Know when you can’t stay stagnant. When we made our change, it was because I looked back and asked, ‘Have we grown in all areas as a company?’ I was looking not only in areas of capability, capacity and profitability, but as a whole and wondering if our behavior as an organization was any different than it was in the two or three years previous, and the answer was no.
That meant that what we were doing wasn’t working. I made a decision at that time to hire a consultant in-house, and his entire focus is to facilitate and monitor our change in management style. He’s an organizational psychologist, and his role is making sure we’re heading in that direction.
Convince your staff through your conviction. The first thing I had to establish with people is conviction that I was convinced about this new direction so that came through open dialogue and statements to both groups and individuals. We set up a number of town-home meetings internally and we talked about it, and I opened the floor to what people thought about it.
That was one where people understood that I was convinced in leading them in this direction. The other thing was making the commitment. I know it’s difficult to change paradigms and behaviors within a 12-month period, so I’ve committed three years, and it’s not going to be short-term in any fashion.
And it may go beyond that, but three years will give us a good basis for the fundamentals to move forward.
Give employees a chance to make the change. We built the curriculum and we have built the format of how we move forward, but we’re all adults here, so it’s really up to the individuals to agree and to grow in their commitment and conviction, and that happens fairly easily when people see results. So we’ve seen some strong results in their behavior as people are getting excited about the change.
We never take the attitude that someone can’t change. We don’t say one person can change and the other one can’t. We give everyone the opportunity, and let them make the decision. Really, they will put themselves out it if they don’t want to make the change; it has little to do with us.
Be prepared to lose some staff in the transition. The challenge we have is people who are adamant about not changing. We use the analogy, ‘If we’re all going to Chicago, and you want to go to Nashville, you’re on the wrong bus. So if that doesn’t interest you, you better get off the bus now, because we’re going to Chicago.’
We’ve had a few of those, so we don’t make it mandatory that people attend meetings. But what I always tell people is ‘These aren’t mandatory meetings, this is not a mandatory initiative. But if you don’t either you decide you do not want to or you can’t change, then most likely you won’t be in here in three years.’
That’s not a threat, that’s just a fact of where we’re going. It comes to a point where it would be almost impossible to remediate some individuals, and most likely, those individuals will have to leave the organization.
Get new perspective to help make decisions. We have internal committees and each one meets twice a month, and we change members of those committees by about 20 percent every six months, so we have constant fresh perspective, and constant change and cross input for our organization.
We have changed our facility so that we have a large training facility here, so that group is identifying curriculum for a three- to four-year program. From a knowledge base, we will be updated consistently to stay on the cutting edge.
We also are working out a deal with a university so that all of our people can continue their education to keep every end of the business looking at different things. We’re served better in all of our deals if we keep people thinking about new things.
The boost will be that we will be more efficient from not only a standpoint of production but from our thought process and decision-making.
Communicate your victories. What we were experiencing was a lot of people within our organization digging their heals in, waiting for the company to revert back to the way it’s been. Now, after 12 months, they’re coming to the understanding, because of the results, that it’s good for us as an organization and good for them as an individual.
We have a committee that works with the internal consultant, and they work on getting people to simply communicate openly and honestly without fear of retribution, without fear of negative feedback from the company. It’s helping, because change for any human is very difficult, and it’s a difficult thing to ask of someone, so change can occur more easily when there is open communication.
And open communication, we believe, establishes trust. We seek to understand each other. And, in doing so, we hope to bring more value by communicating more information to them so they can see our direction and see how successful it will be.
HOW TO REACH: Garcia Construction Group, (317) 254-3240 or www.gmconstruction.com