One of the most common things I get asked is how to get staff to change the way they work. Typically you, as the owner of your firm, struggle with their attitude to what you see as obvious. The reality is that you have (perhaps grudgingly) learnt to deal with the pace of change outside your firm and the fact that this means changing working practices inside the firm. Ever asked yourself “how to get my team to change how they work“, or even how they look at the world?
The biggest changes happen all around us, every year. I’ve recently been enjoying the autumn; the trees have been changing from green to golden reds and yellow, the wildlife is scurrying around more as the weather cools and there is a big change in the air.
OK, we’ve been lucky to have some late summer sun as well. I love the autumn, but many people don’t! To many people it’s a reminder that the summer has gone and that the winter will soon bite; or perhaps they just don’t like change?
That’s one of the big things about changing seasons, and change more generally, we all see it differently. In your firm you’ll see change differently to your team, knowing that is important when trying to get your team to accept change.
Why do you see change differently?
If you’ve ever been trying to change things (or are at the moment) you were probably very aware of what made the change necessary. Perhaps you became aware of the impact of things like:
- Cloud accounting needing you to use new systems (let alone what it means to clients)
- Changes to government funding (e.g. legal aid) at the same time as pressure on fees
Ever increasing professional indemnity insurance premiums,
- Changing client demands
- Social media meaning changes to the way marketing happens (even if you don’t use Social Media)
- Increasing pressures to become a more niche practice, so you can deal with some of the challenges and market yourself more effectively
- I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture
If you are like the owners of most small firms there was a bit (large or small) of you that initially didn’t want to change, hoped it would go away and that you could ignore it. It probably felt uncomfortable, but not as uncomfortable as when you really started to work through what it meant for your firm. It’s like moving from summer to autumn and then winter.
After that things tend to improve as you understood the changes, started to think about implementing them and recognised their benefits; it’s like moving from winter to spring.
Key point: You’re in a different place to your team
As the “agent of change” (apologies for the dreadful term, but it is relevant) in your firm, you are in a different place to the rest of your team. You have
- seen the need
- gone through the pain and uncertainty
- you’re now up for it
Where most professionals go wrong is not realising that their staff need to go through this cycle as well. Until they catch up with you and are up for it, they will resist the change. So don’t spend your time demanding change, help them see the need, help deal with their uncertainty and then they will be up for it. It’s a cycle you went through too.
The view from the bottom of a firm is often “We don’t see the need for changing what we do and anyway he can’t be serious about it, as he’s still doing things the same way as before.”
Returning to the seasonal analogy; as the leader, you are a season ahead of your team. Just because it’s sunny where you are, doesn’t mean that they aren’t shivering in a cold dark winter.
When people stop fearing the change and focusing on what was, they are more able to focus on what’s not changing (the constants) and the good things that will come along soon. Download our fact sheet on change, it's free and waiting for you to download right now. Click here for instant access (email address required).
How do you help your team accept the constant change that is business?