Unlike painting a picture, there are right ways and wrong ways to institute changes in your organization and we sat down with an expert to determine what those are.
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About Our Guest:
Owner and CEO - ThinkFree
Jenna Smith is a business strategy consultant and owner at ThinkFree Consulting. She works with business entrepreneurs and CEOs take ideas and vision and make them a reality through sound change and growth strategy.
We sat down with Jenna to discuss the top 5 faux pas that people make when implementing change. This year we have seen a lot of change that has happened to us this year, but the most robust businesses are still instituting internal changes that can further their success. Jenna highlights some of the biggest factors to keep in mind when pushing your organization to the next level.
Don’t be part of the 80 percent that fail. Be the example that others follow.
Halie Morris 0:31
Hi, my name is Halie Morris. I’m your podcast coordinator and host here at Everyday Business Solutions and today I have with me, Jenna Smith. I’m super excited to talk to Jenna because we’re gonna dive into the hot spot of our season. That’s change and change management. So before we roll into that, I’m going to go ahead and let Jenna introduce herself and tell you a bit more about what she does.
Jenna Smith 0:54
Hi, everyone. Thank you for having me, Halie. This has been a great podcast and I’m so excited to be here. So what do I do, I am a change management expert. I’m also someone who’s over their career has helped businesses from a billion-dollar organization to startups and solopreneurs and nonprofits go through the transition of figuring out what their big idea is, what their big vision is, and how to transform their organization and themselves to be able to get it.
So I’ve studied a lot of change management, a lot of strategies. That is what I do with entrepreneurs and CEOs, I help them learn and navigate the process of scaling their business and their big ideas so that they can have their dream business.
Thank you, Jenna. The reason we brought her on today is not only because she is a great resource for those leaders in the business environment, but no matter what position you’re in, oftentimes you might come up in a situation where you need to instigate change or you need to take a leadership role. Even if it’s not been formally assigned to you.
No matter where you’re coming from, whether you’re fresh out of college, you’ve been in the field for a bit, or you’re just now starting a company, this information is going to be great for you. Jenna also has a deal that she’s going to run. So I’ll let her introduce that before we continue.
So when you’re going through a big change, oftentimes, it’s really good to have a second pair of eyes on what you’re doing on your idea on what the best strategies are.
I offer to people who listen to podcasts like these that you can have a 30-minute strategy call with me where we can just talk through one idea that’s going to help you scale your business idea or your organization in the next 30 days.
If you’re interested in doing that, feel free to go to the link that we’re going to provide in the notes. But it’s Jennasmith.as.me/scale and sign up for the strategy call. I only offer a few of these every single month. So make sure if you’re listening to this, that way you get on that now because once they’re gone, they’re gone.
This is just a great opportunity for you to be able to start building your business today.
Thank you, I’m super excited about that. I hope we definitely have some people who take advantage of it. So pivoting back around to our topics, it’s changed. Before we really rock into what makes a successful change in a business or what might hinder it, how do you define the change in a business? Like what is it from your site? How do you see it?
I think of change not necessarily as a static moment in time. But as a process that we all go through at all times in our lives and in our business. This process has the opportunity within it in which you can shift and transform every single thing within your business to align to what you want in a better future.
That is a change to me. It’s this process of transformation that happens both internally within your business and externally to your customers Even internally for yourself. That transforms you into a business that can provide better products, better services, have more reach to your customers, and all of those things.
So that’s what it is. It’s a process and a cycle that happens to all of us. We’re all changing whether we want to or not. It’s just a matter of the way in the direction that we want to take it and how we harness the process of change for ourselves and our desires and our dreams.
I couldn’t agree more. It’s not this one and done type of thing. I think some people hope it is and embracing the fact that it’s more cyclic. It is something that can be positive and good and the transformative space will create a much better outlook.
With that being said, there are some do’s and some don’ts when it comes to change. It’s a great chance for us in this episode today to really dive into if you’re going to instigate change, whether it’s in your personal life on your team or in a business as a whole.
How do you do that? So if you don’t mind, will you lead us off on talking about some dos and don’ts?
Absolutely. Before that can we back up just a second and look at change transformations overall. 80% of change transformations-the intentional ones, the ones we want to change-fail in organizations. There’s a lot of reasons why.
You can look at the studies and they’re gonna say things like, “They didn’t define their objectives”, “they didn’t have a good scope”, “they didn’t plan effectively”, “they didn’t communicate effectively”, “there were poor management skills involved”. All those are all great things actually. Those are things that you can learn about. What I’d like to focus on today are the things that you’re missing, that are just good things to know, and good practices to know. Especially as the landscape of how to navigate change is changing itself.
Business expectations are changing, employee expectations are changing. It’s really important for you to know these five things as well. The first one is a big one. That’s the fact that when you go to plan, you’ve got all these grand visions, these big ideas, maybe you’re thinking, “Okay, we can take our company and go here or I can do this initiative and it’s going to change the face of everything for us”. But you have no idea where to start.
So you go into a planning session and you’re like, “Okay, we’re going to do this and then this and then this”. Traditional change models will tell you that leaders should go together in a group talk amongst themselves and then they should be able to come up with a plan. Then they’ll go out and tell everybody else. Well, I’m here to say that in today’s world that does not work.
The first sign of change management is assuming that you can plan alone.
When you have hired a team of people around you, you have a team of other co-workers. Those people have different perspectives. They think differently, they’re working on different things. They honestly control the bottom line and the output of your idea turning into a vision.
To ignore the team and just expect them to get in line is a little bit of outdated thinking. Not that this is necessarily a democracy. The leaders have the call. However, bringing your team in to understand and to give insight and wisdom that maybe you don’t have in that space because you’re not doing the work every day or a coworker who maybe thinks really analytically, while you think really conceptually. That’s the best way to plan, start to shift, and transform. You’re going to get multiple perspectives and just an overall well-rounded plan for how to move forward.
So that’s the first one.
Then you bring your team with you when you do that. So if it’s a leadership team that’s creating change, then of course the leadership’s on board. But what a lot of groups will see is that when it’s only a couple of individuals making the change or the planning for everybody else, then there’s a lot of objections the whole way through if they don’t bring the team along from the start.
Absolutely. I think that’s the biggest thing, your team is going to be implementing this, your coworkers are going to be impacted by this. So if you’re not bringing them along then how can you expect them to just be automatically engaged and engagement in the day-to-day transformation is where change happens. They’re the ones doing the day-to-day work.
You really need to make sure they’re along for the ride, not only just because it’s going to impact your bottom line, but because it’s a great way to keep your employees engaged and your team engaged and to get better results.
Wow. Yeah, thank you.
Also, I think that is if you don’t start there, you don’t start with the engagement and involvement of everyone who could be impacted, then the rest of our tips probably don’t matter because you’re probably already setting yourself up for some failure along the way.
Which brings us into the next point: what is the second sin of change management then?
The second sin is holding on to the past.
People often go straight to like team members being resistant. Resistance is a normal emotion to have from change especially when you’re finding out you weren’t part of that process.
However, I’m going to challenge our leaders at this moment to say, what are your non-negotiables? What are the things that maybe you’re holding on to the past about? In the ways that work gets done, in the way you hold meetings and the way that you make decisions in your systems/ technology?
Are there things that are untouchable in this transformation that maybe you haven’t even recognized but could potentially hold back this transformation from happening? Those things could be the barrier between you getting that done and getting it done well.
So holding on to the past isn’t just about like this,”oh well this person wants to do their job and they don’t want their job to change. So they’re gonna be resistant.” It’s about those hidden non-negotiables that we all have. The key here is then to know that you have to honor the past.
Some people want to hold on to the past, right? But some people really want to just bulldoze it all and move forward. I’m suggesting here that there is a balance. You always honor the past because the past of what worked before got you to where you are today.
However, if you have a bigger vision, and that vision requires things to shift and transform, then you need to be able to honor the past and also redefine how that work gets done. Then move forward in that direction. That’s super important because it’s giving you a better less-dramatic approach to change. But it also gets rid of a lot of barriers that might be in the way because you’re not willing to budge on how you make decisions or how things are prioritized or any of that.
So that’s number two.
It’s such a great thing because you don’t notice those sometimes biases or those things that you’re clinging to that are buried down deep. But it’s like mixing grout when you’re building up a foundation on something: you mix the old with the new where they meet, there’s going to be some instability and sometimes the old might not be as strong.
But like you said, if you’re full steam ahead and you’re all new, new, new- then where did those learning curves come into play? Where’s all that gain that you had before?
Somebody who works out or trains doesn’t want to have to start from scratch every single time. Especially if they’re bodybuilders or something, they don’t wanna start from little to no muscle all over again, every single time they have a new competition or a new goal. That would kind of defeat the purpose.
Yep. That’s key.
There are some things that won’t change. If your organization is transforming, it may be likely that your values aren’t changing or that the way you honor your customers isn’t changing. Those core things rarely change. Of course, there might be tweaks but the core aspects never really change completely across the spectrum.
So what you do is you build on those things, you build on the things that work. Then you honor the things that worked in the past that maybe won’t work in the future. You let them stay where they are: in the past. So that you can move forward.
Thank you. I feel like I’m learning as we’re talking. So It’s great. But that does lead us into our next one… if we are making sure we’re bringing the whole team along, and we’re learning from the past without carrying it with us like baggage, what is our third sin of change management that we absolutely all must watch for?
So the third one then is changing in a vacuum. So a lot of people think that when they go to change something like a product or to add a new service, that the scope of the transformation is only focused on that one area such as adding that new service or targeting different customers.
If you’re truly transforming your organization, you need to look more holistically at your business. It’s not just as simple as adding a new service. How do your systems change? How will your prioritization change?
Because now that you have two- five different services, you’re probably going to have some competing priorities. How will you prioritize? How will work get done? How will your employees start to look at what they should be doing and how they should be organized. What does that mean for your capacity?
Anytime you add something new into the game. Anytime you’re transforming your organization, it’s going to be a holistic look. The other things do matter too. Such as your culture, your people, your systems, your operations, your mindset, and your leadership skills as a leader.
Without looking at those things, you risk the chance of the change stalling and you’ll risk having a lot of organizational problems down the road because you didn’t manage those things upfront. The bottom line is that don’t change in a vacuum.
Instead, look holistically at your organization and the downstream impacts of this change. Think through those and be intentional about how you will address those things as you move forward.
So that’s the third one.
Well, sometimes it is a bigger change. Such as refacing an entire department or an entire process. But there are everyday changes that are the same. One great example that we are all familiar with is teammates coming and going.
Anytime you add a new teammate, it shifts the entire dynamic of the team. Eventually the organization as a whole. Then you’re working differently because there’s a new player in the mix. I’m a firm believer that every player is a key player.
Of course, you’re going to shift. It’s the same way anytime you make a shift in one department. If it’s a process or whatever, it’s going to have a ripple effect. Sometimes that’s rather large and sometimes it’s smaller.
For smaller businesses, something that you should consider is when your business grows and it’s just you or maybe you’re a micro business with 10 people or maybe you’re a small business with up to 50 employees, your whole business, the look of your business, the feel of your business- that automatically must change.
You’re truly rapidly scaling at that point. Every time things double or you start to go into really strategic innovation types of initiatives, you have to look at everything. It’s just something you have to do for the health of the organization.
It’s bringing people along too because if you’re only looking at one space, you’re probably leaving out people who are impacted. When you leave out people who are impacted, they’re going to be bitter. Even if it could be something good for them.
Yeah, it’s a lot harder for them too. They have to go through that whole change process of emotions that come with it. So it’s dragging out the process a little bit just because they’re not intentionally being resistant, but because they have to process those emotions and all the ramifications.
Also how it applies to their job and what will change in the way they do things. So if you’re leaving them out till later, then they can’t help you in the first place to know if it does impact their job. They’re also going to be not dragging their feet on purpose, but just trying to process things.
So yeah, you have to bring people along and look holistically. Those are the really, really big components there.
We all have that feeling of if something happens to you and if it’s a very rapid change where everybody/ every other department is on board but you didn’t know what was happening. Then you’re like, “wait, wait, I’m not prepared. Hold on, I have things going on”.
It’s mostly just a courtesy thing. It’s a smart thing to do to make your business run well and continue to grow. All right. we’re getting just over halfway through with the five Sins of change management. Which brings us to our fourth.
So what is the fourth son of change management?
The fourth one is that you think this is a set and forget it type of situation.
So like I said at the beginning, change is not a light switch. Change is not a static process. It’s a cycle. It’s something that is always happening in your business.
In fact, it’s not happening to your business, but rather something that you can actually instigate. You can start this whole cycle. You can proactively go after the change and use it to your advantage. But it is not a light switch. It’s not something where you can say, “Okay, light switch on, we’re going to plan how we’re going to transform, we’re going to do this first, this second, and this third”. “Here’s our KPIs”.
That’s not what this is all about. Then you expect that this plan is going to then somehow just get done. That’ll be the end of it. That is not how it works.
How it does work is that it’s cyclical, it’s something that’s always evolving and moving forward. You need to think about it that way because change doesn’t just happen all at once. You can’t expect that once you’ve decided things are going to happen that they’ll change overnight.
Sometimes it takes time, my son right now is learning how to walk. So he’s crawling and sometimes he stands up a little bit. Sometimes he’s cruising along with the furniture. I know that he sees the other kids at daycare a couple of days a week. He sees the kids walk and they’re his age.
So he’s thinking, I want to make this change, I want to walk, other people are walking, mom & dad are walking. But he doesn’t know exactly how to do it. He doesn’t get frustrated though. He doesn’t get frustrated by the fact that he tries once and falls down or that he kind of stands up and he’s like, “Ah, I’m not quite sure about this,” he continues to persistently move forward.
I think we need to have that attitude when we come to business and business transformation and change. Things take time to change, especially when they’re large changes. Especially when they have cultural impacts.
If you’re getting a really big vision and you’re asking your team or your employees to transform in certain ways or to do things very differently, then that means that they literally have to rewire their brain to think in a different way.
So this isn’t a light switch moment for them. This is something that’s going to be a process that takes time. The way to do that is to focus on daily application. I’ve done strategic planning with large organizations and small. We’ve talked about changes, we’ve planned for changes, we’ve got the communication plan, and all of that.
The thing that sets us apart from organizations that change well versus those that get stuck and fail (because remember 80% of change transformations fail) is the fact that the CEO, the leaders, and the employees all apply these changes to their everyday life. So when they’re in their business as usual or their Monday morning meeting, they’re talking about this, they’re talking about the implications of this in their decision-making process. When the project manager is implementing something, they’re thinking “you know what I wonder if we could build this in and that’s going to actually help us to increase our market share in this area because that’s our big vision”.
Those daily conversations are where the transformation truly happens. That’s why change is not a light switch that doesn’t happen at once. It’s going to take daily applications.
That’s the fourth sin of change management.
You mentioned your son and it made me think of like parents out there. So if you’re not a leader in an organization, you’re not somebody instigating change. These are things you can apply from whatever position you’re in. Also at home. I was just thinking, if you’re just set and forget it type of person, I can’t imagine if you’re a parent. If you just dropped that kid into your life and then just been like, “Okay, now we’re parents.”
I’m sure you weren’t just magically parents, you didn’t just magically integrate that new life into your family without blinking. It doesn’t happen like that. Sometimes things change in aspects of kids growing up, starting to walk, and getting into things. Sometimes You have to be like, “the crib has to change, we have to baby proof everything”. Now we have to baby-proof every edge because they love to fall.
It’s like that with any kind of change you make, you can’t just drop them in and expect it all to snap into place. It definitely does not work with kids, but anything you would do. If you decide to change a house, you can’t just magically jump into a house and everything’s in place. That was when you left your old one and you’re ready to just go. It doesn’t work like that.
The theme here for people who want to change well is that you need to learn how to be nimble and efficient and continue assessing what’s going on in the change. Then applying that new information, adjusting your techniques, and your actions.
It’s not a light switch. It’s continual, it’s a continual curiosity about what’s going on. Also how you can make adjustments and movements more towards that big vision that you have. The same thing goes with parenting or your life. Right now I’m being very intentional about reading parenting books, about thinking about the type of parent I want to be.
When everyday situations are coming up where my son gets upset when the dogs go outside. He can’t go outside because it’s cold here in Nebraska. So I have to figure out as a parent, what do I want my response to be?
The same goes for leaders in organizations, when things maybe don’t go expectedly or to plan, you have to be intentional about how you’re going to change and what decisions are going to make, and why. So it’s really yeah, it’s holistic, you can do it, what whether it’s in your life or your business.
You mentioned a good point about being a leader. We’re all kind of at fault with this. Whether it’s, in my case, being a big sister to one of the most hyperactive, sassy, caring little girls in the world. Who do I want to be because we’re so sometimes dissatisfied with ourselves? It’s because we don’t stop and ask enough while you want to be a specific type of person. If you’re not consciously working towards that and making it habitual, you’re not instigating that change. It’s not going to happen.
All right. So we are towards the end of our list. That brings us to our fifth and final sign of change management. What would that be Jenna?
That is trying to figure it out all on your own.
Especially for entrepreneurs or for big visionaries, department leaders, leaders of organizations, even managers oftentimes have these really big ideas and these big thoughts on what we could do and what we could change. I want to give you permission right now to not have to have all of the answers.
You don’t have to be able to solve all the problems. In fact, you shouldn’t. You should have other people that can come alongside you and help you do that. I think of companies as they’re learning how to grow, transform, and change.
You need to be thinking about who your strategic partners are, who you want to have on your team at this next level. Whether that’s who’s helping you with your technology or who’s going to help give you that 50,000-foot view? What happens a lot of times is that once we’re in the change, we get lost in the woods.
I have a little story to tell. It’s actually kind of like what happened to me and my husband when we lived in upstate New York. So we lived in upstate New York but we’re from Nebraska. In Nebraska when you take a vacation, a lot of times you’re going to Colorado and you see the Rockies so we decided since we were in upstate, that we would just drive a couple of hours up north and see the mountains and take a little day hike.
So we got up and we were driving up there. It was going to be a fun half-day hike. We had our snacks and had our water. We’re really pumped about this. We drove up in the mountains. They looked like hills to us because we had seen the Rockies right. So we’re like, “oh, this is gonna be easy”. Mind you. We’ve never really hiked. We’ve often casually hiked mountains before and like short hikes, not Kilimanjaro.
So we got up to the mountain. We go ahead and we get out of the car. We take the dog, we’ve got our snacks, we’ve got our water, and we start walking. We’re walking and it’s beautiful. We enjoyed the foliage, the moss, and the trees. Then about an hour in, we’re like, “Well, you know what I don’t think we can see the car and we can’t see the top. So where are we? I don’t know, this trail is kind of marked but there’s not really anybody else around”.
So then we had to go and we kept walking. Soon our snacks were gone, our water was gone and there was no sight of the top of this “mountain”. which wasn’t a big mountain. So what we ended up doing was thinking, “well, we have to go forward, we have to see the top”. But we don’t know how we’re going to get there. We don’t know what it’s going to look like. We don’t know if we’re on the right path. All of these things were happening. Finally, when we got to the top, we realized we were really not prepared for this.
The mounting from the conceptual perspective in your business and in your life, that big vision always looks very conceptually easy to you. You can see it, you can touch it, you can feel it. But when you’re in the game of walking through the change when you’re in the game of walking through that transformation, you are in the weeds, you’re in the forest, and you don’t know where you’re going, why you’re going, or how you’re going to get there.
That’s why it’s so important to not figure it out on your own because you can’t see the forest from the trees and sometimes you need a map. Sometimes you need a person just to pull you out and say here’s the 50,000-foot perspective. Here’s what you’re missing. Here’s what you need to know more about. Here are some things you should consider.
That’s why it’s so important to get that and whether that’s hiring a consultant, finding someone who can help you with technology for your systems or your operations, or even just talking to a company or organization that’s been there and done that before.
Never change on your own. It’s too big of a process. Your vision is so valuable that it’s not worth trying to figure it out. When there are experts out there who have gone through the transformation or who have led other organizations through transformations that can help you with this process.
So that’s the last one. Don’t figure it out on your own. You could do so much better than that and your vision deserves so much better than that.
It’s not a weakness to need a little bit of help. We’re not expected to be experts in everything, no matter what position you’re in again. You had me on my seat. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, did you get lost?”
Kind of it was touch and go. We realized after that that we need to always prepare more than we should in life. So it was a good learning lesson for us.
Yeah, I was laughing because you’re like, “Oh, were going to Colorado to go on a hike”. Then you’re like upstate New York. I was like, “Well, I’m not quite over there. But I’m in the Ohio/Michigan area and I know for a fact that in this part of the country, they’re not mountains in the same way as in Colorado. But then you said, “and there were hills”?
Yeah, they were hills until we were walking in them and then they were mountains, at least it felt like. There were moments where I didn’t know if we were gonna make it.
I have not been out to Colorado but hopefully next year and then I’ll be able to relate a little bit more to the difference. But I’ve hiked in Tennessee which the Smokies are not as big as the Rockies and they can still be a rough hike. Especially if it’s hot out or the weather’s just yeah. We didn’t hike all the way up to the top. We went up and played in a waterfall and came back down.
The Adirondacks. They’re beautiful. It’s a great place to camp and hike, just be prepared and all of that.
I have a hiking friend, he does love to hike like he was out in Oregon hiking and I will definitely be pulling his expertise the first time I saw it all right.
Well, thank you. I think this is an amazing perspective. I think leaders can take a lot from this. Maybe they know it already. Maybe they’re great leaders and intrinsically they know this stuff. But they probably need a little refresher. I think all of us need a little refresher every once in a while or they miss one or two things and their normal weapon repertoire changes.
For anybody in any perspective, whatever position you may be in, apply this not just your work life, but at home. If you’re going to instigate change, make sure that you get everybody involved in the beginning, make sure that you’re not latching on to the same old things that were always done, or that you’re not holding on to aspects of the past that were great to learn from, but maybe not great to carry the way they are into the future. Make sure you’re looking at everything that could be impacted and not just the one thing you’re changing. Don’t set it and forget it. You can’t just drop a baby into a family and expect everything to run smoothly. So don’t do that with any other change in your life.
Then lastly, you are human, you cannot be perfect at everything. So make sure you’re not trying to haul it along the entire way. Reach out, pull on the expertise of others, and make sure you get to the finish line in good shape.
As we finished up, Jenna, did you have any other advice that you would like to offer our listeners?
It’s just that the change process, the cycle, and the transformation process is just giving yourself grace in the process. Be curious. Always be in touch with the beat, make it an everyday part of your life and you will see so many things change, you’ll see so much momentum happen. It’s really a beautiful process if you allow it to happen rather than trying to control it.
That’s what I really help leaders do. So if you’re going through change, if you’re trying to scale your business, or you’re trying to scale your leadership, or your team is, I’d love for you to reach out and just let me know what’s going on.
Maybe we can have some virtual coffee and collaborate on what’s going on in your business. That’s why I offer that strategy to scale calls. It’s just to give you that one strategy that’s going to help you to shift and transform your business in the next 30 days or your change process in the next 30 days so you can get unstuck and move forward.
So if you’d like, grab one of the three spots left available this month or for next month, and you can have 30 minutes with me for free. So go ahead and do that. It’s Jennasmith.as.me/scale.
Yeah. Thank you for coming on Jenna, this has been an amazing episode and I can’t wait to share it. For everybody who’s listening, not only is there going to be a handy dandy bio with Jenna’s information and her link that she wants to provide. We are also going to transcribe this entire episode.
So all five sins and all the tips that corresponded with them are going to be in that transcription. As well as any other little tidbit of information we might have mentioned.
I think I’m funny. If you want to read my jokes again, go for it. You’re bold.
Anyways, thank you Jenna for coming on. Thank you everyone for tuning in, and have a great rest of your day.