With growth comes change — and that can be a hard pill to swallow
You’ve heard it before: “Capitalism — if you’re not growing, you’re dying.” And it’s true. Our firm has grown significantly over our 90+ years in business, so it probably doesn’t surprise you that we have some pretty ambitious growth goals. Growth is important when it comes to offering depth and new services to our clients, or attracting and providing additional opportunities for our staff to advance.
I’ve previously written about our world-class culture, and growth is certainly a significant part of that. In fact, I’m often asked by staff new to the firm, “Is growth a threat to our culture?” My answer is always the same: “No, the real threat to our culture is lack of growth.” In fact, we’ve had 50 consecutive years of growth; this has required us to change some of our processes along the way — which can be a hard pill to swallow.
The real threat to our culture is lack of growth.
One of the more recent changes we’ve gone through is a new partner practice development (PD) process that requires partners to be more active and accountable for their PD activity. Note that I don’t use the word “require” lightly, as it’s not a common word around our firm. We suggest a lot of things, provide guidance and recommendations, but ultimately, we leave decisions up to the individuals. To roll out this process effectively, however, we needed the participation of our nearly 300 partners, and participating meant changing. For that, we needed a strong change management process with a few key steps:
- The first was getting partner input and buy-in. When discussing a change like this, it’s important to make sure those in the room realize that the changes will apply to them, too — not just to the person sitting to their right and left. Painting a vision of how the change would help the firm and how we could all contribute to that success made partners want to support and stand behind the new process. And, we invited them to offer up their own ideas, which strengthened our vision and united us all toward one achievable goal.
- Then we needed to define success by creating measurable results and goals. We outlined responsibilities, along with rewards and consequences for those who didn’t follow through.
- Next, we developed a robust communication plan that included communication before, during, and after the change. Communicating keeps people informed, inspired and on track — while a lack of communication indicates that the change might not be all that important or is just another “program of the month”.
- We also wanted to celebrate wins — so we shared stories and testimonials from early adopters to help build faith and give credit in the new program.
- Finally, it was my job to stay optimistic. Nobody follows a pessimist. I often remind myself that it’s my responsibility to look out into the future while others might be more focused on the day to day, serving clients and taking care of staff. I’ve had to learn that it will take some partners longer to understand and accept the case for change — but if we keep following our process, I know they’ll come around.
While our change is still underway, people have adapted, and we’re seeing results. This will help us provide opportunities for our staff and better serve our clients. And that combination is what I call success. How about you? How do you initiate change at your organization?