By: Greg Slamowitz, co-founder of Ambrose
Change is a part of life.
However, a lot of people simply are not comfortable with change, and this has nothing to do with the organizational chart. It’s human nature. There are people from all levels of the enterprise that have a hard time with change, emotionally and/or intellectually
For our first 12 years or so in business, there was very little change at Ambrose. All change had to originate from the “top”, was micromanaged, and was plagued with analysis paralysis and fear of failure. Change, whether strategic or tactical, was a difficult, tortuous, emotional and intellectual process for us. So people (including me) gave up and stopped trying to change anything.
This is not good for an organization. Forward-thinking, creative, solutions-oriented people will mentally and physically opt-out of this type of environment and without them your business will simply not evolve or improve.
Change is good for the enterprise. Business leaders need to create an organizational culture and environment that supports, encourages and embraces change. They need to make change easier and more comfortable for people.
However, before an organization can embrace change, leadership needs a mind shift. Leaders need to accept that change should not be dictated from the top through command and control. This approach is slow, laborious and inefficient. It requires brute force. You don’t want that.
Instead, change should percolate from throughout the company and come from everywhere – even unexpected places. Everyone in the enterprise should be participating.
Leadership doesn’t have a lock on good ideas or on creative solutions. Leadership needs to ask a lot of questions and encourage other folks to come up with creative ideas. That is a leader’s job. If leadership has to think of or approve every change, the company will never get to its big goals.
Here is great example from Tony Hsieh’s book “Delivering Happiness:”
Let’s say we have five people on the senior management team. They each make one change a week for fifty weeks. That is 250 changes or improvements a year. Compare this to the situation where 100 individuals (all of your employees) each make one change or improvement per week – 5,000 changes and improvements per year.
Which company is going to win?
Leadership needs to step back and create a positive, supportive environment where folks are empowered, and expected, to engage in change. Leadership must then be prepared to step aside and watch change happen. But just how do leaders accomplish that? In my next post, I’ll look at the steps that business leaders can take to enable and encourage people throughout the company to effectuate change.
Greg Slamowitz is an entrepreneur and the co-founder and co-CEO of Ambrose, a professional employer organization (PEO). His work with Ambrose led to him receiving the 2001 Ernst & Young New York Entrepreneur of the Year award in the employment services category.
Prior to co-founding Ambrose in 1997, Greg practiced tax law for Brown & Wood (now Sidley Austin Brown & Wood). Greg holds two law degrees – a Master of Laws in Taxation from New York University School of Law, and a Juris Doctorate from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta.