We’ve already declared 2017 as the “Year of Execution,” and even talked about some powerful ways to break old habits and form new ones for success. Today, we’re going to cover the 5 things you need to do to implement new strategies as the leader of a team.
It’s one thing for you as the business owner to see the changes you need to make in your business, but what if you’re not alone in the business?
Large ships don’t turn around quickly, and neither do teams.
You need to have a game plan for introducing the new strategies you want to implement and how to manage the powerful forces of change among your team.
Here are 5 steps you need to take in order to implement new strategies into your business successfully.
1. Map it out.
It all starts with a white canvas and you. Your task: Write out the future for your business and how you intend to get there.
Start with these foundational questions:
- What exactly is the new strategy?
- Why does it need to be implemented?
- What results are we looking for?
- When should we begin seeing those results if our team is running optimally?
- Who will be responsible for the various phases of the new strategy?
- Who will be the key communicator of the new strategy?
You don’t have to be the only one mapping out the future—but keep the leadership group small to avoid endless discussions and fruitless meetings.
It’s important that you choose visionary, strategically minded leaders for this phase.
Leaders who are amazing at implementation or everyday management may not perform so well given the task to dream about the future causing the leadership team to bog down and lose morale.
2. Present the change to your team with care—no one accepts change all at once.
After you’ve mapped it out, it’s time to introduce your team to the new strategy and how it’s going to work out (as best as you and the leadership team can determine).
Now before you gather your troops in the break room and announce the new strategy, take into account that none of us can accept big changes all at once.
All of us go through a fairly predictable emotional pattern when we’re presented with a change—and these are the emotions you’ll need to help your people navigate as you introduce the new strategy.
This emotional journey is captured in what’s called the Kübler-Ross Change Curve.
Some of your team will go through the emotions on the curve quickly. Others may take more time to process their emotions through it.
As a leader, you need to listen to the emotional cues of your team and help each one make it through the curve to get to full implementation among the team.
For some, you’ll only need to start their training sessions. For others, you may have to have one-on-one conversations. So if a team member doesn’t jump on board immediately, don’t assume they’re a bad apple that needs to be thrown out.
Here are some quick tips on introducing new strategies to your team.
- Fully describe what it will be like if there is no change made—make sure they see clearly how the problems they face today necessitate the change.
- Highlight how these business problems are causing problems for employees. An easy example: Low sales numbers means low commission revenue for sales team members.
- Explain where the company will go if we keep doing the same thing we’ve always done.
- Describe what can happen if we implement the change and make a new future.
- Explain the change in broad strokes at first, staying out of the minutia in the first meeting, and then spell out the details in subsequent meetings.
- Make the next steps abundantly clear. Uncertainty will kill any chance you have to execute on your new strategy.
3. Train your team.
This should go without saying, but it is astounding how many business owners push their team into new strategies, technologies, or methods without investing time and money into training.
Taking the time—and yes! money— to properly train your team will pay off big dividends later. Without training, whatever investment you do make in the new strategy will die on the vine, or at best, produce so much less than you expected.
4. Measure your progress.
Choose the metrics that you’ll use to track your progress during the change. These will be important for two main reasons:
- You’ll know if you’re succeeding or not. We’ve all followed a leader who thought what they were doing was successful, but in reality, it was a complete mess. Don’t be that leader! By measuring the results of the new strategy, you’ll know right away if the new strategy is perfect as is, needs to be tweaked, or if you need to scrap it entirely.
- You’ll be able to show your success to your team. And as the saying goes, “Nothing breeds success like success.” When your team sees the growing success of your new strategy, they’ll have more faith in the change and put even more of their effort into it.
Decide what results you want to see from the new strategy, identify measurable events or activity that would show progress towards those results, and report, report, report!
5. Reevaluate, revise, and re-engage.
Having the data you’re tracking, you’ll be able to decide what’s working and what’s not. You’ll be able to make decisions to revise your strategy and redeploy it.
Don’t let your new strategy go on autopilot—that’s a sure way to kill any change.
Your team will eventually scrap the new strategy and revert to the old one they’re familiar with.
You must navigate the change by examining the results you’re measuring and taking the necessary next steps.
One last thing: Navigating change is the hallmark of a good leader.
Keep brushing up on your leadership skills with good books, classes, workshops, seminars, and networking with other leaders.
The better your leadership skills, the better you’ll be at implementing new strategies into your business.
So here’s to 2017, the year of execution!
Now, go grow your business.