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Become Friends with Change and Watch Your Struggles Dissipate

December 21, 20226 min read

No one likes to struggle.  With anything. 

So what can you do when you and your team are struggling to make progress and achieve a business goal?

First, become friends with change.

Welcoming change as a friend helps you recognize that change is not working against you, it’s working with you. 

With this mindset, you can relax and begin to see opportunities that you could not see in the midst of tension and frustration. Your struggle starts to dissolve into solutions.

So, how can this happen in real-time?  Here are two examples:

  1. Go from “Ugh, we have to fill these empty positions”, (a common challenge for business leaders right now), to imagining you were just given a 1st round pick in the next draft.  

  • You would certainly approach those two scenarios with a different perspective.  One is an obligation.  The other feels like a huge opportunity.  

  • Finding and selecting a 1st round draft pick would have you and your team looking in different places with a different level of hope, intensity, and potential.  (Not just posting blasé listings on the same old job boards and complaining that "...you can't find good people".)  

  • Also, asking different questions to qualify candidates you do identify.  

  • Turn the challenge of filling an open position into finding a game-changer for the team. 

  • They’re out there.  Be creative.  Be persistent.  Have fun with it.

  1. Budgeting vs. Profit Planning

  • “Budgeting” is not a favorite task for many.  

  • It’s often viewed as a difficult and time-consuming exercise. Filled with uncertainty, guesswork, prophecy, and administrative toil “getting the numbers to work”.  

  • And that’s all before you have to convince others, up and down the line, to accept what you’ve budgeted. 

  • Contrast that with “Profit Planning”.  Largely a similar exercise, but with a completely different mindset and intent.  

  • Rather than “finishing the budget”, you and your team are contemplating how to be more efficient, effective, and profitable than before, perhaps while, improving the customer experience and creating a “wow culture” for your team. 

  • You can choose to replace the administrative doldrums of budgeting with a noble calling for innovating new levels of success, energy, and efficiency that inspire your team and attract more profitable customers.

“Not befriending change, virtually ensures struggle.“

Articles published by both McKinsey and HBR cite that roughly 70% of change efforts struggle or fail.  

With such a dismal success record, it’s no wonder people widely believe that “Change is hard.”  It’s a common refrain or unspoken reaction almost every time the subject of change arises.

The sad truth is that when you approach anything with apprehension and reluctance, you usually get what you’re looking for. 

Understand why change efforts fail.

Here are some common missteps, or mistakes to avoid when leading change:

  1. Not really understanding the problem or situation.  

  • Either you misread it, and don’t fully understand the cause, or the lengths you’ll have to go for a lasting solution. 

  • As a result, you wind up dealing with reality when it finally becomes clear. 

  1. Applying the wrong solution.  

Without fully understanding the need to change you: 

  • Spring into action with a partial solution (deferring struggle out into the future).

  • Solve the wrong thing  (putting out smoke rather than fire).  Or,

  • Hastily apply a solution that makes things worse.

Like hiring the first person available.  The one who shows up with baggage, rather than finding your 1st round draft pick - the one who will help you to “make the playoffs”.

  1. Failing to invite or involve others.  

Sometimes we have to act fast and decisively as a leader.  It may seem that there’s no time for contemplation or building consensus.

Yet, to avoid the consequence of your own bias or blind spots (we all have them), it’s important and helpful to invite and involve key people in the process as you consider your options.  Even if briefly.  

  • Let them help you to understand the problem accurately, and together, see what changes are needed to succeed. 

  • They can then help to devise and implement solutions.  Which reduces resistance, and instead, enlists their support for the change.  Both now and in the future. 

This approach becomes a constructive model your team can follow for leading successful change and solving future problems.  

“Business is a team sport, and none of us are as good as all of us.”

What's the cost of continued struggle or failure, in time, money, and frustration?  Take some time to reflect on these (self-inflicted) reasons why “change is hard”.  

The results of that reflection could provide you with both insight and inspiration to improve your success with change in the future.

The biggest culprit of all…

These struggles are so common because most business leaders don’t have a reliable approach to lead successful change.  

Instead, they rely just on their experience and instinct when making changes in business and life. 

  • They likely have a process that works for marketing and sales. 

  • Others for accounting and business administration. 

  • Even processes for reliable product and service delivery.  

  • Yet, they've never developed a reliable approach for leading successful change.

This is a key blind spot for many business leaders.  

It doesn’t have to remain that way.    Change does not have to be hard. 

Changing Lanes Approach Summary

Three steps to start making change your friend:

  1. Be sure you fully understand the problem or challenge

  • Take a moment to write out the exact issue, the real causes, and the benefits of having it resolved.  

  • What it would mean to succeed?

  1. Write down your first instinct for a solution.  Ask:

  • Will it fully resolve the issue?   

  • Will it just make things better for a while?

  • Will it cause any more problems?

Then come up with two more alternatives.  

My belief: “There are at least 3 solutions for any problem.”

  1. Involve others.  Especially anyone who can help with the solution(s). 

  • Share your perspective on the real problem and ideas for solutions. 

  • Ask if they have anything to add, or see anything else that would clarify the issue and lead to a successful solution.

  • Agree on which alternative would work best.  How soon you should act?  And ideally, when it should be fully resolved.

  • If appropriate, ask for their help with leading or implementing the change.  All the way to completion.

Taking these three steps will help to overcome the uncertainty and apprehension that often accompany the prospect of change.

Adopting a mindset of "Change as a Friend", the way to get from where you are to where you want to be, will help you and your team welcome the challenge that leads to progress.

If you liked that, you may be interested in this:

A simple approach to lead successful change

There are 4 simple steps that business leaders can use to lead successful change with clarity and confidence.  To get from where they are to where they want to be.  And reliably create support for change, rather than having to struggle and overcome ongoing resistance.

The Changing Lanes for Business Coaching Program

Changing Lanes for Business Coaching Program

Learn 4 simple steps to lead successful change in just 4 weeks.

Make the change(s) you’d most like to see in your business right now.

And learn to lead successful change for the rest of your career.

Schedule a complimentary call to see how the Changing Lanes Coaching Program can help to achieve your business goals.

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Tim Rhode

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