Entrepreneurs are definitely a special breed. I like to say that being an entrepreneur is both a blessing and curse. We think and move at lightening speed, we aren’t afraid to take risks, and we can virtually see into the future. In fact, our vision at times seems so crystal clear that we often wonder why no one else can see what we see. We implement change and then it’s quickly on to the next initiative. We add and subtract, we move this here and that over there. Employees in our companies who resist change hate how we operate, and find it hard to keep up with our pace. The only time we’re really comfortable (and understood) it seems is when we are around other entrepreneurs.
Just recently, after a string of bad hires in my company which cost us dearly on so many levels, we decided to re-engineer our recruiting and hiring strategy. Okay, who am I kidding? I decided to re-engineer our recruiting and hiring strategy. There it is again, that pesky entrepreneurial attitude that rears its head like a race horse ready to bust through the starting gates at the sound of the gun.
I’ll keep going, so bear with me. The basis of our new strategy was to simply slow down and be more thorough in our interviewing, creating a six-step process to carefully evaluate candidates and find people who share our core values and company purpose.
Since we have strong relationships with area cosmetology schools, we literally interview hundreds of applicants from these schools every three to four months. To support this new approach, I had this brilliant idea to utilize one of my favorite apps to date, Evernote, to help us facilitate our efforts every step of the way. I remember it so vividly, standing in my shower where it seems like most of my ideas come to me. Like a bolt of lightening, this new vision of how the whole thing would work struck me out of nowhere. Everything was crystal clear. I knew exactly how it was going to work. Amped up like I had just had five cups of coffee, I made it into work later that morning and immediately started changing everything. I created the new system in Evernote, and I started telling everyone on my team how it was going to work. I expected everyone to be onboard, totally engaged and excited about my new idea. Almost immediately, everyone was confused. Not only were they frustrated, but so was I! I kept asking myself, “How can something so simple, be so hard to understand?” “What’s wrong with these people?” “Why can’t they see what I see?” These are the questions that entrepreneurs grapple with when implementing change.
I almost caused my Human Resource manager to have a nervous breakdown without even realizing it. It wasn’t until I saw her emotions in a very exasperating conversation that I realized that I was trying to ram rod this amazing idea I had into place without taking into consideration other factors for the process to work. Here’s what I learned out of all of this. Allow me to share four key points to consider when implementing change in your company:
- Slow down and allow others to catch up
What we owners typically forget is that we’re usually six months ahead of the rest of the pack. We’ve already had time to think and process the changes that we want to happen. When we introduce our ideas and change initiatives to our teams, we have to allow them time to process the information and catch up.
- Share and then listen to what others have to say
Just because we think we have an amazing idea doesn’t mean that it’s the only idea that should be used. Tap into the brain power of your team. Often times they might share your vision but have an even better way to execute. When this happens, you might be surprised how fast your vision becomes a reality because you now have team members who are just as excited as you.
- Frustration is often part of the process
Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Change is hard. It’s human nature to want to stay comfortable. Understand that when we initiate change, it requires energy. Part of the change and learning process is frustration amongst those that are involved. Think of it as a type of sorting process where we must “sort” through the information, process it so we can figure out where it needs to go and where we fit into the new model. If you go into it knowing that there will be frustration, you’ll be better prepared to handle the process.
- Be prepared to communicate your vision over and over again – Why? What? How? and What if?
This ties nicely into #3. To overcome frustration, be prepared to communicate your idea to those who will help you make it a reality. This is where we must put our sales hat on and sell our team on what we’re trying to accomplish. Help them see how it will benefit them, the clients and the business. If it’s a better way to do things, communicate how it will look. Paint a picture for everyone to see. If you can answer WHY this important, WHAT it is that you’re trying to accomplish, HOW the whole thing will work, and IF we do this, then we will enjoy these things; you’ll move much more quickly and with less resistance.
Your turn: What was the last entrepreneurial “Ah ha” moment you had? How hard was it to implement the change or idea that you had? Where did you get stuck? How did you overcome objections?