Leading change is fraught with risks and potential land mines. We have watched many careers get derailed, and many organizations take a long time to recover from costly and avoidable mistakes during change initiatives that went off track.

One of the first change initiatives we were involved in occurred during the merger of two major home improvement retailers along the East Coast. The initiatives focused on a blunting strategy to compete with The Home Depot as they entered dozens of Mid-Atlantic markets with the goal of saving $50 million.

The Executive team presented their case for change in their top markets during town hall meetings with the hope of everyone understanding and getting behind the cost saving measures in order to effectively and successfully compete. The measures included cutting payroll dramatically corporately and at the store level, eliminating retirement contributions and profit sharing, reducing benefits while increasing employee contributions and more.

During one of the meetings, an employee mustered up the courage to ask the panel, “…if after making all of these sacrifices for me and my family just to be competitive, are y’all [the Executive team] willing to give up your country club memberships and your fancy cars?” There was no response from the leadership panel, and we awkwardly moved on. You could feel the air literally being sucked out of the room.

How well do you think the employees embraced the changes after that point?

How successful do you think they were against the competition?

How successful do you think the merger was implemented?

Examples, like this one, happen all too frequently. It is easy to see in other organizations, but not always so apparent when you are doing it as a leader in your own organization.

If you are launching a change initiative, you better be prepared to cut from the top first. Then, when things go well, reward the bottom first.

Leaders go first, but eat last…

…meaning they set the tone. They model the change they want to see, and they reward the efforts of those on the front lines first. Only then, does the leader earn his portion.

If you are not willing to do this, then do not attempt to launch a change initiative or be faced with creating a cynical, resentful workforce.

Sometimes it is valuable to have an objective advisor by your side to guide you. We see things you may not be able to see, or people within your organization might not be willing to point out. Avoid derailing your train of momentum or avoid stepping on the land mine described above, as well as some of the less obvious pitfalls that exist through change.

 

Tech. Sgt. Jason Wells, 28th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician, removes debris from a controlled explosion at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., June 11, 2008. The training exercise was conducted to help EOD technicians maintain their improvised explosive device disposal skills. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Matthew Flynn)(Released)

Want more evidence? Before you start a change initiative on your own, here are 3 reasons why it is worth a quick conversation with Brookestone Associates first:

  1. Avoid costly mistakes others have already made. Why fall into traps other leaders have already made? The best leaders learn from the mistakes of others, and we can show you how to avoid the non-obvious land mines that offer nasty surprises to executives when they lead change.
  1. Get momentum on your side quickly. We have seen many organizations get bogged down in change efforts that go nowhere. This causes employees to feel stressed, become cynical, and the best talent to head for the exits. There are proven strategies to build momentum during change, and there are also wrong ways to get change processes moving. We know the difference and we can show you the most effective path to results.
  1. Take a comprehensive approach to change, so you’re not blindsided by unanticipated consequences. In any change process, you will hear from many voices in your organization. Each often sees a piece of the puzzle, and not the whole system. If one dominates the conversation about change, you might end up making short-sighted decisions. We can help you take a more systematic approach to change, so the change endures, enrolls key people throughout the organization, and leads to ongoing improvements in performance and results all while preserving key relationships.

Brookestone Associates brings you a proven methodology for leading change that is non-intrusive and that helps you accelerate results – without making costly mistakes that others tend to make. It takes just a few minutes to assess whether, or not we can bring value to you and your team. Your risk is the opportunity to learn more. Want to know more? Call us today at 205-582-4100 or click here to schedule a convenient time to discuss. In the meantime, please download our no-cost Change Assessment here.

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