Wireless retail is no stranger to change. Companies that rise to the top are ones who embrace the change and have a sound process in place for change management. This will be evident in the coming months as businesses open back up and adjustments are made to accommodate new expectations of customers. How does someone master change and what steps are necessary to achieve success?
This is obvious and always the first on the list. This time around, with the current climate, a sound communication strategy will make or break companies as they work to reopen and encourage business to come back.
Communication is the informational piece of the change management strategy that helps everyone understand what is changing and why, and how it will specifically affect them. It ensures team members receive consistent information about what is important to them, and provides a process to share feedback and ask questions.
Whether you are making a change in business practice, technology, leadership or a combination of those, communication is essential to helping your team move from where they are today to the desired “future state.”
If you consider how many e-mails and messages your business driving employees receive each day, are they in a position where if they don’t check e-mail all the time they get behind? Are your busiest days focused on driving profits, or filled with general communication just like any other day?
If your organization is running a “Shotgun” communication strategy, we recommend starting to shift towards a more structured and consolidated approach. A “Shotgun” style, while some argue is flexible, is likely impacting your ability to change and your performance. Back-office employees communicating to hit their own initiatives, communicating when they have the time, and not thinking through the impact messages will have on sales or employee overload derails any long term planning . Sales reps who check emails frequently while trying to keep up with new requests from multiple people will lose focus on activities that are driving sales.
As your organization grows, so do the initiatives of your employees and timing plays a big role in how well you adapt to change as an organization. It’s possible that you’re jeopardizing sales at the cost of keeping leaders and support teams “busy”. Do you view yourself as a Jet ski or a ship? Jet skis can maneuver in any direction anytime, but it takes a lot of organization to steer a ship.
Having multiple directives from multiple people can quickly send your team in different directions. Working to maintain a consistent focus on business value or items with specific deadlines allows teams to prioritize those tasks first and then rank and complete other directives as time permits.
It’s important to have the right parties prioritizing the communication, too. For instance, a non-revenue driving department determining priorities for a sales team may not flow with how those parts of the business need to be managed.
For instance, Acme launched a mandatory training that would disable any user who did not complete it by the end of the week. This was quickly followed up with 3 new messages about updated payroll process, a marketing campaign and a new product line that was available. This “firedrill” could ruin weekend sales without an effective process in place. With change management, the top level change drivers work to agree on priority number one and communicate that priority along with where other tasks should fall. With a sound process in place, team’s know the training will be that week’s focus and can then prioritize or assign the other items as the week’s schedule allows.
Implementing long-lasting change requires support. By ensuring that leaders in the organization are aware of what’s coming next, you open the door for first responder push-back and questions. This ensures all parties have a chance to be as prepared as they can be. For big initiatives, we recommend having a team lead or trainer in place to help ensure each district or team grabs an initiative and pushes it across the finish line. Additionally, one of the most valuable aspects of change management is the opportunity to use new technologies to train and motivate your high-performing associates.
Track and Manage Accountability
If you launched an initiative and then didn’t talk about it for the next few weeks, you wouldn’t get very far. To prevent this it is important to have success criteria and the ability to track those specific metrics. This ensures what gets tracked is being measured and not just talked about. It also creates focus areas because if everything is important, nothing is important.
Spending a little extra time creating an accountability process and reporting cadence pays dividends in the end and dramatically impacts the success of the changes being made. It is recommended that this is always a high priority for big initiatives.
Many companies make changes based on financial or tangible data without a “system” to identify value and risk. Without looking to their people or reviewing current processes, businesses take a major risk when going to implement change. Leadership must always be aware and ensure their organization can navigate change. Communication and a system to manage change is the key in wireless retail. Only the smart survive and the smart ones are using effective change management strategies.