“We can be better.” Do you believe the team you work on and the organization you work for can be better? Is it productivity, results, customer service, a reduction in complaints, profit margins, quality of staffing, working environment or physical spaces to name a few things? Or do you honestly believe that there is no area in which your team and your organization can be improved in any way?
Okay, so here I make an assumption; if you answered objectively, you admitted there are ways in which your team and your organization can be better. The next step might appear to examine in what ways?’, but in my mind it’s actually, “Is there a willingness to change in order to become better?”
You see, if you jump to looking at ways to improve and do things better right off the bat, most people will get on board with this easily enough but a key stumbling block down the road to improvement down the road is being ignored at the outset. People generally agree on being better as long as it refers to others. In other words, the change required to be better requires that other members on the team adjust and work more like us. “Then we’d have a homogenous team and we’d be better because people would be more like me. And I work and act this way because it’s comfortable and what I’m willing to give to the work I do.”
However, if you ask everyone at the outset if there is a willingness to change in order to become better, then the starting basis for any further discussion is that everyone has to change to a lesser or greater degree, but change there will be. Now it might appear academic that to do better and be better, change is a given. Don’t make that assumption! From my experience, the world change itself is pretty open to interpretation. To some, ‘change’ could mean a minor adjustment to which they can point and say, “See, I changed.” To someone sitting right beside that person, their idea of change is nothing less than a massive overhaul that looks completely new and different.
It’s therefore a good idea anytime change is being discussed to determine a shared definition and understanding of the word, ‘change’. Failing to start with some shared comprehension of change can result in people eventually disagreeing on the scope of change being proposed. So while one person thinks a change in office furniture means new desks going in exactly the same locations as the old office furniture, another person sees new furniture, and an opportunity to change the layout itself to something different and in their view better.
We can do better. That was the opening premise. Okay so now that you have a discussion about getting your people all on board with the fact that to better, it goes hand in hand with change, the discussion moves to the question of how. This is where the fragile are going to lock down and resist change, because for some, the instinctive thing to do is protect whatever it is that we hold most dear. Will being better mean doing things differently? Yes. Will doing things differently mean I’ll be uncomfortable, giving up or sharing control, maybe being displaced altogether? Maybe that occurs, but not necessarily. Remember, some people think change is a good thing; as long as we’re talking about other people.
We can do better; we choose not to. This is the complaint consumers, customers and clients often have of the services and goods they receive from organizations. Ironically, listening to consumers, customers and clients is at the very heart of what should drive change. Yet, there are countless examples of organizations and teams of people who plan in isolation, designing and implementing what they believe to be best for these groups only to find they’ve missed the mark.
Choosing to do better usually but not always involves an outlay of cash. This outlay of cash should be seen as an investment in the people who will benefit from the way in which your team or your organization changes. If that new office furniture makes the employees perform safer and more efficient work; if there are less injuries because the design itself becomes more ergonomically friendly, then less time away from the job due to injury improves the customer service experience. Go for it.
So does your team acknowledge that it can be better? Is everyone on board with change as a necessary requirement in order for the improvement to occur? Does everyone have a shared understanding of what change itself implies as it may apply to them and how they do things at present?
These are some of the necessary questions at the early stages in the process of improving. One of the worst things that an organization or team can do is decide in isolation on change, then implement changes on other people without properly involving them in the process. This is the classic; “We know what’s best for you and don’t need your input” approach. Sometimes it works, more often it doesn’t.
As a member of your team and the larger organization, look for opportunities to improve; talk with your customers, consumers and clients, listen to their ideas. Embrace change as inevitable to doing business and be receptive to learning new methods of delivery.