Harvest is right around the corner. For many this means pausing on initiatives that were started throughout the year and preparing for the busy season, knowing that we will pick back up on those same initiatives…after harvest.
Changes are coming……AFTER harvest. There is a potential merger…..after harvest. We are implementing a new system…..after harvest. We are changing the way we service our customers…..after harvest. Once we get through the busy season we will move forward with the changes we have been planning for throughout the year.
A Cautionary Tale
We recently worked with a client going through a merger. The leaders of both businesses spent OVER A YEAR talking about and planning for the merger. As the merger had not been approved, they could not share the information with employees. Once the merger was approved, they were ready to hit the ground running – it’s what they were preparing for, planning for, working towards for the past year. Does this sound familiar?
As leaders, we spend months thinking about and preparing for upcoming changes. We have discussions with our boards. We meet with other businesses for a merger. We work with vendors to implement a new system.
Our heads are already in the change and we are ready to implement. When harvest ends we begin talking with employees about what they need to do to implement the change. We share with employees what we expect of them, what they need to do differently, and what skills they need to learn.
And then we get surprised and frustrated when we get questions, when employees drag their feet or push back. We can see the good on the other side of this change, why can’t they?
Let Employees Catch Up
While we have spent time thinking about, talking about, and planning for this change our teams have not. They have been focusing on their work – what they need to accomplish every day. They are not ready to implement the change because they don’t yet fully understand it.
We, as leaders, tend to communicate based on where we are – and by the time we are communicating changes to our teams we are ready to implement and move forward. But our teams are not where we are.
They are at the beginning of the change. They are where we were a year ago. How were you feeling about this change a year ago, or six months ago? What questions were you asking then? Put yourself in their shoes.
Pause on communication about implementing the change. Start communicating about the change. What is the change? Why are we doing it? Why are we doing this now? What are the benefits? What is the risk of not changing? Once employees understand why the changes are being made, they can begin the journey with us.
Employees will still struggle. Change is hard. Change, even good change, has some type of loss. The loss of the comfort of knowing what to expect. The loss of confidence in servicing customers in the same way. The loss of expertise in using the system or no longer being the go-to person. But these changes, the losses, will be smoother when employees understand the why.
So, How Did the Merger Go?
It was a large undertaking. The merger included an entirely new business name and structure AND the implementation of a new system used by all employees. We worked with the client to plan and communicate with leaders and employees, providing information to bring them along the journey. We worked with the leaders to stay connected with employees, to understand where employees were on that journey, and what information and support was needed to keep them moving in the right direction.
The merger was more successful than expected. Their first year the newly formed company exceeded expectations, and the employees that expressed concern and hesitancy at first are now onboard with the direction.
Of course, with any business, change is constant, and they continue to use the tools and resources we shared as they continue to implement these changes.
As they say “the only thing constant is change.”
If you are implementing changes “after harvest” or see changes on the horizon, let’s talk about what you can do to support your team in making the change successful.