“If your business isn’t growing, it’s dead” is something I’ve heard from more than a few business leaders. However, I think it’s more accurate to say that if your business isn’t changing, it’s dead.
Change doesn’t have to mean growth, although it often does.
This month is our Smart Women issue, in preparation for the Smart Women Breakfast that will be held on Sept. 1. I tried to include as many women as I could in the magazine, and I even put together a feature on the first woman who ran for president for the Uniquely Columbus.
I also spoke to our Smart Women panelists — Jenn McClain-De Jong, Mary Navarro, Elaine Roberts, Phyllis Teater and Susan Gueli — on the event’s theme of intrapreneurship, which is just a fancy way of saying driving internal change through innovation. They have had a lot of experience as change agents, which I can’t wait to explore further at the event.
Understand the emotions
A few common themes emerged as I gathered information from these businesswomen. Communication is important — and this is something I’ve heard over and over again — but these female leaders were more willing to talk about the emotions behind a change.
They spoke about the importance of being direct and calm. You can’t get defensive or take it personally when people are upset. If you hear about a problem, confront the situation and the complainer head on. If you don’t understand the concerns behind the complaints, you may not be asking the right questions.
Several of them spoke about the importance of sharing the “why” behind the change, and then sharing it again and again until you’re tired of it. If you send out information about a change, and then an update a few weeks later, you have to assume this is the first time people are hearing about it.
Transparency is always good, but it seems to be particularly important during times of change. Your employees need to feel like they are part of the process. No one likes to be dictated down upon.