Determining Growth Potential
Read Time: 4 minutes
An organization goes through many changes, some anticipated and planned while others are totally unexpected. Then there are also external and internal changes. The economy, politics, regulations, technology, and competition are some examples of external sources that can have huge impacts on a company. Internal changes may be prompted by leadership rotation, new ideas, spontaneous growth, production lines, human capital efficiency, or a myriad of other internal successes and failures. The basics for recognizing the need for change, enabling successful changes, and evaluating that success is the same regardless of the impetus. An organization’s ability to quickly recognize, enable, and evaluate success for the change process determines its growth potential.
Recognizing the Need for Change
The need for organizational change makes itself felt in the following areas:
- Missed goals: Goal setting and tracking is a fundamental indicator of change. First and foremost, if profits and revenue struggle, change is required. Other clear indicators are when KPIs are not hitting their mark, projects are late or incomplete, P&L numbers are off-balance, and owners aren’t getting paid.
- Mismatch between mission and strategy: The mission of the company has changed but the strategies have not—the company is trying to cling to a purpose or strategies that no longer work.
- Struggling culture: High turnover, low morale, employee disengagement, and ineffective leadership are all signs that change is necessary.
- Low responsiveness: Everyone is waiting on someone else to make a decision which stalls productivity. Everyone has to be in full agreement before an action is taken which hinders trust. No one is looking ahead for possible obstacles that block creativity. Each of these situations, if unchanged, can quickly lead to the demise of any organization. Change is a must.
- Customer dissatisfaction: Customers are complaining—and complaining that their complaints are ignored. Profits may be constant but revenue is down, with fewer sales at higher prices.
Tip: Customer Service training is essential for all employees. Learn Customer Service 101 and thread it into every area of your business.
- Poor talent management: New ideas are crushed; hiring concentrates on finding people who meet the current mold; online reviews of the company by past and current employees are dismal; there is no onboarding, training, or mentoring plan. Team dysfunction is rampant.
- Insufficient resources: Technology is out of date so employees are overworked fitting modern processes and systems into antiquated machinery. Every job is a rush job as people lack prioritization skills. The entire organization is stressed, personally, and professionally.
Enabling Successful Change
If a change in any of the above areas is going to be successful, then the organization and its leaders must be prepared to:
- Understand: You cannot communicate what you do not understand. Leadership members must first immerse themselves so they can fully comprehend what is working and what isn’t with the goal of communicating change in the way most heard by employees; which is from their perspective
- Prioritize: Make sure you know exactly why you are making the change and pinpoint what you hope to accomplish by it. Prioritize your objectives and the steps to get there acknowledging you cannot successfully change everything at once. A process is essential.
- Leadership: Identify the true leaders—not just the ones with titles—and involve them early.
- Communication: Explain the need, progress, and steps of change to everyone who will be affected. Continue communicating throughout the process and ensure there is a clear follow-up strategy.
- Participation: Encourage participation by and ideas from everyone who has a stake in the change.
- Buy-in: Get buy-in from the people who will be implementing the change, making decisions along the way, and influencing others.
- Resources: Assign the resources (including time) and provide the training needed to complete the change.
- Assistance: Remove barriers to change, such as interdepartmental rivalry or lack of technology. Call in outside help when needed to reach objectives, manage risks, reduce stress, or coach leadership.
- Oversight: Make sure that the change is being implemented on schedule and intermediate goals are being met.
- Celebration: Make milestones along the way and recognize the contribution of everyone.
- Caution: Avoid piling on further changes (or making too many changes at once) until the organization has time to settle.
Evaluating Successful Change
When change works and organizations see positive results, leaders have a tendency to double down and keep changing away in hopes results follow. The caution of this is not stopping to evaluate exactly what is making the change so successful. The more narrow the answer the more intentional the investment into the catalyst a group can be. Consider using some of these strategies to identify what EXACTLY is working:
- People Focused: Surveys, Questionnaires, Focus Groups, Interviews, Observations
- Process Focused: Webbing, Mapping, Supervisor Reports, Checklists, Schematics
- Data Focused: Document Review, MITRE’s Approach, Frameworks, KPI analytic software
Recognizing, enabling, and evaluating the success of change are the three fundamentals essential to determine the growth potential of an organization. It is the ability to break each element down into actionable parts to track, analyze, and leverage. It is important to use People-, Process-, and Data-Focused evaluation strategies to glean the proper information to use.