Imagine setting off on a journey.
You leave your home and you know you want to get to a city further away – but you haven’t decided why you want to go or what you’ll do when you get there.
Along the way, you stop off at another town. You look around and find somewhere to eat, then you start exploring the landmarks, enjoying the views and finding some hidden gems. Before you know it, you’ve forgotten all about going to the city and you’re staying in the town – or heading back home.
By contrast, if you set off with a purpose in mind, you are far more likely to stick to your journey and to reach your destination without being distracted by something else before you arrive.
How does this apply in business?
Whenever we’re called in to support an organisation facing change, one of the first questions we ask is, “Why?”
“Why?” is always the starting point for successful change. Without knowing your Why, you can’t hope to get the How, When, Who of Where right.
Having purpose behind change is absolutely fundamental to success. Understanding why change is needed gives you the best possible chance of staying on course to achieve your aims.
Think about it: if you don’t know why you need to make change, it affects everything else in the process.
You will struggle to set the most appropriate end goal if you can’t articulate the reasons for setting it in the first place.
Your method of achieving your goal may be flawed if you don’t fully understand why the change is needed.
You can’t possibly convince your team of the merits of what’s ahead if you’re unsure of them yourself..
How do you establish the purpose of change?
Recognising that change is needed is only the first part of the story. It’s surprising how many people fail to look at the bigger picture at this early stage, ploughing on with the change regardless and soon losing sight of what they wanted to achieve in the first place.
We recommend starting out with a thorough examination of your project. Try answering these questions:
- What aspect of your business needs to change?
- What is it that’s not working at present?
- What does future success look like?
In combination, the answers to these questions will give you your purpose of change.
Getting your team to buy in to change
Once you’ve established your purpose, getting your team to buy in to change is vital – and helping them to understand the purpose of change will be the most important factor in your success.
We frequently come across managers who think that, by simply telling their team what is going to happen, they are saving them from the extra burden of needing to understand why. Their intentions are good, but all that happens is that team members feel dictated to, rather than buying into what lies ahead. The change process is inevitably less successful.
People change faster when they have purpose. Explaining why your organisation needs to change will engage people more quickly with the new ways of working. If we believe in the why, we can accept the smaller process changes as being justified.
Share the purpose of change with your team and you might be surprised by their enthusiasm. If they can see the end goal, as well as what future success will mean to them, they are far more likely to play an active role in achieving it. Not only will they be more willing to follow instructions, but they may also chime in with their own contributions and help to add a new dimension to the project.
Once you have established your purpose and got your team to buy in, turn your thoughts to the routes to success. In most cases, there will be several ways in which you could implement change, with variation in cost, timescale, effort and so on. As above, your team may also bring forward new suggestions you hadn’t even considered.
Analyse them all in relation to the success you need to achieve before choosing the way forward.
By establishing the purpose of change, you can transform the entire project and hugely escalate your chances of success.
Planning workplace change and want to ensure you have the best possible chance of success? Contact us to find out how we can help.