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Change before you have to

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Proactive leaders stay ahead of the change curve

Fostering a culture that embraces change gives your business a competitive advantage.  It enables innovation during the best of times.  It enables survival during the worst.

Jack Welch, the iconic leader best-known for transforming GE, advised, “Change before you have to.  Never be happy where you are.  Get a culture at your company that loves change.  And every time there’s a quantum change (in the business world), jump!”  Welch insisted his leaders embrace change as a management responsibility.  He urged them to stay ahead of the curve by seeking out opportunities for change as a matter of priority.

Here are 3 ways to proactively identify opportunities for positive change in your organization.

  1. Listen to your customers.
    Look for repetition of themes in customer complaints and address them.  Ask the people closest to your customers to weigh in.  Voice-of-the-customer interviews prove that when customers say you are good at something, you excel.  If customers say you are bad at something, things are probably much worse than you imagine.  The employees closest to your customers can provide vital insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your customer-facing processes.  Listen carefully to their concerns, stay open to new ideas, and implement beneficial changes.
  2. Use the data you have. 
    Your organization may not have key performance indicators, dashboards, or sophisticated analytics, but use the data you do have.  Be proactive when you see a worrying trend and strive to solve problems early on.  Investigating to find the root cause of an issue can provide insight into inefficient processes.  It can also prevent more significant problems from developing in the future.
  3. Be aware of the attitude and energy of your team. 
    If turnover is increasing and performance is declining, it’s imperative that you reengage your workforce.  Studies show that raises won’t do it, and cheerleading won’t last.  Instead, give your team a chance to invest in changing the way they work.  An engaged workforce has a greater willingness to participate, innovate, and take ownership of outcomes.  Involve your people at the point of creation to gain their support and keep them involved and informed to secure their ongoing commitment.

Welch was right.  The best time to initiate change is before there’s an urgent need.  Stay vigilant and be proactive.  When you recognize an opportunity for positive change, be a change leader.  Engage your team in solving problems and achieving results together.  Teaching your team to change on purpose and with purpose will have long term benefits for you and your company.

Change the way you change

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