How to Get Traction For Your Company’s New Year Improvement Initiatives

The New Year is well underway, and it’s likely no surprise that the start of the New Year is a popular time to roll out new strategic initiatives at organizations. However, just like personal New Year’s resolutions, it’s a lot easier to come up with a bright, shiny vision of the future than to actually work through the day-to-day implementation of those ideas. And unfortunately, most “New Year’s Resolutions” don’t last past the first couple weeks. So how, exactly, can you get traction for your company’s new business improvement initiatives?

#1: Buy-In vs. Weigh-In

The starting point for many organizations should be generating a feeling of passion and excitement about any new change initiative. After all, if team members aren’t excited about a new project or initiative, they may choose to ignore it completely– or even look for subtle ways to sabotage it. In response, most organizations talk about getting “buy-in” for an idea. This usually means the CEO or some other senior leader will gather the troops and give a great presentation about why the initiative makes so much sense for the organization.

There’s just one problem with this approach – it does not always generate the type of momentum needed to sustain a long-term project. People lose interest in a project if it’s not generating results immediately. Moreover, if a project requires learning new software, installing new hardware or working longer hours, you can be assured that there will be pushback.

As a result, Adapt Consulting recommends a management approach that focuses on “weigh-in” rather than “buy-in.” In other words, we encourage team members to get involved, to have their voices heard, and to contribute meaningfully to any dialogue. Give them the tools to suggest changes, tweaks and options for the improvement initiative. And, most importantly, ensure that team members take ownership of the project. If they can weigh in, they will be all-in.

#2: Incremental goals and milestones

The second major step is to break down a seemingly unattainable goal into a series of smaller, incremental steps. Along the way, build in milestones so that people can actually see progress being made. Whenever possible, post evidence of these milestones being attained.

For example, think of the game of football. Yes, you can attempt big “chunk plays” and impressive “splash plays” that score touchdowns. But how often are those plays really successful? They usually leave you in desperation third-and-long plays where you’re under impossible pressure to generate results.

Instead, the most successful teams focus on marching up and down the field, recording first down after first down. They are always in “third-and-short” situations, not in “third-and-long” situations. Before you know it, they’re in the red zone, ready to push the ball over the goal line. That’s the approach that you need to take as an organization – consistently scoring points by marching up and down the field. That’s what generates momentum and big wins, not valiant efforts to make an organization change overnight.

#3: Proactive management

It’s the job of management to be proactive during the change implementation process. It’s not enough just to introduce an idea: managers need to be able to lead from ahead as well as from behind. Workers need to see physical evidence that management takes any new improvement initiative seriously.

Moreover, managers need to be creative about how they keep people aware of the change implementation process. Memos, documents and email updates might be easy to create, but they often lack the “pop” needed to inspire people. So think about visual representations of goals and approaches that can be posted around the organization to give employees “graphic understanding” of what is being achieved by your organization. A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words.

And, don’t forget about the role of creativity in driving change. If you find that typical motivators and key performance indicators (e.g. monthly sales) aren’t doing the job, then what about embracing creative ideas like gamification to inspire co-workers? Why not look at what other companies in completely unrelated industries are doing to empower their workers?

As you can see, if you are looking to gain traction for your change management initiative in the New Year, then it all starts with getting “weigh-in” rather than “buy-in.” From there, make sure you divide large goals into smaller, attainable steps. Little wins soon lead to big victories. Change is hard, but it’s very possible if you follow this basic framework. Don’t know where to start? Start by talking to an Improvement Strategist who can help you prioritize and implement your goals. Click here to get started.

Quote of the Day:

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

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