Everyone knows that any organizational change must happen from the top down to be successful. Yet, so many change initiatives fail. First, everyone knows that the change is hard. Second, everyone knows they need to mimic the right behaviors – the behaviors of the organization’s leadership. In short, leadership needs to walk the walk and talk the talk, and actually partake and engage in the change.
Change management should be easier. I know there are all types of methods, philosophies, training and consulting specifically on how to implement and sustain change. But how could any company change anything if management does not actually use the new process, tool or methodology as part of the change? Now, I can hear change management specialists grumbling that I don’t know what I am talking about. But I still think it should be easier.
I worked for a large global company and consulted many others over the years. What I know now is that when management embraces something new, effectively communicates the benefits, and is passionate about the success of the implementation, things get done. Period. It’s just that simple.
Years ago, I worked with a firm that was implementing a new CRM. To hold everyone accountable to the success of the implementation, based on the fact that they had paid millions for it and wanted to reap the outcomes of their investment, the CEO did the following:
- He communicated the importance of the CRM and highlighted the benefits to all.
- He published globally, by divisional head, the adoption rates.
- He then listed the top 5 and the bottom 5 adoption rates. The top 5 were highlighted in green and the bottom 5 were highlighted in red. No one wanted to be in the bottom 5 “red zone.”
- He had his operations group create dashboards for all levels of management, including himself, which all rolled up and down. Whenever anyone talked about accounts, deals or forecasting, management pulled up the dashboards and drilled into the relevant details. Not everyone knew about the adoption report, but everyone knew that management had dashboards and used them. It was that easy.
So leadership, think about it. Why would anyone change their behavior if they think leadership could care less? When leadership walks the walk, you have a much better chance to get the return on investment on your much-needed tool, process or methodology with very little downside.
Now I know there is much more to change management than leadership mimicking the right behaviors. However, whereas it may not help with all aspects of change management, it sure as heck can’t hurt.
Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter