On November 8, a number of Winston-Salem business owners were forced to reevaluate the safety of their stores when two armed robbers entered the local Family Dollar Store, demanding money. While the employees on duty complied with the robbers’ demands, one of the robbers fired his gun anyway. He injured two employees and left an entire local business community shaken.
The attack didn’t just affect the Family Dollar Store and its employees. Neighboring business owners also reeled from the shock. Suddenly, they had to worry about the safety of their employees. Work had gone from something enjoyable to something fearful. But their positive, forward-thinking reaction to the event allowed them to take action and implement change for the better.
Change Without Trauma
The business owners used the catastrophe as a means to embrace change and improve their world. They resolved to communicate with the police and to report suspicious activities. They decided to build relationships to protect the community.
The Winston-Salem business owners had always known that they should improve outdoor lighting and build relationships with the police. However, there were always more urgent business needs to which they had to attend, so they put off these necessary changes until a traumatic event forced them to change.
As a leader, it’s easy to remain focused on what needs to be done in the moment. Necessary changes get shoved aside until they can’t be ignored. But your business, your employees, and your own life would be better off if you embraced change immediately, instead of putting off hard decisions.
The key is to make time in your schedule to assess your business, analyze its weaknesses, and implement solutions. In the end, weak parts always lead to catastrophic failure for the whole. Business leaders who avoid catastrophe do so by being forward-thinking and proactive, rather than reactive.
Teaching Yourself to Embrace Necessary Change
Routine is comfortable, while change—even necessary change—takes energy and sacrifice, so we tend to avoid it. However, leaders who allow their businesses to grow and thrive must deal with organizational change on a constant basis. The key to changing without fear is to make meaningful change part of your regular routine. Here’s how:
Analyze immediately. It’s tempting to take the results of your assessment and then rest on your laurels. Unfortunately, challenges don’t stop coming up just because you’ve dealt with the last ones. Having repeated assessments means a reduction in problems. If you’re assessing on a monthly basis, there won’t be a lot of analysis to do in any given month. You’ll be tackling problems in manageable bites.
After your assessment, come up with a solution for each area that needs improvement. It doesn’t have to be a perfect solution because you’ll look at it again in a month. Just come up with a small change that improves on the current situation.
Most months, this meeting will be quick and painless. You’ll come away with a list of two or three areas that need improvement. What you do next is key.
Schedule one day per month when you and your staff members can discuss the business. What are you doing well? What do you need to improve? What potential disasters are on the horizon? How can you avoid them?
Add regular assessments to your calendar. Many small and medium-sized business owners only conduct a thorough assessment of their business practices when it’s time for a new strategic plan. If you only assess once every three to five years, it’s going to be an involved, painful process. The key to embracing change is to make small assessments on a more frequent schedule.
Implement solutions immediately. Since you’ve embraced continuous organizational change and improvement for your business, implementing solutions can happen within 48 hours of the monthly meeting. Just make sure your staff understands the reason for your changes. For instance, if you business has been run on private servers for years and you’ve recently decided to switch to a hosted cloud, it’s essential that everyone involved knows why the switch is occurring. Help your staff understand the security, data storage, and organizational benefits of the change. You should also make sure that all members of your staff know that if they have a better and more efficient solution, they should feel free to voice it. Once you’ve created a culture that sees change as routine, everyone in your company will work to find and implement small improvements that yield big results.
Embracing Change Builds Bright Futures
In Winston-Salem, local businesses near the Family Dollar Store are hopeful that their changed relationship with the police will help revitalize their neighborhood. They now have a clear plan for improving safety and giving their businesses the security they need to grow. The injured employees have recovered, the city has applauded the neighborhood’s efforts, and suddenly change is less frightening than the status quo.
You, on the other hand, don’t have to suffer a catastrophe before you embrace change. Start small, reassess frequently, and look towards the future. Your business and your employees will blossom as change becomes routine. If you want to learn more about how to build a strategic vision for your business and achieve your goals, contact Applied Vision Works today.