work.

Just like moving to a new home, the act of moving (changing) is merely a part of the process and as a company committed to growth, this is a process you will go through again and again.

As a leader, the key to changing a team is not to combat fears with logic, nor to focus on the difficulty of the change, but to envision the outcome in such vivid detail, and communicate it with such clarity, that you ignite imaginations and inspire the willingness to change.

 

“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”*

 


Stay tuned for our next article on how to analyze your current systems, identify the right processes to change, and how to implement these into the muscle memory of your organization.

This post is a continuation in our series “The Path to $10 Million.” Previous posts include, 8 Secrets the Pros Know About Protecting Your Bottom Line and Maximizing Your ProfitThe #1 Training Method for the Promotional Products IndustryUnvarnished and Unconventional: Bold Ideas on How to Build a Better Promotional Products Support Team4 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Promotional Products Salespeople7 Questions That Help You Focus and Find Your Personal Path to Success3 Critical Roles in a Promotional Products Distributorship: The Architect, the Sales Driver, and the Nurturer, and The 5 Stages of Business Growth.


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Quote by W. Edwards Deming


Also published on Medium.