You’ve identified a process that is substandard, now, how do you drive the change necessary to improve it? You may picture the road to change as complex and littered with detail but to achieve the desired improvements you need to initially focus on just the business impact. When you’re successful selling an idea internally, resources will be allocated, and the seemingly complex roadblocks will begin to melt away.
Be the salesperson
Whether you’re a manager or individual contributor, the methodology to turn frustration into long-term enhancements is exactly the same. If you’re trying to change a process specific to your job or team, you need to be the main advocate internally. Why? Most everyone else does not understand how difficult or painful the process is because they do not live it day-to-day. Upper management’s insight is only as good as what employees share with them.
Most everyone else does not understand how difficult or painful the process is because they do not live it day-to-day.
Remove the complexity
Explanations about process breakdowns tend to be overly complex. Often they are centered on an edge case, where the setup takes five minutes to explain. Something that is in dire need of improvement can be boiled down to three to five concise sentences. If you’re struggling with this, try formatting your explanation like the following:
“Our top clients need X. In order to provide them X, we have to do Y. Often Y delays the process because of Z. Can we talk about ways to make Y more efficient to better service clients?”
If you find that you’re still unable to condense the issue, there might be another issue to consider or the change isn’t needed. Which brings us to…
Make sure change is needed
A process that only fails a small percent of the time is a great one. If you focus your energy on trying to explain/fix things that fail on an insignificant basis, you will be seen as a problem instead of a solution. Save your energy for processes that repeatedly break down and you’ll be significantly more effective.
Save your energy for processes that repeatedly break down…
This is by far the most difficult aspect of advocating for change but it is the most critical. A process breakdown will leave even the most level-headed employee frustrated. However, the most successful people remove their feelings from the situation to influence a fix. If this is difficult for you, take a day to decompress and then address the issue with the necessary parties. Remember, the goal here is to prove business impact. Ranting and raving about how upset the situation made you will only take you farther from your goal.
…the most successful people remove their feelings from the situation to influence a fix.
Quantify the change
Take these two statements:
- I spend way too much time sending clients emails that could be automated.
- I spend 30 minutes a day (30 clients X 1 minute) sending templated emails that should be automated. If I had an extra half hour in my day I could call more unmanaged, at-risk clients to help mitigate churn.
Which one are you more motivated to act upon?
Assuming you picked the second one, notice how it uses each of the previous tips in the post. It tells the recipient the value in change, it’s easy to understand, it demonstrates that there is a real issue and it’s devoid of emotion. By applying these keys to process improvements, you’ll be able to frame the problems correctly and drive lasting improvements in your organization.