Guiding Your Self-Storage Company Through Major Changes
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
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Posted on: 08/06/2011



 

By Danita Johnson Hughes

These days, it seems the words “business” and “change” go hand in hand. From dealing with regulatory changes and economic shifts to responding to new customer demands and emerging technologies, sudden and externally mandated changes affect companies of all sizes.

When change is forced upon you, making the shift is often more stressful and difficult than when you thoughtfully decide to take your company in a new direction. After all, making a change that you plan for is exciting and filled with opportunity, while making a change due to outside forces is filled with risk and unpredictability.

Unfortunately, most organizations resist these externally mandated changes and are slow to respond. They fear the risk involved and, as a result, they miss many opportunities. Change under external circumstances is scary because you often don’t know if the modifications you’re making are going to work. Additionally, the change may mean you have to alter your company’s values or culture, and those sorts of alterations don’t come easy.

Embracing any type of externally motivated change requires courage and planning. Following are suggestions for making the process easier and more successful.

Assess Your Company’s Talent Potential

When dealing with externally motivated change, a good leader needs the emotional maturity to maximize and leverage the strengths of the people within the company. Take the time to assess the people who work for you and the skill sets they have, and then determine how the company can best use them to make the change successful. Most employers overlook the talent that’s right under their nose and think they need to look outside for the skills necessary to move the company forward. Chances are some of your employees will have developed new abilities and strengths since originally hired.

Hire People Who Know More Than You Do

Often those charged with staffing don’t want to hire anyone who’s strong, assertive or more knowledgeable than they are. They think these new hires will make them look bad, or worse, take their job. In reality, if you hire people who are strong and know more than you do, you’re going to fare better during the change process. Realize that when the company does well, everyone looks good, not just one person. However, if the organization fails, people typically look for one person to blame—usually the leader. The only way your company can sustain its momentum during and after the change is to have strong people on board.

Encourage Continuous Learning

The knowledge you and your people possess has long-term value for the company. If you stop learning, you stop having the ability to contribute to the continued development of the organization. Learning is vital, because things change so quickly—technology, the industry, the marketplace, etc. You have to keep up and know what’s current to stay relevant to customers.

Encourage your staff to attend seminars, read books, stay abreast of industry news, and seek internal feedback and mentoring. The more learning opportunities people have, the more valued they’ll feel, and the more they’ll want to contribute to the change process.

Hold People to Commitments

No change will ever be complete if people abandon their responsibilities midstream. You need to hold employees accountable for their commitments. First, make sure they have the skills to do the job. If they don’t, there’s no way they’ll be successful. Then monitor their progress and evaluate how they’re contributing (or not) to the change process.

Realize that monitoring doesn’t mean micro-managing. It simply means keeping the pulse of the whole work flow to ensure all the pieces of the process fit together and are getting done. When you find someone isn’t contributing effectively, you must be willing to confront the person and deal with the problem in a constructive way that gets the work back on track.

Be Clear, Consistent and Continuous

You have to be clear and consistent about the change, what’s occurring, what needs to occur, and the vision and goals for the company. Spell out where the company is going as well as the plan to get there. When you’re not clear or consistent, your message gets garbled and people don’t understand it. That’s when problems happen and change becomes risky. You think you’re communicating one thing, but no one understands your real message so they pull in a different direction. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Also, don’t just relay the message once. You have to consistently revisit it and make sure everyone is still on board. Allow people to ask questions and, if possible, contribute to the message. People buy into an idea more easily if they feel they took part in shaping it.

Approach Change Proactively

Change that’s mandated from outside factors is often uncomfortable, but this doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. In fact, when approached correctly, this sort of change can open your eyes to new possibilities, customer bases, revenue streams, and even product and service offerings.

Tackle these externally influenced changes proactively and you’ll have the upper hand. Not only will you fare better than your competitors during the change, but you’ll also emerge as the marketplace leader. That’s one change you’ll definitely welcome.

Danita Johnson Hughes, Ph.D., is a healthcare industry executive, public speaker and author of the forthcoming Turnaround. Through her work, she inspires people to dream big and understand the role of personal responsibility in personal and professional success. For more information, e-mail danitahughes@edgewatersystems.org; visit www.danitajohnsonhughes.com .